Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

 

Postwar American Television

Electromatic 101

(1949 - 10 inch)

Electromatic made a 10 and 12 inch version of this set. The cabinet looks very similar to the 1945 Farnsworth prototype, and even more like the 1947 production model GV260. Another Electromatic has an almost identical cabinet, but with a Farnsworth decal on it. Electromatic also made a 12 inch version, the model 120.

It is likely that Electromatic (a New York company) bought surplus cabinets from Farnsworth's cabinet supplier and put their chassis in. But how can the Farnworth label on the other surviving Electromatic be explained? One possibility is that Farnsworth sold the set. But by then they had moved on to a completely different style. Why would they sell an outdated design, which would compete with their 1949 product line? Another possibility is that Electromatic left the Farnsworth decal on the cabinet (without Farnsworth's permission) to increase sales, since Farnsworth was a well known brand.

Courtesy of Wayne Abare

Here is a note from Bob Savage, owner of WYSL News 1040, Avon (near Rochester) NY:

I think I may have an answer to the mystery of your "new acquisition", the Electromatic 101.  Somewhere - I'll try to put my hands on it - I have a copy of a 1947 or 1948 Radio-Craft magazine, a Gernsback pub that later became Radio-Television News.  There was a display ad for one of the big radio surplus houses in the postwar era - I'm pretty sure it was McGee Radio in Kansas City - clearly displaying one of these distinctive cabinets, with text (paraphrasing here) like this:

"GIANT VALUE ON PARTIALLY ASSEMBLED TELEVISION CHASSIS WITH CABINET!  Includes chassis, high-voltage components with transformers, knobs, Masonite back panel, and luxurious hand-rubbed veneer cabinet with plastic mesh grille on top for ventilation.  Manufacturer ceased production and we scooped up these partially-assembled TV sets right off their line!  Use as foundation for your own top-quality television receiver, or parts and beautiful cabinet alone worth several times our low price."

I remember that the "Farnsworth" name on the front panel was blacked out.  As I recall the surplus cabinets were being sold for about $15 or so.

Clearly, for whatever reason, Farnsworth decided to abruptly stop producing these sets and sold off all existing inventory, apparently some to retailers, and perhaps some to "Electromatic."  The low model number of the "Electromatic 101" strongly suggests it was the first manufacturing effort of a fledgling company.  Given the huge demand for TVs during this era, it isn't far-fetched to imagine some entrepreneur nabbing a quantity of the unfinished Farnsworth sets - perhaps, some even with the original name decal still on the front - and then completing and selling them as their own. 

The only remaining mystery from my perspective is why Farnsworth quit making the set so abruptly - it would have been more in the nature of common sense to finish the current production and sell them, rather than dumping partial sets for pennies.  As I recall Capehart-Farnsworth continued for many years producing consumer electronic items past the 1950s, so the company didn't go out of business.

 

Radio-Electronics, March 1949

Courtesy of Don Sellers

 

Radio & Television News, January 1950