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Postwar American Television

That indestructible RCA 630TS

During 1947-1949 Chicago was my home. There I was fortunate to be able to attend  college on the G.I. Bill of Rights, having been in the Army during the war. I became a television engineer in the process. Dr. Lee DeForest was a director of my school and signed my sheepskin. I have previously reported on my brief brush with him and his mechanical color television project.

New York is where my folks lived. There I returned during Christmas vacations (school was in session through the summer) and also returned there after graduation. In December of 1946 I was once again with my folks for about a week. I made good use of the short time I was there and   assembled a TV set for them from a kit. I seem to recall that it was a Philmore kit. That set was one of the ubiquitous RCA 630 TS receivers of which millions were made, both in fully assembled and in kit form. My kit contained all the components including the chassis, the CRT and the cabinet and all of hardware required to hold it all together.

 

Our first Television Set

Since I was far from a novice at working on TV sets by then, assembling the 630 TS was easy for me. My folks lived at 181st Street in Washington Heights, adjacent the foot of the George Washington bridge, so reception was no problem. A simple dipole antenna on the roof was enough to pull in ghost-free signals from CBS, NBC, ABC, Allen B. DuMont  - all located downtown Manhattan - and from a New Jersey station located on the opposite shore of the Hudson.

That set was our first and only family TV set for many years. I would watch many a Yankee baseball game on that set sitting alongside my father. He was a confirmed Yankee fan.

In the Winter of 1947-1948 I am going home once again by train - on the New York Central Pacemaker - to stay with my folks over the holydays. The first thing I heard about was that the RCA TV set was out of commission. My folks reported that it had "gone on fire" and filled the room with black smoke. I didn't even unpack my ex-Army duffel bag before I took the chassis out of the cabinet.

Sure enough, all of the varnished cambric insulation on the solid hook-up wires had caught on fire. Only a charred, black flaky  mess was left of that insulation. I cleaned it all off with an old tooth brush and vacuumed up the flakes. Then I scrounged around until I found a roll of white surgical tape. I used short pieces of that tape to build "bridges" in order to space the wires away from each other so that they wouldn't  touch and "short out".

When I flipped the power switch back ON, the darn set worked like new. The doggone thing worked for years after that minor operation. Good old rugged  RCA 630 TS!

Courtesy of Ralph H. Baer www.ralphbaer.com