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Postwar American Television

Sony Chromatron Sets

The following is from Marshal Wozniak, who recently found a Sony Chromatron set. You can see more details at his website.

A 17 inch prototype Chromatron was announced in Japan in September, 1964. It was never sold to the public.

In May, 1965, Sony introduced a 19 inch model 19C 70. I think many have assumed, or at least I did, that the 19 inch Chromatron used a one beam like the original Lawrence tube. Turns out not to be the case - it used a hybrid Chromatron, using three inline beams within a single gun. Between 13,000 and 18,000 were sold, only in Japan, before Sonly pulled the plug in Fall of 1966 to develop the Trinitron.

Courtesy of Sony Archive History Museum

In July of 1968 (according to the 1968 Sony Annual Report) the first Sony color television was imported to the United States. The model KV 7010U was a Chromatron (Actually a hybrid Chromatron). It used a 7 inch CRT with a gun like the one in the 19 inch model, with a three beam inline one gun with a color selection grid offering "post aceleration" and "post deflection focusing" No shadow mask and no convergence. It has two HV rectifer tubes and three HV connections to the CRT. It also has electronic purity control. It was licensed under patents of Paramount Pictures Corporation. I believe this model is the only "consumer" Chromatron TV receiver ever sold in the United States, but sold in very limited numbers, probably less than 1000.

In January of 2013 I found a working KV 7010U Chromatron set, which I have had restored by Andy Cuffe.

Within a very short time (probably in October) the KV 7010UA was introduced, which was similar, but used a Trinitron CRT. I visited the Sony showroom on Fifth Avenue in New York in October, 1968 and the new model KV 7010UA was shown with the Trinitron CRT.

My Chromatron has some differences: two high voltage rectifier tubes instead of one, three high voltage connections to the CRT instead of two, (it needs to apply 500 to 1000V at the color selection grid per Andy Cuffe who worked on it) it has an electronic purity control instead of the usual manual magnets, the CRT bell is of different shape and the fine wire selection grid (no shadow mask or Arpeture Grill) has been visually confirmed by Andy Cuffe who repaired the set, plus other changes easily seen in the photo comparisons. Most of the circuit boards look the same.

I'm trying to find the production numbers of the KV 7010U, by comparing serial numbers with other collectors. An example, my set says "Micro Color" with no three color logo on the cabinet and has  a Chromatron CRT. I know a collector who has the same cabinet style, but it has a Trinitron in it and his serial number is a thousand higher. The model I saw in October, 1968 said "Trinitron Color" with a rectangular three color logo on the cabinet (I purchased this model back then) and later the logo was changed to the ellipse shape. I speculate possibly only a thousand or so Chromatron's were manufactured and who knows how many survived over the last 45 years.

Why did Sony introduce a Chromatron in the U.S? This is speculation, but I think Sony wanted to honor a promise to it's shareholders, they were under pressure to release their first color television to the U.S. and the Trinitron CRT was not quite ready so they had a small number of Chromatron's on the production line and rushed them to market, then quietly switched to the Trinitron when it was ready. (I know that Sony completed work on the 7 inch prototype Chromatron in December, 1966.)