Little Bits of History

Life in a Vacuum

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 15, 2012


September 15, 1947: The 12AX7 is released. Also called ECC83, it was a miniature dual triode vacuum tube with a high voltage gain. In the foregoing definition, the “triode” part means there were three active electrodes and the “vacuum tube” part is a tube or device that controls or regulates the flow of an electric current through a vacuum. RCA developed the tube in Harrison, New Jersey in 1947 under the development number A-4522. The device was to be a replacement for the a family of dual-triode amplifier tubes then used in audio applications. The small tube measured 2.2 inches in height and only 0.8 inches in diameter. It is still in use today in low level audio amplification applications.

RCA Corporation was founded as Radio Corporation of America in 1919. In 1914, Europe erupted into war and soon the entire world seemed to be involved. During World War I, instant communication was essential and radio was useful in this regard. The Germans lost their submarine communications cable which was the only telegraph at the time. In order to communicate between allies in the Americas, long distance radio was needed. In the US, the government took charge of patents owned by major companies in order to work on radio communication development. On April 8, 1919, navy personnel met with General Electric Corporation to ask them to stop selling radio components overseas. The navy and GE created an American-owned company and created a radio monopoly. That company was Radio Corporation of America.

After the war, radio towers confiscated during the fighting were returned to the original owners. GE continued to use RCA as its retail arm for selling radios and later Westinghouse also used RCA for marketing their radios. In 1929, RCA purchased Victor Talking Machine Co. and entered the phonograph market. They sold their first electronic turntable in 1930, which was also the year they broke away from GE. RCA demonstrated an all-electronic television system at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and developed the US’s first television test pattern.

By 1941, RCA Laboratories worked on many different audio and visual projects. In their Princeton, New Jersey lab they created color TV, the electron microscope, optoelectronic emitting devices, LCD displays, videocassette recorders and many more interesting items. They went out of business in 1986 and the RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA. The trademark is used by Sony Music Entertainment and Technicolor, which licenses the name to other companies such as Audiovox and TCL Corporation.

Radio is a bag of mediocrity where little men with carbon minds wallow in sluice of their own making. – Fred Allen

It’s not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on. – Marilyn Monroe

Technology gives us the facilities that lessen the barriers of time and distance – the telegraph and cable, the telephone, radio, and the rest. – Emily Greene Balch

Radio allowed people to act with their hearts and minds. – Dick York

Also on this day:

I Feel the Need for Speed – In 1881, Ettore Bugatti is born.
What is That? – In 1916, tanks were first used in battle.
Railroads – In 1830, inter-city passenger rail travel began.

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