Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Wonders of Vacuum Tubes

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Although they've been replaced by transistors and integrated circuits, there was a time when vacuum tubes were a fundamental component of modern electronics. Now exotic, they were common during the first electronic revolution.

Today you can buy hard drives, graphics cards and the like in stores, in the old-timey days vacuum tube testers were readily found in hardware and grocery stores. You could test vacuum tubes and buy their replacements easily, and it was a skill any do-it-yourselfer was expected to have.

Where there are products there is advertising. The problem is they were, like an oil filter in an engine, just a part of a machine, and not a very sexy or graphically interesting part at all. So how to sway consumer dollars?

The vacuum tube ads were pretty straight forward -- either a picture of a tube with copy extolling their virtues, or a their place in the wonders of radio emphasized. Here, and after a the fold, are some old ads that tried to sell what was then a mundane part of electronics.

Source: Duke University Libraries Digital Repository.

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