The Vacuum Tubeby Ludwell A. Sibley
102 McDonough Rd.
Gold Hill, OR 97525-9626
Please include SASE for reply. Copyright © 2005 Ludwell A. Sibley
The U. S. tube industry, more than any other, featured a panoramic diversity of brand names. These represented the manufacturers, large and small; the set makers; and a host of private brands used by regional distributors. The hugely successful 201A appeared under 600+ names in the '20s-'30s. RCA is known to have supplied tubes under 250+ private brands in the '30s and later.
As with any consumer product, the marketers strove for brand identities that conveyed an image of value and effectiveness. Here are some clusters of names with particular associations.
"Dynes": Aerodyne, Anodyne, Electrodyne, Kinodyne, Magnadyne.
"Tones": Bell-Tone, Bestone, Brilliantone, Claritone, Clearatone, Goldentone, Goldtone, Good Tone, Grand Tone, Keentone, Kleartone, Kleen Tone, Kleer Tone, Live-Tone, Mastertone, Melotone, Nutone, Nutron, Operatone, Pep Tone, Perfectone, Powertone, Pur-A-Tone, Qualitone, Radiotone, Real-Tone, RY-TONE, Silvertone, Supertone, Tripletone, Unitone, Wavetone, Weltone, Wonder-Tone.
"Trons": Actron, Airtron, Alltron, Amertron, Amplitron, AudioTron, Aratron, Archatron, Arco-tron, Arctron, Atron, Bostron, Claritron, Cleartron, Delatone, Detectron, Detron, Dextron, Diatron, Dis-X-Tron, Distatron, Duotron, Duratron, Dynetron, Echotron, Econotron, Elektron, Elitetron, Empire-Tron, Esetron, Etron, Eurekatron, Exceltron, Fastron, Findtron, Fultone, Greentron, Heliotron, Hi-Constron, Hubtron, Hytron, Icatron, Imperialtron, Lectron, Magictron, Magnatron, Mellotron, Monotron, Musiktron, Neotron, Neptron, Novatron, Oscillotron, Peertron, Perfectron, Philotron, Phonotron, Pilotron, Playtron, Purotron, Quadrotron, Q. V. Tron, RA-DEX-TRON, Radiotron, Raytron, Rextron, Royaltron, Solartron, Sonatron, Supertron, Syntron, Tectron, Teletron, Teltron, Thermotron, Trio Tron, Triple Tron, Urekatron, Vactron, Voltron, Valutron, Vultron, Westron.
Tough Guys: Champion, Commander, Conqueror, Courier, Crusader, Defender, Dictator, Kadette, Leader, Legion, Pace Setter, Pioneer, Trail Blazer, Victor, Viking.
Noble Titles: Admiral, Air King, Aristocrat, Emperor, Imperial, Knight, Master, Premier, Regal, Regent, Rextron, Royal, Sovereign.
Antiquities: Ajax, Apollo, Atlas, Diana, Hercules, Jove, Neptune, Marathon, Mercury, Neptune, Odeon, Plato, Samson, Sparton, Titan, Titania, Trojan, Troy, Venus, Vesta.
Natural Features: Arcturus, Bright Star, Comet, Crescent, Eclipse, Golden Comet, Meteor (forgetting how fast meteors burn out!), Rainbow, Skyline, Star, Sun, Sunlight.
Geographic Concepts: Atlantis, Bay State, Blazing Trail, Boston, Cambridge, Coast to Coast, Continental, Denmark, Dixie, Everest World Top, Gibraltar, Globe, National, Panama, Paramount, Peak, Western, Zenith.
Weapons: Armor, Arrow, Golden Shield, Shieldplate.
Price Symbols: Buck, Dollar, Econtron, True Value.
Explorers and Leaders: Boone, Coronado, Franklin, Jackson, Lafayette, La Salle, Lafayette, Lee, Lincoln, Lord Baltimore, The Leader, Travis
Captains of Industry: Atwater Kent, Crosley, Cunningham, Daven, Grunow, Kellogg, Kilbourne & Clark, Moorhead, Mullard, Muntz, Musselman, Myers, Perryman, Philips, Rogers (Can.), Sarkes Tarzian, Schickerling, Stromberg-Carlson, Tobe, Westinghouse, Wurlitzer, Zetka
Men of Science: De Forest, Donle, Kelvin, Marconi, McCullough, Weston
High Performers: Action, Advance, Airmaster, Aladdin, All Star, Apex, Bull Dog, Champion, Duro, Duratron, Dynamic, Endurance, Eveready, Iroquois, Majestic, Maximus, Navigator, Pace Setter, Pioneer, Ranger, Sturdy, Vim, Wearwell
Radio Stations: KMA, WDRC, WLS
Things That Fly: Aerodyne, Airhawk, Blue Bird, Bumblebee, Eagle, Oriole, Sea Gull, Songbird.
Value Symbols: Ace, Acme, Bond, Buck, Certified, Diamond, Dollar, Double Life, Econotube, Eldorado, Gem, Gold Bond, Gold Medal, Guaranteed, Jewel, Par, Silver, Surety, True Value
Musical Concepts: Concert, Concert Master, Harmonique, Harp, Lyric, Minuet, Mozart, Vox
Store Chains: Field's, Macy's, Meier & Frank, Pep Boys, Wards, Wardwear
Chemicals and Elements: Argon, Neon, Sodion, Thoria
Vegetables: Bluebell, Blue Grass, Clover, Shamrock
A freaky brand was "Cecilian," from the Esetroc Mfg. Co. in Newark. "Esetroc" looks like "Cortese" spelled backward, so the brand name may have been a play on national origin! The British and European makers were much more staid in their choices of names. The Japanese tube companies played the American game to some extent, with brands like Applotron, Cymotron, Don, Eastron, Kingtron, K. O. Tron, Orion, Rex, Robin, Suntron, Sterling, and Victron.
NEW BOOK AVAILABLE
Radio Waves, the journal of the Historical Radio Society of Australia, carried "The Valve Box," a series of 16 articles by Fin Stewart in the late '90s. Stewart is known to AWA readers by his article on Australian tube companies in Vol. 6 of the Review, and by two chapters of the "Valve Box" series printed in the OTB in 1999-2000.
One of the characteristics of the radio and tube markets in much of the world was that British, European, and U. S. manufacturers competed in it. So authors like John Stokes in New Zealand and Stewart in Australia had to be "fluent" in tubes from all sources. The result is a rich world view. Stewart's series covered tube-development history, with products from Germany, Holland, Britain, France, the rest of Europe, and the U. S. He devoted specialized coverage to Arcturus and Western Electric. The set constitutes an insightful and entertaining "read."
Now he has assembled the full series into a book. It's 97 pages in A4 (8 1/2" x 11") format, xerocopied and comb-bound. It's available for US $25, air postage included, from Fin Stewart, "Cockerdale," 380 Bulga Rd., Wingham, NSW 2429, Australia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and PayPal payment can be sent to email@example.com.
A while back this column featured a story on the tube collection of Bob Deuel, K2GLO. It would be valuable to write up other such collections, as each tube enthusiast has his own ideas of what to acquire and how to display it. The very nature of tube display is evolving, with the arrival of Web-based photo galleries. Two prominent examples are Jeremy Harmer's "Virtual Valve Museum" (http://www.tubecollector.org) and Norm Wilson's "Transmitting Tube Museum" (http://n6jv.us). These provide an educational outreach that is lacking in conventional private displays, allowing anyone to check up on odd or rate tubes. Collectors who would like to share the news of their collections, in physical or Web-page form, via this column are welcome to contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 855-5207.
The AWA Journal, On-line Edition, Copyright © 2005 Antique Wireless Association, Inc.