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smallclk.gif (3682 bytes)wpeBC.jpg (343936 bytes)Interesting old adverts for electric stuff.

I recently picked up a box of old copies of  the UK electronics trade publication 'Electronic Engineering' from the early to mid-1950s. These contain lots of historically interesting adverts for components etc. which were the latest technology of the time, giving a different view to the sort of stuff in the more commonly found vintage hobbyist publications.

Computing  Valves & glass stuff  Test Equipment  Miscellaneous


Germanium semiconductors were just starting to be available around the early fifties, to those that could afford them!

get2.jpg (43618 bytes)stctrans.jpg (184763 bytes)<Aug 1954 - One of the first generally-available transistors. By comparing with salaries in the job adverts in this magazine, I estimate that the the price is roughly equivalent to .80 today (US$120).

>Oct 1954. The body in the 'Actual Size' picture is about 25mm high.

From another advert by Mullard (March 1954) : Three types of junction transistor, the Mullard OC10, OC11 and OC12 are now available for circuit experiments. In the past, the lack of supplies has prevented circuit designers in this country from gaining direct experience of junction transistors in their own laboratories. Now, however, the availability of the first junction types invites practical investigation into their many possible applications.  As junction transistors provide no current gain when connected with grounded base, they are more usually employed in grounded emitter circuits, where they function well as A.F. amplifiers. In both amplifier and oscillator circuits these transistors will operate with supply voltages as low as 1.5 V and with current consumptions of the same remarkably low order. The OC11 is a general-purpose amplifier, while the OC12 is intended for operation in an output stage, although it can, of course, be used otherwise. A low-noise version of the OC11 is provided by the OC10, a special transistor for early stages in high-gain amplifiers. The OC10, OC11 and OC12 are readily available for experimental purposes at a price comparable with that of mains subminiature valves. Presumably 'for experimental use' meant they hadn't yet acheived the consistent yield required for production applications! More early transistor stuff here

bthdiode.gif (48210 bytes)fiveger.jpg (58034 bytes)<Dec 1951

>Aug 1954

selen.jpg (44998 bytes)copox.jpg (31276 bytes)<Dec 1952

Text reads : G.E.C Selenium Rectifiers are ideal for all applications where a D.C. power supply is to be provided from an A.C. source. They are designed and rated for long life and reliable operation, ahve high operating efficiency and are economical in first cost. A comprehensive range is available for output currents from a few milli-amps to thousands of amps.

>May 1954

Before the advent of germanium and silicon rectifiers, the only alternatives to valve rectifiers were selenium units, usually for medium powers (a few hundred mA), and copper oxide devices for low-power signal uses like AC-DC conversion for voltmeters.


ferrant.jpg (100490 bytes)Sep 1951,

One of the first commercially available computers.

384 multiplications per second - about a million times slower than today's computers.

75Kbyte Drum storage, 1.25Kbytes of RAM! I wonder what they meant by 'will ultimately hold...' in Version 1.1 perhaps


Valves & glass stuff

    adcint.gif (38162 bytes)cint2.jpg (121938 bytes)

<Dec 1951

>Sep 1951

See the Photocells page for photos of these devices

stcdek.jpg (51803 bytes)ericdek.jpg (38301 bytes)<Aug 1953

Centre device reads "G10/241E "Nomotron" Unidirectional Cold-Cathode Gas Tube Decade Counter" Picture here

>Oct 1954.

For lots more info on these devices, see the dekatron page

There are several editorial articles in the E.E. magazines featuring dekatrons in applications including timers, computing and oscilloscope time-marker generators - it seems these were the TTL logic of their day!

thermrelay.gif (76076 bytes)ediswanad.gif (25930 bytes)April 1953

>Dec 1951

moleb.jpg (52687 bytes)zirc.jpg (27349 bytes)<August 1954

This advert from a specialist metalworker shows an unusual form of mercury-arc rectifier.

>Jan 1952

The appearance of adverts for such specialised materials in a general electronics publication  would seem to suggest that there were a large number of companies involved in valve production.

Test Equipment

advsg.gif (69761 bytes)airmec.jpg (73176 bytes)<April 1953

>Jan 1955

sangad.jpg (67840 bytes)esdgun.gif (21854 bytes)<Dec 1951

>Oct 1954

Although static sensitivity problems with semiconductors were a problem for the future, it was already an issue in some industries, where static presented a fire hazard.


adrrc.gif (35005 bytes)plasticguy.jpg (43849 bytes)<Dec 1951

>Oct 1954

westcell.jpg (41891 bytes)monoscope.jpg (52856 bytes)<Jan 1955

Before the advent of precision semiconductor voltage references, Weston Cells were the standard method of producing a precise voltage, for calibration of voltmeters etc.

>Dec 1952

A caption generator tube - basically a camera with a single fixed image, often used for video test-card generation. See also this article on a CRT used as an analogue-to-digital converter.

smallclk.gif (3682 bytes)wpeBC.jpg (343936 bytes)

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