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Friday, April 15, 2022

TV Homebrew 84 years ago -- Tracking Down W9YEI's 1939 Television Receiver -- The CRT He Probably Used -- Please Help Find More Info

A recent Hack-A-Day article about early television receivers got me thinking about the receiver built by young Johnny Anderson in 1939 and described by Jean Shepherd on WOR in 1973.  In the 1973 program (skip to the 18 minute mark),  Shep gives a good description of the device.  It sounded a lot like the receiver from Peter Scozzari's October 1939 "Radio and Television" article:  Shep described a big chassis with angled pieces of aluminum one of which had a tube socket brazed onto it.  Anderson may have bult the power supply on the same chassis as the receiver.  Shep said that a 1 inch CRT was in this socket.  Tellingly, he described the picture as being green in color.  

Peter Scozzari wrote that oscilloscope tubes produced a "greenish hue."  One month after his first article, in November 1939 Peter Scozzari published another article in which he changed the CRT to to a tube that would produce a black and white (not green) pictures.  See below for the part of the article that describes the shift to the larger black and white tube.  This supports the idea that Anderson was using a tube built for oscilloscopes.  The picture above shows what images from the three sizes of RCA oscilloscope tubes would have looked like (absent the green hue -- this was a black and white magazine).  I find them kind of eerie, considering that the person in the picture was probably born more than 100 years ago.  And in that bottom picture we see an image (absent the green hue) very similar to what Shep saw in 1939, and described so vividly in 1973. 

Scozzari's receiver started out with a 2 inch tube, then a month later, he went with a 3 inch tube.  But Johnny Anderson may have only had the 1 inch tube described by Shep.  The Sherman QST article provided circuit details for all three sizes of RCA tubes. This information would have been very useful to Johnny Anderson. So my guess is that when Shep saw TV for the first time in 1939 in Johnny Anderson's basement workshop, he was looking into an RCA 1 inch 913 CRT. 

Here's a great EDN article on the 1 inch CRTs available in the 1930s: 

Here's a fellow who recently built a TV receiver using an RCA 902: 
Here's the YouTube video of his 902-based receiver in action: 

Previous SolderSmoke blog posts on this topic: 

This is all pretty amazing:  We are gathering details on a television receiver built some 84 years ago by a teenager in a basement in Hammond, Indiana.  

Does anyone out there have more information on what Anderson built?  Can anyone dig up more information on this? Any more info on Peter Scozzari?  Anyone have info on Jack Neitz of California (he recently built the Scozzari TV receiver)? 

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