Masthead

Television Sets

At the moment I only have two antique televisions, and no serious plans to acquire any more. I like television—I certainly watch enough of it—but they doesn't get under my skin the way old radio sets do. There are only a few that I really think are great and worth having and it's entirely down to styling. If I ever find those, I'll get them. But TV sets take up even more room than reel-to-reel tape recorders, and I'm rapidly running out of space.

1948 Philco 50-702T1949 Philco 50-702T

As I type this, I have two old televisions and they're both Philcos. It's not like I'm a Philco fan, because really I'm more partial to Zenith and other makes, but it's just worked out that way.

The old man's TV—I don't know where he got it from. The problem with having a 7" screen in a huge cabinet (compared to the screen size) is that it ends up being a novelty. I've seen it play a couple times: the image is weak and ghostly, like a reflection on a windowpane; and of course these days if I wanted to watch something, I'd have to hook it up to a VCR or something with an RF output that would inject the signal straight into the antenna, which is a bit of work for something I'd probably watch for 30 seconds, smile, nod, and then shut off again for another decade.

This is a 1949/1950 702T (or T702, depending on your source). The 701 has a plastic cabinet with a lot more angles and, IMO, a chintzier appearance; I prefer wood cabinets. The year's fairly easy because for awhile Philco did a very sensible thing and incorporated the model year into their model numbers.

According to a price list at earlytelevision.org, this sold for $189.50 in 1949.

According to the old man, this one has an electrostatic tube; no yoke. It also splits the video and audio and runs them through separate IFs. Due to tuning constraints, "do you want a good picture or good sound?" Because you can't have both.

Radiola Guy has a nice little write-up on it with more photos.

Current Status: noisy audio; needs a filter capacitor.

1958 Philco Predicta1958 Philco Predicta G4242 "Holiday"

Purchased because it was cheap, which is due to that big crack on the glass. I haven't determined whether the picture tube is done for or if it's just the safety glass outside that's broken. If I can get the set running without having to replace unobtanium components, I'll do it. But I don't have high hopes for it.

I'm surprised that I haven't been able to find out too much about them. There are a lot of images of them on the internet because this is the television equivalent of a Philco cathedral radio. (The word is heavily mis- and overused these days, but Predictas truly are icons.) While I've seen bits and pieces, like Phil's restoration of a pedestal model, I haven't found anything that offers a timeline with model dates, names, numbers, and features.

I did find this, however, from the fantastic American Radio History site, in the April 1961 issue of Television Digest:

Saga of Philco's Predicta: Philco's Predicta TV sets, which debuted in 1958 (Vol 14:23 p10) and were buried the following year, were cited April 5 by a Wall Street Journal article on fanfared products that have fizzled.

"If distinctive appearance guaranteed brisk sales, the Predictas seemed destined for success," noted the publication. . . .

"But the public apparently was unimpressed. Though an initial burst of dealer enthusiasm led Philco to double production at the start of 1959," the account continued, "orders began to dwindle by the middle of that year. They kept falling, and last year—long before such a basically revamped product line could normally be expected to expire—Philco stopped shipping Predicta models to dealers. The Predicta line, for which Philco had exceeded developed & retoolling budgets by 25% and on which profts had been negligible, was clearly a flop."

From the same article, they quote a Philco V.P. as blaming too high a price and too extreme a design. "People said the sets were nice to look at, but they wouldn't want to have them in their homes."

Subsequent issues of Television Digest mention that Philco found a market selling them to hotels for in-room TVs, where the swivel screen and the ability to build them into furniture was an asset.

The article just above this one mentions Philco having a "disappointing and difficult" 1960 and went into the red in Q1 of 1961. The glory days were definitely over.

The Old Man was interested in looking it over, and I know nothing about televisions other than how to watch them. I'm old enough to be familiar with the fine tune, horizontal- and vertical-hold knobs, and separate VHF and UHF dials. But I don't know a flyback transformer from a DC restorer from B-plus-Boost. I know enough to be very careful of high voltages.

I checked the filament on the picture tube, because if that's blown, we may as well stop right there; but I got continuity. I pulled the chassis and checked the tubes, then replaced a couple duds. The Old Man looked over the chassis, replaced the blown fusable resistor (made one out a 10W resistor and a 1A fuse), checked the thermistor and the filter caps and a few other items. We cabled everything back up and fired it up. It's transformerless, so the tubes are all in series and if one goes, nothing works; the set lit up. Got high voltage off the rectifier. No picture.

Out of time, so it's in storage until we can try Round 2. In the meantime, I picked up a B&K 465 CrT tester and hope it may prove whether the jug is truly good or not. If it's good, we'll keep going. If not, then it's just going to be an objet d'art taking up a lot of room on an end table in the guest bedroom..

Current Status: not running.