TV tube testing....memories


Veteran Member
Reaction score
a figment of your imagination
Who remembers TVs and radios with tubes?

I have fond memories of taking the back off of a TV or radio and taking all the tubes out and putting them into a box and driving to the drug store.

I don't remember my father teaching me how, I was that young. I remember in elementary school taking that box on my bicycle down to the store, climbing on a chair and matching the tubes up to the analyzer sockets, pushing the test button and seeing the tube glow, the meter move to green (good) or red (replace)...

I'd then buy the tubes that needed replacing never cost us more than a few dollars...and peddling back home to fix the radio or TV...put the tubes back in, the cover back on...plug it in (the plug had a safety feature and was removed with the cover) and it always worked!

Does anyone else have those memories?

Or other memories of a time gone by (like back when we used to have to parallel park our cars)?

I have these memories and older ones. The time you are recalling was before solid state electronics took over in the 70's. The sixties were the time that we took tubes to drug stores and did the test and replace thingy.
Before that you called the TV repair guy to come to your home and do it. Radios... you had to take them to a repair shop, unless you listened to your crystal set with headphones like I did (no tubes, no plug-in electricity... no repairs necessary unless you sat on it). I recollect I built mine to gain credit towards my bear or lion rank in cub scouts in the 50's.

When I was in first grade, BEFORE TV !, I remember rushing home from school to listen to my afternoon adventure serials on a marvelous console PHILCO which had a turntable on a shelf below and a circular dial tuner on top with a green eye in the middle that shrunk and showed you when you were tuned to the exact frequency you wanted. It also had shortwave bands that were just magical. You could hear people talking from foreign lands at night if the conditions were agreeable, and you could always hear lots of Morse Code broadcasts.

Then the Japanese began building the first transistorized portable radios and public entertainment changed forever. Everything's mobile now and if something breaks we usually disdain repair, throw it away, and just buy a new one, huh ?

I think it's strange that the world rushed to completely replace all valve driven electronics with these new-fangled transistors.

Transistors have their uses - so do valves. I just bought myself a new guitar amplifier that uses old style valves instead of transistors. The sound is incredible!

It makes me think when I play with it. Progress is all well and good, but lets not forget what we already have and how good it is. There's no need to destroy the present in order to reach the future.
I remember my first transistor radio, complete with an earphone. I was stylin' (on my non-inline rollerskates). :)

My take on all this is that the twentieth century was all about converting the world from an analog reality to a digital reality. The switch from tubes to transistors to microchips is the underlying infrastructure through which this is being accomplished. And I agree, analog amps make a much richer and satisfying set of sounds for our analog senses. Too much perfection, which is now digitally attainable, sounds good but is somehow not as satisfying to our senses.


Yup...stylin !

ah crystal radios...and the antenna wire out my bedroom window and across the yard... the full range of bass that came out of those machines...the big bass boxes don't hold a candle to them..

when a skate board was you pulling those skates apart that tightened onto your patent leather shoes (we wore sneakers only for play, but put our school shoes back on to skate)...but we'd pull them apart and nail them to the bottom of a board...couldn't turn if you wanted to, worked up a sweat just getting it to roll at all...

being let out in the morning...coming in at dinner time...out again after dinner only to come back when the lights came on... at lunch we'd all bombard someone's house...and whoever it was had to fix lunch for 6-15.