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Welcome to my Vintage Micro Television Timeline website! Here you will find many of the classic micro televisions starting with a 1959 model and continuing through the year 2000. You will find interesting, rare televisions, photos and information on PAGE FIVE TRINITRON, such as early Trinitron sets, General Electric Porta Colors and much more.
See pages two through five in the drop down menu tab above and scroll to your right, for continuation of collection, new arrivals, and the last page, VIEWERS TELEVISIONS. On this page you can see viewers sets and tutorials.
Use the INDEX link to find a television you are looking for, type a keyword in the search box or use the tab navigation at top of page.
There are currently 112 televisions in the Vintage Micro Television Timeline Collection. If not found, check back later, as I am adding new acquisitions from time to time. Each page organizes the televisions starting with the earliest to latest years or just scroll down each page.
Dick Tracy two way wrist radio/TV, Captain Kirk’s communicator, pocket television, hang on the wall flat screen television and 3D television. These things were fantasy and science fiction when I grew up in the late 1940s and 1950s. Now they are all a reality. On July 1, 2010 Direct TV began broadcasting full time, 24/7 3D television.
April 17, 2010, I have collected pocket televisions, transistor radios and extraordinary gadgets since 1956. It all started with my fascination with crystal radios in the mid-fifties. (This photo shows the exact first radio I played with, a Philmore, then moved on to others) I lack the technical skills to repair the televisions I collect, having pursued a different career, but I have always enjoyed the cutting edge technology devices that were introduced over the past decades, such as Sony’s tiny micro IC radios, the Hamilton Pulsar LED digital watch, pocket TV, the first home VTR’s, (I hooked up a professional Sony video tape recorder to my home system before the home Betamax and VHS machines were invented) first projection television, LaserDisk, CD, DVD, Flat TV, HD, BluRay, holograms, holographic television and so much more too numerous to list.
I have been fortunate to acquire these devices in my lifetime. Now, I finally have the time to work on this website and share my collection with you.The digital switch in the United States flipped on June 12, 2009, but that will not take away the desirability of these amazing micro televisions in the age of miniaturization for consumer electronics. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) allows low power UHF stations to continue broadcasting the analogue signal with no termination date set as of this writing. A collector can make good use of these sets with a digital converter box. Better yet, one can install a low power ”home transmitter” with little expense which is simple to hook up. Just connect a modulator to your favorite video source and set the desired channel, any channel, then extend the pocket TV antenna, and tune to the channel you set on your modulator. You are in business. You can now walk around your house, take your pocket TV to the patio/yard and watch video and sound from your favorite video source connected to the modulator/transmitter.
This site is dedicated to an accurate timeline of vintage micro televisions. Having been there, watching and purchasing these sets as they became available, gives me a perspective that I would like to share with other collectors. I purchased many of the sets you see on these pages new, as they were introduced, however some exceptions are noted. In the months ahead, I will be actively working to supplement my collection with historically significant television models. Some images can be downloaded in full 1600 x 1200 wallpaper format. You can just click on them as on this one and they are noted herein.
I can’t show all the sets in my collection as they are too numerous and many are just variations, or duplicates. I show a historical timeline with the most significant micro televisions introduced to the U.S. market. I understand that models vary from country to country. Also, there are many models introduced elsewhere in the world that are not shown. Have I missed a model that should have shown? I’d like to hear from you, and if you see something in error, please let me know so I can correct it.
The screen shots shown were scaled to be actual size on my current 1600×1200 resolution monitor. If viewed on a larger monitor such as 1920×1200, the screen shots will be smaller than actual size. Conversely, if viewed on a smaller monitor, such as a 1024×768, which is still the most used size in the world, the images will be larger. Except as noted, all screen shots were created by imputing a ATSC digital over-the-air signal converted to NTSC analogue, which is fed by an outboard digital converter directly to the television antenna input. All screen shots were captured on the fly without the aid of freeze frame or stabilization from a tripod. The camera I use is a Sony DSC-M1 5 megapixel, settings: Macro, Auto.
I present my Micro Television Collection, 1959 to 2000.
These wonderful devices of the 80s, 90s, and beyond, would not be possible without the invention of the liquid crystal display. Liquid crystal effect was discovered in 1888.
Based on a discovery by Richard Williams in 1962 and six years of research and development by a team led by George Heilmeier, the first LCDs were presented to the world in May 1968 at an RCA press conference.
The project was shrouded in secrecy and in the photo below, George Heilmeier outside the Princeton Labs in New Jersey in 1966, is showing an LCD television. You can see the test pattern on the screen. (most likely, a static image) Kept under wraps for another two years, this secret accomplishment helps explain why RCA representatives at liquid-crystal conferences expressed a sometimes-unseemly pride prior to May 1968.
Heilmeier, thought a full color, hang-on-the-wall flat panel television was just around the corner. In fact, it would take 25 years until the Sharp Corporation of Japan, introduced a 14-inch, color, TFT, active matrix, back lit television receiver announced on June 24, 1988. (See PAGE FIVE) It was 27 mm thick. The television industry took notice, realizing the dream of a flat panel, hang-on-the-wall, color television was soon a reality and the major corporations launched extensive R&D.
LCD was then taken out of its niche market for small displays, calculators, watches and pocket TV’s. By 2000, the LCD industry had caught up to the giant cathode ray tube (CRT) production and subsequently surpassed it.
RCA received the first patent in 1967 for Liquid Crystal Display. However, failing to exploit their research and development (perhaps due to their long success with CRT televisions), they did not want to undermine their products with new competing technology.
Quoting Kawamoto: The History Of Liquid Crystal Displays, “Heilmeier quickly received negative responses from the naysayers. Liquid crystals were not “silicon.” They were “dirty” by semicon- ductor standards. They were liquids. They were too easily duplicated. They were said to be too difficult to make.”
Top management eventually rejected the idea of LCDs because they represented a threat to their existing CRT business. According to Heilmeier: “The people who were asked to commercialize (the technology) saw it as a distraction to their main electronic focus.”
This would prove to be a mistake. Research continued in the UK, Europe and Japanese companies. Cannon, Casio, Hitachi, Seiko, Sharp, Sony, and others, all continued research on LCD.
The definitive desertation on why RCA failed with LCD is presented here in this PDF by Benjamin H. Gross and courtesy of Benjamin H. Gross. If I could sum up the 335 page presentation in one word, it would be “shortsightedness”.
As you will see in these pages, introduction of the world’s first liquid crystal televisions began in 1982. George Heilmeier discovered four new electro-optic effects in liquid crystals in the 1960s and pioneered the first liquid crystal displays. Heilmeier was credited as the inventor of LCD by the IEEE. In November 2005, Heilmeier was honored for his LCD innovations with the Kyoto Prize, Japan’s version of the Nobel Prize and in 2009, was inducted into the Inventor Hall Of Fame.
Update March 2, 2014: The National Academy of Engineering awarded the 2012 Charles Stark Draper Prize to George Heilmeier and three others “for the engineering development of the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) that is utilized in billions of consumer and professional devices.”
Another view from 1966, the world’s first prototype LCD television or more accurately a display device by RCA. Clearly with RCA’s dream of a flat television that could be hung on the wall and a display of a static television test pattern, this was an early prototype LCD television.
ONE YEAR LATER, 1969
First Commercial Products
RCA’s liquid crystal operation moves to Raritan, N.J. in 1969, this operation offered sufficient space for RCA’s first LCD assembly line. Meanwhile, RCA executives in New York discounted the technology’s commercial potential. And so, rather than directly financing the LCD’s development, they told the Raritan operation to pursue external funding. The team eventually lined up three contracts. The first was with a public relations firm called Ashley-Butler, which offered RCA US $100 000 to construct an animated display to advertise soft drinks, aspirin, (see photo of this display below) and other products. Veeder Root Co., a producer of gauges and mechanical counters, matched that sum in exchange for a liquid crystal readout for gasoline pumps. And Jervis Corp. supplied $50 000 for an automobile rearview mirror that used dynamic scattering to reduce headlight glare.
The Raritan engineers delivered all three products on time. Still, RCA executives continued to deny the group funding, which worried team members as did the company’s unwillingness to endorse what Klein and Heilmeier (Klein, was an associate engineer at the company’s semiconductor division in nearby Somerville,) felt was an obvious LCD product: the electronic wristwatch. Reference: Benjamin Gross, IEEE Spectrum.
Editor’s note: The Magazine Cover, Mechanix Illustrated May 1963, showing the RCA prototype pocket TV, on Page Five may have been based on the research by Heilmeier’s team. It was never produced.
FOUR YEARS LATER, 1972
When RCA suspended development of LCD in 1970, Heilmeier’s team left RCA and formed a spin off company, Optel in Princeton New Jersey which developed and marketed the world’s first commercial LCD wrist watch. It was the BWC Swiss/Optel DSM (dynamic scattering mode) model in 1972.
In the same year, North American Rockwell Corp. subsidiary company, Lloyd’s Electronics, introduced the world’s first LCD calculator called the Lloyd’s Accumatic 100.
Display chart outlining the principals of DSM. DSM gave way to TN (Twisted Nematic) LCD which was invented by Wolfgang Helfrich and Martin Schadt working at Hoffman-La Roche in Switzerland. Their Patent filed December 4, 1970, took priority over an identical Patent filed by James Fergason in the United States on April 22, 1971. The company of Fergason ILIXCO (now LXD Incorporated) produced the first LCDs based on the TN-effect, which soon superseded the poor quality DSM types due to improvements of lower operating voltages and lower power consumption.
In 1972, the first active-matrix LCD panel was produced in the United States by T. Peter Brody’s team at Westinghouse, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Further improvements were the STN (super twisted nematic) in 1983, IPS (In Plane Switching) in 1990, Super IPS in 1992 and Multi-Domain LCD in 1996. Multi-Domain and IPS LCDs remain the dominant LCD designs as of 2010. Courtesy Wikipedia.
EIGHT YEARS LATER, 1976
Sharp Corporations first experimental 5.5 inch LCD display prototype in 1976 operated at 15 frames per second. It led to the 3 inch active matrix TFT color LCD in 1987 (shown on Page Three A) and the 14 inch active matrix TFT color LCD in 1988. (shown on Page Five Trinitron)
TEN YEARS LATER, 1978
Based on the pioneering work by George Heilmeier’s team, the first LCD televisions begin to appear. Here, Panasonic demonstrates a prototype black and white LCD television utilizing a method called “dynamic scattering mode”, (one of the electro-optic effects discovered by Heilmeier) with 57,600 pixels in a 2.4 inch screen, consuming only 4.6 volts. Hitachi and Seiko were also working on early development prototypes.
1981 REFINED LCD PROTOTYPE
Toshiba demonstrates a two inch LCD prototype television with zoom switch to enlarge the central portion of screen.
1982, INTRODUCTION OF THE WORLD’S FIRST LCD TELEVISION AND FEATURED WEBSITE TELEVISION
Seiko T 001 TV Watch
Perhaps the most desired TV for collectors. This TV watch introduced in 1982, is the worlds first 100% solid state television and the first LCD television. It is a VHF/UHF and FM receiver with full time keeping functions. The receiver connected with the watch by a thin cable. The cable plugged in to the top of the receiver and the other end snapped on to the six contacts you see in the photo.
The idea was, if you wore a jacket, one could place the receiver in your pocket and run the cable down the sleeve of the jacket to the wrist. The supplied stereo headphones acted as the antenna. This was the introduction of LCD (liquid crystal diode in a TV device) technology to the world. (In today’s world, LCD is known as liquid crystal display) Field-effect guest-host (an electro-optic effect discovered by George Heilmeier at RCA) liquid crystal with 31,920 pixels. The display is small but very easy to view in bright sunlight, a marvel of technology in 1982! The first one piece LCD TV would come one year later, the Casio TV 10. More about that later.
Seiko TV Watch retailed for $495.00. Roger Moore wore this watch in one of the James Bond films and Tom Hanks could be seen wearing this watch in the movie Dragnet. I purchased this set new in 1983 and is fully functional today. Click on the image for a full wallpaper 1600×1200 for your computer.
Screen shot from my television of the movie Dragnet. Here, a scene of Tom Hank’s wearing the Seiko TV watch.
START OF COLLECTION TIME LINE 1959 THROUGH 2000
It all started here with the 1959 Philco Safari The worlds first transistor portable television. Philco beat Sony to the market by eleven months. Sony founder (and President at the time) Masaru Ibuka, proudly announced to the world on Christmas day, December 25, 1959 the production ready Sony TV 8-301W, but it was first released for sale in May, 1960. This set is anything but micro, weighing in at over 15 pounds and 15 1/2 ” h x 7 7/8″ w x 5 3/4″ d. It still had two miniature high voltage rectifier tubes. Fully self contained with a built in 7.5 volt rechargeable battery. Philco engineers had to reduce the battery drain, so they came up with a two inch upward firing CRT (cathode ray tube) which reflected off of a silvered mirror and out though a 5″ x 7″ projection lens. A projection TV just like the very old vintage console models! One could view a virtual 14 inch image from 3 1/2 feet away, but if one were not directly in front of the TV, the image faded out. Field tests published show that the Safari was a strong performer picking up distant broadcasts that larger console models of the day could not pick up with a surprising clear image. The transistors were custom designed for this TV. It has a protective sun shade. It did not sell in big numbers largely because of it’s expensive $250.00 1959 dollars, however sales were brisk across the country in anticipation of the 1959 World Series. ( for the first time, no worries about a power cord) The Los Angles Dodgers beat the Chicago White Sox, four games to two.
Emil I. Harman (1897-1982) was an extremely talented designer who came to U.S. from Germany right after WWI. He designed the Safari TV. He filed for U.S. Patent on June 16, 1959 and Patent issued May 22, 1962. I first saw this set as a boy, 12 years old in my native Milwaukee neighborhood. I remember walking in a store on a bright sunny summer day in 1959, attracted by a transistor radio in the window. My jaw dropped when there was this strange looking TV, set up in it’s own display stand. I had never seen anything like it. Indeed, after that day, I never saw one again or thought about it until just recently after my retirement, there she was shinning and new looking at an estate sale. A 51 year reunion and ironically, the model number is H 2010 ! The photos you see are as purchased. It displays a full raster, beyond that, I have not tested it. Only VHF 13 channels, no UHF.
Philco Safari Black World’s First Transistor Portable Television Debut June 1959
Just arrived, 1959 Philco Safari, this time in black leather cowhide. Acquired May, 2010. Hooked a digital converter box to it and it works and displays a very nice clear image. The previous owner removed the chrome strip that fastens down the lens/optic top portion to the chassis, probably to service the unit. I will try to find a replacement for this strip. The leather case is pristine.
A television commercial for the Philco Safari found on YouTube courtesy of TheHistoryofTV.
This photo shows the two inch CRT below and the reflected image. I could not get my camera to focus on the image as it focus’s 4 inches behind viewing screen . My camera’s infrared focused on the viewing screen. It is actually very clear and the further one pulls away from the set the larger the image appears.
The little two inch CRT, fires upward and reflects on a mirror which directs the image light out through the viewing projection lens. Philco stated that one would see a 14 inch image 3 1/2 feet away. A bit optimistic, the Sony KV 4000 shown for comparison purposes has a 3.7 inch display and the photo was taken 4 1/2 feet away, more accurately it looks like 6 to 7 inches. The CRT is actually very clear but not as good as the Panasonic TR 1010, 1020 or 1030 shown on these pages. The Sony KV 4000 from 1980 in left hand corner has over scan, the Safari has severe over scan, about 25% of the image is lost compared to today’s modern televisions with pixel by pixel image mapping. Severe over scan was common in early television. All in all, not bad for 51 year old technology!
Next up, Sony TV 8-301W
SONY TV 8-301W
Marketed May, 1960 in Japan and June, 1961 in the United States, the worlds first direct view transistor black and white, fully portable (no power cord, the battery connected into the recessed area at the back of the set) television and the first imported to the United States by Sony. On the internet, you may see this set quoted as being the first all transistor TV. Not true, this set also used miniature high voltage rectifier tubes. It has a 8 1/2″ CRT. In the 60’s, Sony would market a number of black and white televisions sometimes referred to as ” Tummy TV ” or ” Walkie Watchie ‘ in advertisements. They became smaller with 5 and 4 inch CRT’s. Television miniaturization is underway, but these sets were to large and heavy to carrying around as a personal device. That would change soon.
Sony TV 8-301W Prototype.
An interesting vintage photo of three Sony TV 8-301W’s, unknown location, possibly a department store in Tokyo, about 1960. Photo courtesy of Persimmonous.jp.
Click on image for full view.
The classic Sony 8-301W arrived today, June 14, 2010, 49 years after it went on sale to the U. S. and the world in May, 1960 and June, 1961. Eight and one half inch (8 1/2″) black and white CRT, I just have the television and power cord, no accessories. The original battery pack contained two 6 volt batteries and attached to the rear of set. Very organic, retro looking solid all metal construction. It has an adjustable sun visor, two antenna inputs and two earphone inputs. It has a 6 inch oval speaker that fires downward. Weighs 13 1/4 lbs; 23 transistors, 2 high voltage rectifier tubes, it is not all solid state. Built for easy servicing with snap out printed circuit boards. This set is in very good condition cosmetically, no dents, cracks or chips, just a few minor scuffs. The chrome is bright and clear, the operating indicators light up. Antenna is straight and in good condition. The three white push buttons look and feel like porcelain and give great feedback in the form of a satisfying snap. Retail price in 1960, $249.95. For that kind of money, one could buy a full size console TV for the family viewing room. One had to be a well heeled individual to afford a set like this one. Reports say that this television firmly established Sony in the American culture as a reliable manufacture of electronic equipment, while others report that this set set was not reliable and prone to failure. I believe history sides in favor of Sony. The set powers up and when I attached a digital converter box to the 75 ohm input, I received a broken unstable image with sound. The bottom portion is cut off. This TV will require restoration for proper operation. The set measures 10″ d x 8 1/4″ w x 7 3/4″ h excluding the projecting handle.
I had this television restored to about 90% of original performance and initial impressions start with significant over scan as was typical of sets in this time period, focus could be better and blooming is evident. There is some buzzing in the sound and the image wants to tear on scene shifts on today’s high contrast high definition telecasts. The picture tear was removed by adjusting the gain control. Below, screenshots from the television series Bonanza, Season 2, Episode 16: The Courtship, original air date, January 7, 1961, broadcast on the NBC network. These shots captured on the fly, not a DVD, July 13, 2011 from the Me TV network. This is what you might have been watching on this set back then. This television went on sale in May, 1960.
One more screenshot.
See page Viewers Televisions for additional screenshots and information on restoration of this television.
Up next, Sony Micro TV 5 303-W
Sony Micro TV 5 303-W Black Introduced in 1962, this was Sony’s second micro black and white television with a five inch CRT, also know as the “Tummy TV” in Sony advertisements. It was designed for operation in automobiles and used new, more stable circuits and transistors, 25 total, 5 Silicon, 3 Epitaxial, 20 Germanium and 3 high voltage rectifier tubes. (Yes this set is not 100% solid state) The set runs hot. It is said that Sony learned from some of the problems of their first TV, the 8-301W in 1960 and this set has a reputation for being more reliable. A 12 volt battery pack was available but it was large and heavy and not designed to be attached to the set. I learned from Sony’s Global website that the word ” Micro ” was first used for this set. This television measures 7 5/8″ W x 4 1/4″ H x 7 1/4″ D and weighs 8 lbs. It has an external antenna input and two earphone jacks. The cabinet is constructed from a single sheet of metal and has an adjustable stand underneath the set for better viewing angles. It has a side way firing three inch speaker and above the speaker, four holes for service adjustments. It also has an illuminated channel indicator and was available with silver face plate and light gray cabinet. This set retailed for $229.95 reduced to $189.95 one year later. I purchased this TV in July, 2010 at an extremely reasonable price. It came with it’s own travel style suitcase which is lined and even has an expandable pouch for accessories. Nice touch, Sony. Power cord, car power adapter, earphone and owners manual. The clip that holds the rod antenna is broken, otherwise in great cosmetic condition. To my delight, after connecting a digital converter box, the set works well, with bright, stable image, good contrast and sound. Only a slight alignment problem, the image is tilted to the right, you can see this in the live screen shot below. I should be able to correct this once I find out what the four service adjustments do. A service manual is needed.
Sony Micro TV 5 303-W Gray
Here is the identical television as the model above except in the alternate color combination. I found this set April, 2011 in excellent cosmetic, working condition with all available accessories and complete paperwork. Prior to 1965, virtually all televisions in the U.S. were sold with VHF (very high frequency) channels 2 through 13 reception capability only. With early television in the U.S., there were typically only 3 channels available in major cities, one for each television network, ABC, American Broadcasting Company, CBS, Columbia Broadcasting Company and NBC, National Broadcasting Company. Later, independent stations appeared and then PBS, Public Broadcasting Service. PBS was funded by viewer donations. My home town of Milwaukee as an example in the 1950’s, had channels 4, NBC, 6, ABC and 12, CBS. Later, channel 10, PBS and one UHF station, 18. Do to television station expansion, over crowding, interference and technical issues, the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) opened up a new air wave for these stations called UHF (ultra high frequency) channels 14 though 83. If you wanted to receive these new independent stations, one had to purchase an optional UHF converter box which attached to the television. Congress in 1961, passed the All-Channel Receiver Act (ACRA) and the FCC mandated that after 1964, all future televisions would have to be sold with built in UHF band reception with no converter required. These converters were rather ungainly looking devices that sat on top of televisions much like cable converter boxes. The FCC later restricted the UHF frequency to channels 14 through 69. This Sony shows the optional UHF converter box Model VUC-4W, Channel coverage A14 to A83, converted channel A2 or A3, attached to the television as an example of these converter boxes. Most of the time they were cumbersome and could not be attached as neatly as this Sony set. It sold for $49.95. It could easily be detached and stored in the travel case Sony provided. Future Sony televisions and all others, would have the mandated UHF tuners built in as you can see by scrolling down this Time Line.
The UHF antenna in collapsed position.
UHF antenna in open position. The UHF dial scale is replicated on the “T Bar”. The signal could be optimized by sliding the T Bar up or down the scale. The T Bar expanded as it reached the top of scale for lower frequency’s and retracted when moved to the bottom of scale. The four rods locked into place, aligning with the four arrows. The bottom rod simply plugged into the receptical at the top of the converter box with free 360 degree rotation. When not in use, the unit unplugged and collapsed for easy storage. Typical detailed Sony engineering, effective, but not very attractive as you might imagine. Where have you seen a UHF antenna like this? UHF converter boxes would soon disappear from the television landscape.
Sony travel case detail.
Up next, Brionvega Algol 11
Brionvega Algol 11
Posted April 30, 2014
It is not exactly a micro television, but this set definitely deserves its place in the Micro Television Timeline. We finally found this model located in San Francisco, and were not keen in taking a chance of having one shipped from Italy with the possibility of handling damages and high shipping costs.
Initially called B.P.M., the company was founded in 1945 in Milan, by Giuseppe Brion, and engineer, Pajetta. It manufactured electronic components and later, in 1960, the business became known as Brionvega. In 1964, an unusually designed portable television set, designed by Italian Marco Zanuso and German colleague Richard Sapper, was launched by Brionvega named “Algol”.
Brion’s televisions used cutting-edge technology and advanced manufacturing techniques, and applied his distinctive design philosophy to the company’s products.
The Algol’s beautiful iconic design has won numerous design awards including being selected by MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) for inclusion in their collection. It is also on display at the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci in Milan. Today the Algol is sought after by collectors worldwide. Visit the Brionvega website to learn more about the designers and products.
This model is the original, a black and white, eleven inch CRT, and was available in orange-red, black and light grey. This set is unusual because of the seldom seen yellow-amber color. The screen is angled upward and seems to say “look at me”. The graceful stainless steel handle rises from its recessed resting place and echoes the same lines of the cabinet. All the controls are placed to the rear, out of the way, in small recessed cavities allowing for a clean unobtrusive face for viewing.
The television arrived today, April 30, 2014, in remarkable condition for its age of 50 years, no chips or cracks, only minor discoloring and some spider web scratches on the handle. It appears that the protective screen can be removed for cleaning.
We plan to detail the set at a later date. I have not verified operation, but the seller said he purchased the set 6 years ago in Milan at a repair shop, and it was working fine at that time. He brought the Algol home as a carry on and just displayed it in his home. It has the European power plug, and probably works on the Pal television system. The set measures 10″ W x 9 3/8″ H x 11″ D.
I just learned that the seller was the lead designer at Adobe and works at Apple. He has also created several applications for iPhone/iPad.
Tap or click on images for full view.
Up next, Sony Micro 5-307UW Black
Sony Micro 5-307UW Black
After the All-Channel Receiver Act was passed by Congress and mandated by the Federal Communication Commission, Sony modified the design of the original model 5 303-W shown above, with this model introduced late 1964 to incorporate the built in UHF band tuner. A Japanese collector informed me that this model was introduced in Japan in 1963. Sony was still advertising the model 5 303-W in national publications in the U.S. such as Life Magazine in 1964, so my best guess is that this model became available late 1964.
Essentially unchanged, but now you can see the vertical UHF dial incorporated into the front panel. The on-off rocker switch was eliminated and incorporated with the volume control and the illuminated rotary channel selector was moved to the bottom of the panel. Unfortunately, we now have three exposed screw heads on the front panel. The former model just had one. Not typical of Sony detailing. Only minor trim changes on the set, with thicker sheet metal on the front trim band. The UHF tuner increased the width to 8 3/8 inches. The depth was reduced to 6 11/16 inches and the height remains the same.
The set has been professionally restored and cleaned and I acquired this set April, 2011, in beautiful condition with great image quality for a television of this time period. Sony advertised that the scanning lines of this CRT are not visible, indeed they are not. See photos and screen shots below. Click on first photo for full view.
Next up, Sony 4 204UW Television
Sony 4 204UW Television
Introduced in 1964, this 3.7 inch black and white, was nick named “Walkie Watchie” and Sony proudly proclaimed in full page news paper and magazine advertisements, that this set was ” The Smallest Television In The World “. Indeed it was at the time. Powered by self contained batteries, AC or auto 12 volt. It has a neck strap that doubles as an antenna so one can watch without extending the built in rod antenna. A built in UHF tuner was added for the second time. (Sony made available a snap on UHF tuner module for the above model 5 303-W after that set was introduced) This set also available in black with silver trim. It has a protective snap on cover for the entire front of set. Measures 8 7/16″ w x 3 3/16″ h x 7″ d. I was keenly aware of this TV in my fourth year of high school, but could not afford one. Acquired April, 2010 and it works! Click on image for full view and download wallpaper.
Next up, Sony Model 4-203UW
I found this black and silver version of the above model, identical except the color and trim. Acquired June 16, 2011. Near mint condition. I prefer the black case over the not very realistic wood grain case of the above Sony 4-204UW. Click on image for full view.
Next up, Sony Micro TV-500U
1967 Sony Micro TV-500U
The third generation 5 inch black and white micro television from Sony. I found this one with the rare detachable, rechargeable battery compartment base BP-12, in November, 2011. The television uses 9 “D” size cells or rechargeable cells from Sony and operates perfectly. Similar to the originals above, but Sony dressed up this model in premium leather, brushed metal and chrome accents in the same style as the soon to be released Sony KV 7010UA color Trinitron introduced one year later in 1968. (See below) Details abound, such as the aluminum channel selector with channel numbers stamped out, allowing soft back-lit illumination. The set has a protective, tinted viewing screen with a carrying handle that folds and locks neatly and unobtrusively into the top of the cabinet as well as a concealed stand at the bottom of the cabinet. 22 transistors including newly adopted NPN SEP silicon types, together with AGC and AFC. Newly adopted direct heating cathode for instant picture and sound. I have all the accessories including paper work, instructions, tags, warranty card and red polishing cloth. Measures 5 5/8″ H (7” H with battery base attached) x 8 1/8” W x 8 5/8” D, weighs 9 lbs. 8 ozs; looks new and operates well. Click on first image for full view and see screen shots below.
Scrolling text in this screen shot caused blur.
Next up, Symphonic TPS-5050
This television reclaimed the title “World’s Smallest Television” in 1967 from Sony’s 4 204UW model, both in CRT size, 3 inches (actual 2.85 inch) and cabinet size. This television was also available as model numbers TPS-30, TPS-5011 and under the Standard brand, SR-TV3A. Standard was better know for their beautiful Micronic Ruby transistor radios. A very nice looking, well designed TV, with VHF, UHF reception, tinted protective screen lens, collapsible carrying handle, earphone and 75 ohm antenna jacks and full range of controls conveniently located in front, below the screen. Fully portable the set requires 9 “C” size batteries or can be used with the included AC adapter/charger or 12 volt car battery. The television measures 7 3/16″ H x 6 1/8″ D x 3 7/16″ W.
I found this television in March, 2011, remembering it well from the early days when it went on sale for $169.95 in local stores. This set is in “like new condition” cosmetically and when I attached a digital converter box, unfortunately the image is cut off indicating bad capacitors. The picture is clear and stable however. The TV came with the AC adapter, owners booklet, warranty card and original wiring schematic all in mint condition in a plastic envelope.
Update, April 11, 2015.
I found another Symphonic TPS-5050 in near perfect condition. This one displays great images, but with soft focus and the seller thoughtfully included newly refurbished rechargeable batteries.
Next up, Sony KV 7010U
Sony KV 7010U Chromatron also known as the Chromagnetron
Probably the rarest and most intriguing television in my collection, combining the Trinitron one gun with the Chromatron wire selection grid CRT, thereby simplifying the complicated, expensive color switching.
Quoting Electronics World magazine, JANUARY, 1968: “The Chromatron used in the new Sony color receiver has three color guns, but uses them to form one beam. That beam is switched at a 3.58-MHz rate which offsets it just at the moment it crosses each stripe, so that the beam strikes and activates only the colors contained in the chroma signal”. Quoting another magazine, Radio-Electronics, January, 1966, “The Chromatron uses three electron guns, not in a different principal of operation, but simply to increase available electron current and brightness. So, in a literal sense, the present Chromatron (being at the time, the prototype 7 inch set) is a single beam, three gun tube”.
Note, these two magazines are commenting about the prototype 7 inch Chromatron. We know with some certainty, that the KV 7010U has a one gun, three inline cathode tube or Trinitron, combined with a Chromatron color wire selection grid. When the magazines talk about “the three guns are used to form one beam”, or “is a single beam, three gun tube” seems puzzling. We have observed on the KV 7010U chroma video board, there is a 3.58 MHz Xtal present which is not on the KV 7010UA Chroma board, but the complicated switching appears to have been eliminated. We would appreciate reader comments.
Trinitron one gun, three inline cathodes with Chromatron wire selection grid CRT. Technically know as the * Chromagentron, but referred to in the press as Chromatron. Since we have learned that the previous Sony Chromatron’s marketed in Japan (19C 70, 19C 80, 19C 90 and 19C 100) all had three gun delta CRT’s, this Sony KV 7010U is the purest in concept to the original one gun without shadow mask prototype Lawrence Tube or Chromatron.
Sony 7 inch Color Timeline
This photo was taken in New York on June 20, 1967 during the press conference which demonstrated the prototype 7 inch Sony Chromatron. Chairman and CEO Akio Morita with 7 inch Chromatron and experimental 1 inch black and white television.
Consider the time, it was 1967, no one had seen a color television this small. All other color televisions were using tubes (valves for the Brits out there ) This model was all solid state and with a radical new Chromatron CRT. It was exciting.
It is also reported in Broadcasting Magazine, dated December 11, 1967 by Gulf & Western Industries Inc., New York (who acquired Paramount Pictures Corporation) that “the Chromatron color tube (patented by International Telemeter) would make it’s first appearance in the U.S. next year when Sony Corp. of Japan introduces it’s first color sets using the tube. Sony has an exclusive royalty license for the tube in Japan and a nonexclusive license for the rest of the world. At present, G & W is working with a U.S. TV-set manufacturer “that may lead to use of the Chromatron tube in sets produced by this company.”
A puzzling article published April 22, 1968 by Broadcasting Magazine. Here is an announcement of the 7 and 12 inch Sony Trinitrons in May, 1968 at the same time that Sony announced availability of the 7 inch Chromatron, “early Spring, 1968″ or “July, 1968″. The Chromatron is model KV 7010U and the Trinitron is model KV 7010UA. The Sony KV 7010UA became available for sale approximately October, 1968. I saw this model in Sony’s Fifth Avenue, New York showroom, October, 1968.
Another confusing article published May 27, 1968 by Broadcasting Magazine. This article would suggest that the Chromatron was already on the market in May, 1968, confirming the 1967 Sony Anual Report dated October 31, 1967 that “Sony will market a 7 inch Chromatron Micro Color television before the Summer of 1968.” However, in the Sony Anual Report dated October 31, 1968, they state “In July, 1968, Sony introduced into the U.S. market, an all transistor 7 inch Micro Color TV set.” They are now silent as to whether it was a Chromatron or a Trinitron. Further this article states the first Trinitron would be a 7 inch model and would go on sale in August (1968).
RCA’s comment in the first above article is ironic with a bit of denial. The Sony Trinitron, born from the Chromatron, went on to be the most successful color CRT in history with a 40 year production run, creating enormous revenue for Sony and unfortunately RCA ceased production of their color sets and became defunct in 1986. Who owns RCA Records? You guessed it, Sony. It could have been different for RCA had they developed the LCD (liquid crystal diode) which they themselves invented and received first Patents. RCA failed to see the future of LCD and did not want to have a competing technology with their highly successful color CRT’s. More about this at the top of this page.
Reminds me of another time. Go back another 10 years to 1958 when RCA was ready to license the Aiken flat CRT technology. (See this article with photos) Citing from a 1996 IEEE interview with William Ross Aiken, inventor of the tube: “at the last minute, I guess at a Board of Directors’ Meeting for the final approval, somebody on the Board of Directors of RCA said, “Wait a minute, we’ve forgotten something. How are we going to explain to our stockholders that we wasted millions of dollars on the wrong tube?” And there was silence. And that did it. They said, “No, we will not take a license.” So then we went to other tube manufacturers. There were many in those days, and none of them would touch it because they already knew, like Philco, there would be a battle with RCA. “RCA will spend millions and millions, and lose money and lose money, until they put us out of the business. So we cannot go ahead.” So, nobody would take it.”
Interesting insights to learn how Sony accomplished their amazing success can be found in the book “Sony Style”.
I also found a reference in the book, The History of Television, 1942 to 2000 by Albert Abramson on page 118, wherein the modified 3 beam Chromatron is called “Chromagnetron.”
Based on the above, a bit of mystery surrounds the 7 inch Chromatron and why it was introduced, only to be replaced so quickly, within a few months. This writers opinion is that Sony engineers felt that they finally perfected the Chromatron in the form of the KV 7010U and wanted to demonstrate their technical expertise by marketing the 7 inch Chromatron in the United States, even though the Trinitron was nearly ready for production and because they were awaiting final patent approval. This and the fact that there was tremendous pressure by their shareholders and Sony dealers to introduce Sony’s first color television. Sony was years behind their competition trying to perfect the Chromatron when they could have easily adopted the standard RCA shadow mask system. As discussed earlier, Sony’s Chairman deemed the RCA system inferior and refused to imitate. Sony was a company of engineers as well as it’s co-founder Ibuka. Sony was an innovator as outlined in their founding prospectus. In the end, we believe that Sony could have continued marketing the Chromatron in the United States, but it would have made no sense for them to do so. They would need to continue paying royalty rights to Paramount or it’s successor and the Aperture Grill and associated components were easier to manufacture and similar to the fine wire selection grid, although not as efficient and Sony could patent their own exclusive Trinitron design which solved all the problems of the Chromatron.
Known Sony 7 inch color televisions:
1. My set below, Sony KV 7010U Micro Color, no logo, Chromatron, Serial Number 10523.
2. Owner: J.H. Paris, France, Sony KV 7010UA Micro Color, no logo, Trinitron, Serial Number 11584.
3. Owner: Showplace Antique Center c/o C.M., New York, Sony KV 7010UA Trinitron Color with rectangular logo, Serial Number 12290.
4. Owner: Harry Poster, New Jersy, Sony KV 7010UA Trinitron Color with rectangular logo, Serial Number 12830.
5. Owner: C. Murray, Los Angles Sony KV 7010UA, Trinitron Color with oval logo, Serial Number 13190.
Based on the above Serial Numbers and the fact that the Sony KV 7010U was on the market for approximately 3 months, we speculate that the production numbers for this television are probably one thousand or less. A note on the serial numbers. The first digit represents some sort of control number. These 7 inch colors sets were limited edition models and only available in the United States and Canada. When Mr. Ibuka announced the Sony KV 1310 in Japan (model KV 1210U domestically) in May, 1968, he said 10 thousand units would be available by October, 1968. His engineers thought this number was impossible to achieve. Also consider that the KV 1310 (KV 1210U) were mass produced for world wide distribution, not a limited edtion model. It has been reported that Sony achieved their goal and the first KV 1310’s went on sale in Japan in October, 1968. The KV 1210U was not available in the United States until Spring, 1969. While it may have been possible, we believe it was very unlikely that my set for example with serial number 10523, would have been the ten thousand five hundred twenty third edition. The Model KV 7010U had a production run of approximately 3 months, therefor we believe this model was the five hundred twenty third edition. Based on the second model in the above list with serial number 11584, we know that Sony switched to the Trinitron CRT in this particular set. There is a difference of 1061 units between my Chromatron and this Trinitron. The question is, at what point in the serial number sequence, did Sony switch to the Trinitron CRT? We would appreciate further information or correction from readers of this article.
UPDATE: January 28, 2013 the first Sony color television imported to the United States was a Chromatron! Details below and on the Chromatron page. You read about it on Visions4.net.
A very special television for collectors because it was introduced April, 1968, being the first production Sony color model to go on sale in the U.S. market and it uses a Chromatron CRT instead of the Trinitron CRT. It is fully described on Page Five Trinitron. Apparently, the KV 7010U was only marketed for 3 months, possibly less then that. Starting approximately August, 1968, the first of two later production models were introduced as the model KV 7010UA. These models had major and minor changes, the first renamed the set from “Micro Color” to “Trinitron Color” and added a rectangular three color logo and the second changed the logo to the ellipse design.
These two later production models were modified, changing to the newly developed Trinitron CRT. The KV 7010UA model was discontinued in 1970 and both the KV 7010U and KV 7010UA are extremely rare to find today, so I believe the production numbers were limited.
When introduced, this model was the smallest, lightest (18 lb. 14 oz.) color television in the world and produced the sharpest, best focused, brightest, most realistic color image available. It set a new standard for color reproduction. Soon production studios, television control rooms, hospitals and research facilities would be using the Trinitron color CRT as monitors.
I purchased my first model, the KV 7010UA in spring, 1969 still working well in 2006 when my wife mistakenly gave it away to charity, so after a 4 year search, was happy to find (January 16, 2013) this model which turned out to be an earlier model then my original and a Chromatron to boot.
The set features low power consumption 65W Max., sharp corners on screen face, quick start, integrated color-contrast control, sharper focus, greater brightness, automatic color control, no set up adjustment (For the KV 7010UA, Sony reduced the convergence controls from 12 to 2 and one is available for the user at the rear of set) and fully transistorized, 49 transistors, 32 diodes. The screen is 6 1/2 inches and the set measures 8 11/16″ W x 10 1/16″ H x 13 1/2″ D.
This television is in good cosmetic condition, but missing the small chrome piece for the right side of carrying handle. The set is finished off with beautiful leather, polished chrome, machined metal surfaces and a glass viewing screen to protect the CRT. The set powers up but has a defective image. Hopefully we can bring this set back to life and will provide screen shots if successful. In the meantime, please see below and the Chromatron page for more information on this television.
* Update: February 13, 2013
This set was partially repaired. When the set was opened, to my surprise and amazement, we discovered a three beam, one gun Chromatron! (Complete information on this CRT on The Chromatron page) Until this time, it was only rumored that the KV 7010U might have been a Chromatron CRT. Prior to this time, I have not seen any information beyond the 7 inch Chromatron prototype, displayed in 1967. Back in the day and currently, I have been unable to find any reference to the actual sales information or details on a KV 7010U.
I queried Sony’s History Archive in Japan and was unable to find any information on this model. It has always been about the KV 7010UA with Trinitron CRT. I believe only a limited number of Chromatron CRTs were manufactured and Sony quickly swapped it out with the newly developed Trinitron CRT that was introduced in fall of 1968. This CRT is a hybrid Chromatron, the original design used a single electron beam which was switched to each phosphor strip, this model uses three inline beams within a single gun. This diagram illustrates our belief that this television uses a one gun, three beam inline system. The Trinitron was under development, but not yet ready when the KV 7010U was introduced.
(Sony considered licensing the Trinitron, it was designed to work with the Chromatron, Trinitron and Shadow Mask systems.) If anyone has more information about the history of this model, please drop me a line.
Unfortunately, all three beams tested low on emissions and the red beam is extremely weak. It is a testament to the high efficiency of the Chromatron luminance (85%) that the screen shots below are still amazingly bright. In fact, the brightness control is set back in these shots. This Chromatron eliminates the Shadow Mask and the Apeture Grill and instead uses a color selection grid utilizing fine wires that are located behind the vertical phosphor strips and electronically, focuses the red, green and blue beams to the proper phosphor screen strips. There are approximately 410 sets of red, green and blue strips or a total of 1230 etched across the screen. Because the wires are so fine or transparent, the light from the electron beams excite the phosphor screen with more then 80% efficiency. A high voltage power supply accelerates the electron beams giving “post-acceleration and post deflection focus” effect. A Chromatron CRT requires no convergence, the foregoing being a simplification, but described fully on the Chromatron page.
Forty six capacitors and one resistor were replaced. Everything was done to restore this rare model, but we could not find a service manual for this model. This set differs from the KV 7010UA Trinitron in several aspects, having an electronic purity adjustment instead of the conventional manual magnets and a second high voltage rectifier tube and power supply with three HV connections to the Chromatron CRT, two to the CRT bell and one to the neck for convergence. We thought about trying to rejuvenate the CRT, but decided it too risky with only a small chance of improvement. See emission test photos on PAGE FIVE TRINITRON. We set the red drives to maximum and set back the green and blue drives to compensate. At this point, the best option is to have the CRT rebuilt. The color screen shots below are the best we can achieve due to the very weak red beam, causing improper color balance. You can see an odd bright spot on the lower right side of the screen, caused by a cold foreign object stuck inside the CRT causing a flow of electrons. On Sony’s History website, Sony describes the difficulty of manufacturing the Chromatron CRT and further describes how aluminum film was placed behind the phosphor coating to double the brightness and would sometimes flake off and get stuck on the color selection grid. This might be the problem, evidenced by the bright spot. The Chassis number is SCC 03-A, Serial number 628. I am very happy to have found this rare model made for the American market. I want to thank Andy Cuffe for his expertise and help repairing this television. See complete details, and photos (many inside the set) of the repair process along with a description of the Chromatron system on the Chromatron page.
*Update February 17, 2014:
Broadcasting Magazine January 15, 1968, reports: Gulf Western parent company of Paramount Pictures Corporation, holder of the Chromatron patent announced that Sony Corporation of Japan, would begin selling a 7 inch Chromatron color television in April, 1968.
In the the April 29, 1968 Volume 41 Number 9 issue of Electronics Abroad magazine it is reported that Sony has decided to drop the Chromatron CRT from the Sony 7 inch television and starting in June, 1968 would instead begin shipping a set “using a tube right out of the laboratory” (the Trinitron model KV 7010UA). The reason given was that the one gun Chromatron requires hard-to-make color switching grids.
Sony quietly dropped the Chromatron tube within 3 months of introduction and re-engineered the KV 7010 chassis with the Trinitron tube. (Source, Broadcasting Magazine)
Update March 26, 2014: I think we solved the mystery. Sony’s purchase of a Chromatron non-exclusive license with Paramount Pictures read in part: to provide “technical assistance in the production of a chromatron tube and color television receiver utilizing it.” (Source, Sony History website) If we can find and read the entire agreement, we may find that Sony was contractually obligated to manufacture a Chromatron for the United States market and share technical information with Paramount who we know wanted to license to other U.S. manufactures.
Update April 6, 2014:
On January 27, 1969, Gulf Western Industries, who purchased Paramount Pictures, sued Sony for alleged failure to share technical information pursuant to the 1964 license agreement and also on the Trinitron. (In 1961, Sony secured an exclusive license to develop the Chromatron in Japan only. In 1964, Sony obtained a non-exclusive license for the rest of the world.) We reviewed the case in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York and read the Complaint and Sony’s Answer. Sony alleged that Great Western breached the Agreement by licensing the Chromatron Patents to Philco-Ford in 1967 without notice to Sony per the 1964 Agreement. Both the 1964 and 1967 Agreements were made part of the case as exhibits. The case was settled and discontinued with prejudice by both parties, by Stipulation filed December 9, 1969.
The 1964 license agreement did not contractually require Sony to manufacture a Chromatron in the United States or anywhere else as I had speculated.
The 1964 license agreement outlined that Paramount would be keeping track of the numbers of Sony Chromatrons sold for royalty purposes. Today Viacom is the successor in interest to Gulf Western and Paramount Pictures is a division of Viacom, so we may find the actual production numbers of the Sony KV 7010U (which I suspect is less then 1000 units) if we are allowed to check the archives of Paramount Pictures Corporation.
Interesting to note that Philco proposed another one gun system called the Apple tube now known as the Indextron in the early 1950′s. They worked on this tube for over 10 years without success.
So in 1967, Philco was still interested in an alternative to RCA’s shadow mask system, this time working on the Chromatron. I had not known this until reading the lawsuit.
Next, the photos of Sony KV 7010U.
Click or tap image below for full view.
Still some red left … but skin tones are way off. Click or tap on image for full view.
The red cathode emission is extremely weak, tested at only .02 MA (see the test image on the Chromatron page)
Update April 19, 2015: A video of the Sony KV 7010U in operation yesterday. Watch now.
WAIT, BEFORE YOU GO, THERE ARE TEN MORE PAGES OF TELEVISIONS.