Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

Mechanical Television

General Electric Octagon Replica

(click on picture for high resolution image)

General Electric made the Octagon in 1928 as part of their experimental TV program in Schenectady, New York. The first TV drama, the Queen's Messenger, was produced in September of that year by GE.

This set was found in central California, where it apparently came from a yard sale. It had an additional lens in front of the viewing opening (not shown in the above photo), which is most likely not original. At first we thought that some parts were replicas, and that this set was reconstructed from a partially complete unit. After inspecting another Octagon, we have concluded that this set is made entirely of replica parts.

We have been told that GE had at least one Octagon that they loaned out to GE dealers in the 50s to show GE's history. As this set had a plastic GE emblem on the front when we got it, that may explain the why this replica was made.Here is more information.

Five original Octagon sets have survived into modern times. All but one are in museums, and one that surfaced in California in the 80s was probably destroyed.

Here is the rear view of our Octagon

Our Octagon case (left) is steel with a hammered finish, while the original (right) is brass with a fabric material glued to it

Our base (left) appears crude next to the original. Also, ours has extra holes

Our disk (left) is made of 1/8" thick aluminum, machined to produce the shape, while the original is very thin and pressed

The original lens holder has 6 screws, while ours has 3

The original lens is held in place by two metal tabs. Ours has small screws

The original (right) has a part number plate riveted to the motor base. Ours was cast with the plate attached

Pictures of the original synchronizer. AC voltage from the power line was applied to the coils, which causes the motor to be synchronized to the 60 Hz power line