Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

Mechanical Television

1928 General Electric Octagon Replica

The set before wood restoration

Our Octagon with the lens in place

Without the lens. Notice the trim pieces around the square hole, and how the finish is darker, indicating that the lens holder has been in place for many years.

Front Lens

The lens and wooden holder

1928 Picture

Henry Ford

Private Collector


Schenectady Museum





Shown above are the lens arrangements from six different sets. The first is a 1928 photo, showing no front wood piece, but a more elaborate trim. The next three show a trim piece like ours with the wooden holder removed. The last two show sets with wooden lens holders, with the mounting screws in different positions. 

Replica Parts

The knobs and escutcheons on the original Octagon were the same as were on the Radiola 18 radio. These, however, were cast of aluminum from molds made from the originals.

Here is a photo of the original knob and escutcheon


The motor is also cast from a mold of the original. There is nothing inside, and the shaft can be pulled out. The GE logo on top is paper.

Here is Jeff Lendaro's speculation on these replicas:

It is clear that who ever made the molded parts had an original to use. The knobs and escutcheons are common Radiola 18 parts and anyone that knew anything about radios would have just scavenged those from a radio. It sounds to me like someone at GE had this done at one point. And again by someone who was unfamiliar with the radio line. Long ago I talked with a GE salesman that said they had one in their office for show and tell. I think they would even loan it to dealers for display purposes. Maybe this is what they were using?

Our set had this plastic logo attached. Maybe it was put on by GE and this set was the display unit Jeff mentions. Jeff's theory might also explain how the set ended up in California - on loan to a dealer there.

Norm Lehfeldt of San Francisco added this:

I recall observing one on display at the now vanished White Front discount store on 16th Street, between Bryant and Potrero in San Francisco. (The present location of a big Safeway.) This would have been in 1970 or '71. (I was in there buying a 19" monochrome Motorola set--$109.95, including roll-around stand.)

The octagon was not very well displayed or identified. It looked more like a staffer's flea-market find rather than an historical artifact on a factory-sponsored tour. Maybe it is the one that ended up being recycled in Berkeley.

It could also have been our set, or possibly a third one in California?

Our set is also missing the phonic motor assembly, which mounts in front of the disk. The center knob is used to adjust framing.

More Photos

The wooden pieces

The scanning disk. Notice that it is bell shaped. It has 48 lines.

This may be a picture of the replica, from the April-May 1952 issue of National Radio-TV News

Courtesy of Bob Dobush