Early Television
Early Television
Early Television
Early Television
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Postwar American Television

Transvision Kit Assembled in Ohio

Early Television

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This set was assembled by Robbie Robinson in 1949, just after the first station in Columbus, WLW-C came on the air. He lived in North Lewisburg, Ohio, about 40 miles from Columbus, at the time. The set was built with a single channel tuner, for WLW-C. Because 7EP4 CRTs were expensive, he used a 5BP1, which has the same base connections. The set was donated to the museum by Robbie.

Robbie wrote this story about the set:


Two events come to mind about my exposure to early TV.  One, while accompanied by my father to a radio repair shop, probably in 1947.  Our rural home did not have electric service & the battery-powered table radio needed attention. 

The shop owner (in a kid’s view) was an electronic genius.  His tall tower (for amateur radio) had an antenna aimed at Cincinnati & his small TV displayed WLW-T.  Snowy B&W images coming from that far away!  Wow! 

Fast forward to summer, 1949.  My mother was now a widow and we moved to a small town in Western Ohio.  I was enrolled for my first year in high school.  The local drug store, on the town square, began selling TV sets & always left one operating after hours in the front window.

Great entertainment!  Hanging out in the evening with school chums & watching “motion pictures” from the sidewalk.  At least until the station signed off for the night.  What a treat!

Word got around that a guy living in town knew about this new science called TV.  His name was Fred - can’t recall the last name.  Not sure how we got acquainted but we struck up a friendship.  He allowed my buddies & I to watch his TV after school.  Just a test-pattern until programming started.

Fred was a young bachelor, a techie who moved here from the East to work for a company needing his expertise.  He had amassed what seemed to be tons of electronic stuff & spent countless hours building or rebuilding radios, some broadcast & some amateur.  He had several extra TV chassis & radios that appeared to be work in progress.

Fred recognized my interest in the “inner workings” of electronics & introduced me to many wonders of electricity.  Even the dangers of that big high voltage tube that throws a wicked arc even when the set was turned off.  Something about condenser storage!

My past experience was simple assembly of a crystal set receiver which had proven entertainment value in our earlier home that lacked electric service.

Back to the subject at hand.  Fred knew I wanted a TV set in the worst way.  My mother certainly could not afford such a luxury and my own income from lawn mowing wouldn’t make a down payment on one.

Fred had a solution.  He had acquired an unfinished 1947 Transvision kit somewhere along the line & offered to help me finish it if I supplied  missing parts.  What a deal (so I thought at the time).

First, the need for an expensive seven inch picture tube but surplus radar tubes were readily available.  A five-inch 5BP1 green screen would have to suffice.  Then the need for a tuner - another pricy component.  But who needed a multi-channel tuner when we only had one station on the air, WLW-C channel three (not four back then). 

The simple one-channel tuner had another drawback - the tuning slug had to be adjusted between an acceptable picture & barely audible sound.  Oh well.

A transformer, some tubes & other assorted stuff were located in time.  Some parts ordered via mail or scrounged from Fred’s junk box.  Can’t recall my total investment but more money was probably spent for plywood to cobble together a cabinet. 

After hasty installation of an outdoor antenna I brought the “magic picture box” home.  It was proudly displayed in the living room (positioned so those walking by might notice it thru the front window).  Life was good.

The only TV in our neighborhood (for a short time).  Eventually it received a white screen (still five inch).  But I could never get a mail-order twelve channel rotary selector to function.

The Transvision eventually was replaced with a used GE ten inch set….that had a channel selector!   Wow…. a big screen!  And…. three stations!

October 2013                                              D Robbie Robinson

Early Television

Early Television

Early Television

The single channel tuner, which has a 6AC7 RF amplifier