Last tube radios in the US
Who and when made the last tube radios before the little Japanese sets came over?
There may have been an overlap of American sets along side of the Japanese. Then there are parts. American companies incorporating sub-sections from foreign suppliers. The last tube set I remember getting new was a GE clock radio in 1966. According to Antique Radio Classified, which I remember reading - with no idea of the author - the last tube manufacturer to shut down in the western hemisphere was Ken-Rad in (about) 1993.
Zenith was building them at least into the early 70's as well as TV's at the Sioux Falls plant. SS radios were also being built, at least AM/FM/Phono consoles, elsewhere. They finally switched over to the ChromaColor II chassis around 73. I was involved with getting computers installed thruout their plants and spent many hours in the R&D building talking to the engineers while that chassis was still in development.
R.L. Drake was building ham gear into the mid 70's; I dont know when Heathkit stopped. The military was still awarding contracts into the late 80's, maybe 90's.
I want to say '68 is the newest Sams Photofact I've seen that covered a tube radio. IIRC, it was a plastic Zenith AM/FM. I've got a cheap 4 tube green plastic Arvin built Sears radio from '67. You can tell by looking at it that it's a BOTL radio. I've also got a beige plastic GE AM/FM hybrid clock radio. The tuner section is SS while the rest is tubes. On the front, it says "solid state tuning". I think Philco-Ford and Westinghouse had a few "last gasp" tube radios in the late '60's. I'm sure '68 was probably the cutoff date for most major US companies. I did have a Japanese Commodore tube AM/FM radio in a long wooden case with the words "stereo matic sound" plastered across the top. The components used looked very '70'ish to me. BTW, the radio was not really stereo. It just had the two speakers wired in parallel
radiotvnut covers it well. One rainy day I went through the Sams looking for the last. Of course, that's inprecise-just tells you the last Sams published, doesn't tell you when production stopped. Anyway, Sams 987 from 10/68 has a GE C2509A AM/FM table radio. The next oldest is a Zenith N514C am radio in Sams 838 from '66.
Those are consumer radios. TV sets with tubes were produced through the mid-70s and in some cases beyond. You can still buy new tube electronics today. But I think we've basically answered the question. I bet there was an article written somewhere when the last tube radio was produced in the US. Might be in the monthly newsletter GE sent out to techs?
And, I'm sure these "last gasp" tube radios were mainly just an attempt to use up remaining inventory. I think solid state AC operated radios were fairly common by '64-'65; so, that just further backs up that companies were using up remaining tube radio parts.
As far as TV's go, most big time players discontinued production of tube TV's by '75. And, most of those were tube/transistor hybrids. I think GE was the last US company to build a tube TV; and, that was their 10" portacolor that I know was made at least through '77 and some report that it was still in production as late as 1980. I have read reports of some el cheapo drugstore brand 12" B&W TV's being made into the '80's that had tubes. I think I remember reading about one that used something like a 117JZ8 for a vertical output tube while the rest of the TV was solid state.
Anyway, I'll dig out those "last gasp" tube radios that I have and post a picture of them so you'll have an idea what they look like.
Depends, I guess. I knew of a company in the 1970's that made custom equipment for audiophiles that was still making tube radios (stereo!) on order. If that is the criteria, then there may be custom builders today.
BTW, there are several outfits that make custom components (tube audio) for computers. If you are listening to an internet radio feed, does that make it a "tube radio"?
I would love to find a little hybred set, does anyone know which makes and models came out with both tubes and transistors?
I checked my Sams Photofacts, which are not complete by any means, and the newest tube radios that I found were in set 978-8 (Sept, 1968) and 979-6 (Sept, 1968).
The 978 Sams is on an Olympic model F97 AM/FM/phono mono console using a series string "hot" chassis. It's a small console on long legs. From what I can see of the BSR record changer; it indeed looks to be late '60's.
The 979 Sams is on another Olympic. This one is a model FB225 stereo console. This is a 7 tube series string AM/FM/stereo phonograph combination.
I found a later Sams in the 980's that covered a single tube Olympic child's record player. I don't recall the number since it was not on a radio; but, it does tell us that Olympic must have been a "late player" with tubes. From the Olympic stuff that I've seen, it was mostly very low end stuff; and, what I'm seeing in these Sams is no exception.
Next is a picture of the GE AM/FM/AFC tube/transistor hybrid clock radio that I mentioned. The model tag is faded and I can't find any visible date codes without pulling the chassis; but, it looks very late '60'ish to me. It plays pretty good on AM but not that well on FM unless it's a strong local station. It does say "solid state tuning" on the front and you can see a transistor or two close to the tuning cap.
EDIT: Maybe that 68-5 stamped on the clock motor is a date code. '68 does sound about right.
What was the last year Fisher made the 400 receiver?