Welcome to the Industrial Alchemy webserver. Recent updates are listed below.


2024-05-07 The Pork Barrel  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

It's that time of year again; Dayton Hamvention 2024 is rapidly approaching, and we will once again be occupying flea market booth numbers 9440, 9441 and 9442 at the Greene County Fairgrounds. We will have many items from our online inventory available, as well as a vast ocean of boat anchors and borderline E-waste begging for a new home. Those unfortunate souls who have never attended Dayton Hamvention can experience equal portions of envy and lust by viewing Hamvention flea market photos of years past.

Despite the pressures of Hanvention preparation, we have managed to add a few new devices to the electronics museum in the past week, including a BC-603 Receiver, to the Communication Equipment section of the site. The BC-603 is a World War 2 era device best known for its use as the primary radio receiver in the M4 Sherman tank.


2024-02-21 Circular Logic  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

It will take some time to get used to this idea... Round panaplexes are apparently a real thing that actually exists in a non-imaginary world, and they have self scan bargraphs inside of them. The Burroughs C6016 is like an alien artifact that leaked out of parallel and much rounder universe. Originally designed for use in panel mount navigation equipment, the C6016 contains four self scan bargraphs arranged in a cross-shaped pattern, as well as a pair of 3 digit seven segment displays. The circuitry required to multiplex four self scan bargraphs in the the same envelope is not trivial, but in operation the C6016 looks like something from pure science fiction fantasy.

2024 is also the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Apple Macintosh computer, the Macintosh 128k, and we have added a Macintosh 128k of our own to the Digital Computers section of the site. The Macintosh 128k was a both revolutionary and problematic device, introducing easy to use mouse based computer systems to the masses, while simultaneously being so hobbled by lack of RAM and storage as to be nearly unusable. Despite this, it laid the foundation for computers based on mice and graphical user interfaces, and much of modern desktop computing is descended from the conventions the 128K established.


2023-12-12 First Contact  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

The transistor is likely the most consequential invention of the 20th century... most modern technology would be impossible without these microscopic helpers, and countless billions of transistors were used to transmit and render this webpage. The earliest transistors were neither microscopic or particularly helpful however, and the Western Electric 1729 is a prime example of this. The 1729 was one of the first transistors to be manufactured at anything like commercial scale, and it is very different from the modern semiconductors that heat up our Hot Pockets and render our cat videos. Based around primitive point contact technology, the 1729 saw use in only a few products, but paved the way for a coming tsunami of transistorized devices that would leave no corner of the Earth semiconductor-dry.

Other recent additions include an Eldorado Mathmagic B to the Calculators and Adding Machines section of the site. This rather colorful calculator, produced Eldorado Electrodata, is one of the many devices produced in the 'Calculator Gold Rush' of the early 1970s. We have also added a Raytheon CRP 705A, a large half wave rectifier intended for use in early radar systems, to the Diodes, Triodes, Tetrodes & Pentodes section of the site.


2023-10-14 Rise and Magnify  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

Litronix is a prolific manufacturer of early LED displays, the majority of which are difficult to identify due to their lack of on-package part numbers. We have recently acquired one such device, an early Litronix single digit alphanumeric LED. The most obvious feature of this LED is the ludicrously oversized magnifier that has been incorporated into the LED's epoxy package. This magnifier is not an optional feature; this display contains all its segments on a single die, resulting in a very small display area. Though not very practical by present day standards, this Litronix display was produced in a time when alphanumeric LED's were scarce, and all solid state displays were drenched in necessary compromise.

Other recent additions include a photodiode from a US Army MILES Laser Engagement System, a battle simulation program that uses lasers and photodiode arrays for the world's most complex game of laser tag. We have also added an Ericsson RYG10, a complex magnetic decade counting tube that displays its own count on a ring of 10 phosphor coated targets.


2023-08-05 Black Box  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

We have made a number of additions to the Technology Museum section of the site:

* Communication Equipment: A B&D Instruments TSO C84 cockpit voice recorder, a magnetic tape recorder designed to survive the harsh environment of an airplane crash.
* Transistors and Diodes: The Motorola 2N174, a large power transistor in a pancake-style package.
* Test Equipment: A Sterling Pocket Voltmeter, a low grade voltmeter from the end of the pocketwatch meter era.
* Photocells and Photomultipliers: New photos and information for the General Electric 1P24, an omnidirectional photocell intended for use in antiaircraft rockets.


2023-04-11 Cold Light  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

Many early electron tubes were produced in such small quantities that they effectively remain undocumented and exist only through modern reproductions. We have recently acquired one such device, an attempted recreation of a Tesla bulb, an early electric light source. A Tesla bulb is a single electrode or zero electrode gas filled lamp which is designed to be illuminated by connection to the high voltage anode of a Tesla coil. Unfortunately, though diagrams and descriptions exist of Tesla's different light bulb prototypes, it appears no surviving examples have been documented by the collectors on the Internet. With so little information available, it is difficult to know where this device lies on the line between reproduction and speculation.

We have made several other additions to the site, including an Eldredge Eclipse pocketwatch meter, a small handheld piece of test equipment that was produced in the early 1900s. We have also added an Itron DP89A vacuum fluorescent display, a transitional 'bathtub' type device that was produced in the 1970's for the rapidly expanding calculator market.


2023-02-14 A Tale of Two Dies  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

In recent months we have added several new items to the Technology Museum section of the site:

* Solid State & LED Indicators: A pair of Stanley 2 die LEDs, unusual devices which contain two LED dies in a single package.
* Integrated Circuits: The General Instrument P6828, a very unusual integrated circuit in a wire wrap bathtub package.
* Photocells and Photomultipliers: A Sylvania REDBLUE 13-27681-4 flying spot photomultiplier tube.
* Solid State & LED Displays: New die photos of the General Electric SSL-140, an early LED display in a surface mount package.


2022-12-14 Strangelove  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

Sangamo is known for being a prolific manufacturer of timers and time switches, but the Sangamo CD-14 is possibly one of their most unusual. Unlike most time switches, the CD-14 does not operate a a bank of contacts based on a set daily or weekly schedule; this strange timer is built to electrically arm a device a single time, up to 145 days in the future. The CD-14's electrically wound movement is extremely complex for a time switch, and only requires a few minutes of power daily to carry out its half-year long mission. We are at a loss as to explain why Samgamo manufactured a time switch that seems purpose built to operate a James Bond-style doomsday device.

Not all of our new additions have such a questionably sinister purpose; we have also added a Philips ZM1015 Nixie tube to the Gas Discharge Displays section of the site. The ZM1015 is an unusual special character set Nixie that was allegedly used in satellite TV tuners, and is most noteworthy for its unusual OCR-style character font. We have also recently added the Sprague 2N128 to the Transistors and Diodes section of the site. The 2N128 was the world's first commercially successful surface barrier transistor, and saw use in a number of historically significant devices.


2022-11-04 The Smartest Photons  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

In the nascent computer market of the 1970s, controlling an alphanumeric LED display of any size was a daunting task. In retrospect, it was inevitable that early LED designers would push to solve this by giving their displays a built in brain. The Litronix DL1416 is a popular early smart LED that hands much of the drudgery of information display over to an integrated circuit built directly into the display's package. This circuit, which is contained in a plastic compartment below the display face, contains a built in character ROM and can decode 6 bit ASCII from an attached computer or microprocessor. The DL1416 enjoyed a long production run, and was produced in a number of different variants.

Other recent additions include a CBS Hytron 2N158, an early high power transistor. The 2N158 was released in 1956 and incorporates a large threaded heatsink into its metal can package. We have also added a page for the Burroughs B Series Gate Array , one of several chips that made up the central processing unit in Burroughs B Series minicomputers. While popular among chip collectors due its unusual 'fried egg' package, Burroughs gate arrays are largely undocumented devices.


2022-07-17 Magnetic Personality  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

We have made a number of additions to the Technology Museum section of the site:

* Communication Equipment: The Channel Master Micro Pack 35 , an obscure magnetic cartridge recording system.
* Diodes & Triodes: An IBM TH-537 Finger Module, a computing module containing two xenon filled thyratron tubes.
* Transistors and Diodes: The General Electric 2N107, a hobbyist-grade transistor fron 1955.
* Digital Computers: Updated pictures of the Grid PalmPAD handheld computer.


2022-05-06 Pork Barrel Project  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

It's that time of year again; Dayton Hamvention 2022 is rapidly approaching, and on May 20th, 21st, and 22nd we will be occupying flea market booth numbers 9440, 9441 and 9442. We will have an assortment of vintage electronics and components available, as well as a vast ocean of bulky electronics E-waste best left to the imagination. Those unfortunate souls who have never attended Dayton Hamvention can experience equal portions of envy and lust by viewing Hamvention flea market photos of years past.

Not all of our updates are related to Hamvention lore. We have also added a new unidentified EMR photomultipler tube to our Detection & Imaging Tubes page. This unusual 18 stage photomultiplier has no part number or other identifiying marks, but appears externally similar to an EMR 541 venetian blind phototube.


2022-03-04 Council of Alphas  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

A defining aspect of early electronic displays is huge amount of support circutiry needed to generate the signals for even a small amount of displayed data. We have recently acquired a Pinlite 30003 alphanumeric display module that demonstrates this perfectly. The Pinlite 30003 displays up to four characters on a set of tiny 0-65 minitron displays, using a veritable hardware store of secondary components that easily dwarf the displayed digits with their huge bulk. Each digit is connected to a modular carrier board which contains a character driver, support components, and the specialized mounting socket designed to interface with the mutant tubular pin base of the 0-65 display. The resulting display module is bulky and impractical, but in a world where LEDs were still dim laboratory curiosities, electronics designers simply no better options.

We have also added a Raytheon 2J56, a large pulse magnetron, to the High Frequency Tubes of the site. The 2J56 was used in a number of historic aircraft including the Boeing B-47 and the Convair XB-46. Other recent additions include a FSCM HE0909 quad flatpack integrated circuit. Though the HE0909 is a largely undocumented device, its construction style virtually guarantees it was intended for the military aerospace market.


2021-12-19 Herzstark's Heros  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

We have made several new additions to the Technology Museum section of the site:

* Calculators & Adding Machines: The Curta Type 1 , a complex handheld mechanical calculator.
* Gas Discharge Tubes: The Sylvania 1B59, a neon filled glow modulator tube used in military imaging devices.
* Solid State Indicators: A Nichia NSHU590E, one of the first UV LEDs commercially available.
* Detection and Imaging Tubes: A tiny Hamamatsu R444 photomultiplier, a circular cage device with an anode cap.


2021-10-23 For The Birds  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

If there were a contest for complicated devices built to solve a mundane problem, the Plasschaert No 3 clock would be a viable contender for the crown. This elaborate device combines a clock, printing press, and mechanical storage facility into a single handheld machine, all for the single purpose of timing pigeon races. The Plasschaert No 3's elaborate two-faced clock movement can print the current time on command, allowing a secure paper record to be maintained of pigeon arrival times. Even pigeons, apparently, have to punch out at the end of their shift.

Other recent additions include an RCA 5583 photocell, a common phototube used to decode sound in movie projectors, to the Detection and Imaging section of the site. We have also added a Hewlett Packard HEDS-1000 line scanner LED to the LED Indicators section of the site. The HEDS-1000 is a combined red LED and phototransistor, mounted in a large 8 pin hermetic metal enclosure.


2021-07-04 All The Right Angles  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

Have you ever looked at an IEE projection display and thought to yourself, "Its complicated, but could it be even more complicated?". The IEE Series 60 is an unusual twist on standard projection display designs, and incorporates an internal mirror that rotates the displayed image 90 degrees before it exits the device. Designed for use in narrow, wall-mounted enclosures, the Series 60 has a complicated internal construction that is as clever as it is eye-catching. Sadly, the Series 60 was not a commercial success, and it appears few examples have survived to the present day.

In unrelated news, we have also recently added a vintage Addometer to our Calculators and Adding Machines page. The Addometer is a relatively common handheld adding machine that enjoyed a generous 40 year long production run. We have also added a Ferranti ULA 9RK020 to our Integrated Circuits page. The ULA 9RK020 is a poorly documented programmable gate array from a noteworthy family of integrated circuits.


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