News

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

 

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.

 

2021-04-26 Attacking the Darkness  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

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

* Cathode Ray Tubes: A pair of 'Tabby' CV147 & CV148 night vision image converter tubes.
* Integrated Circuits: The National Semiconductor MM5203, a square window UV erase EPROM in a white ceramic package.
* Magic Eye Tubes: A tiny Toyo 6M-E10 top view tuning eye tube.
* Transistors and Diodes: A Burroughs 'cordwood' diode logic module, from a Burroughs B5000 mainframe.

 

2021-02-14 Homo Semiconductorus  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

The history of early LED part numbers is poorly documented. New devices are constantly being 'rediscovered' by collectors and builders long after being lost to mists of electronics lore. The Hewlett Packard 5082-7002 is such a device; a very early and totally undocumented LED part that until recently was unknown to the LED collector community. With its large gold bathtub package and glass lid, the 5082-7002 could easily feature in a display designer's fever dream. The 5082-7002 may be a large, primitive, and impractical device, but very few early LED parts can be considered 'practical'.

Other recent inclusions include the Toshiba TMM121, an early UV erase EPROM. The TMM121 was the first EPROM produced by Toshiba, and comes equipped with a round lid and circular cavity window. We have also added the Raytheon CK784, a tiny blue-painted transistor, to the Transistors and Diodes section of the site.

 

2020-12-17 Fiber Reinforced  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

Incandescent displays can get strange. Used mostly by esoteric test equipment manufacturers and defense contractors, each display is lavished with bottomless funding and almost no thought of the larger market. The Eaton 925H-C is a glowing example of this; a tiny fiber optic display with two digits crammed into an impossibly small surface area... hobbled by the vast stack of parts behind the display face to make it all possible. Dripping with the spending excess that only a bottomless military budget can provide, the 925H-C is an intricate array of machine screws, machined aluminum, and tiny gold plated pins. Even the lamps in this incandescent display are over-engineered, with shock absorbing gaskets and gold flashing on every surface. The Eaton 925H-C may not be a practical device, but it is certainly an impressive one.

Other recent additions include a English Electric Valve Company M558 pulse magnetron, which has been added to the High Frequency Tubes section of the site. The M558 is a small external cavity device designed for use in marine radar systems. We have also resurrected a lost article from 2006 covering the Apple Macintosh SE, which we have added to the Digital Computers section of the site.

 

2020-10-20 Lockdown  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

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

* Clocks and Timers: An unusual Consolidated Dalton Time Lock Movement, a mechanical protector for cowboy-era bank vaults.
* Spark Gap & Trigger Tubes: The Sylvania 1B40, an argon filled TR switch tube in a glass and metal cylindrical package.
* Transistors and Diodes: The United Detector Technology UDT PIN-10D, a large planar photodiode in a metal can package.
* Glow Transfer Counting Tubes: The Soviet made OG-3, a common high-speed dekatron with 40 cathodes and a helium-hydrogen fill gas.

 

2020-08-24 Worshiping False Bitmaps  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

If there is one characteristic shared by early LED displays, it is their sense of smallness. Tiny LED digits, squinting out from behind plastic magnifiers or protective shade hoods, represent the dominant feature of most LED-equipped products of the 1970s. However, Hewlett Packard's 5082-7500 LED display is a bold departure from this trend. With a digit height of almost two inches, the 5082-7500 completely eclipses its competitors in both size and brightness. Despite this, the 5082-7500 was a commercial failure, and saw almost no use in any products. We have recently acquired several of these obscure displays, and have added more information about them to our Solid State & LED Displays page.

We have also added the Phillips ZM1010 Nixie tube to the Nixie and Gas Discharge Displays section of the site. The ZM1010 is a mundane side view Nixie with an unusual circular anode screen that allows the digit to be seen from both sides of the tube. Other recent additions include the Western Electric 2N559, an early transistor best known for it's use in the US Nike missile defense system.

 

2020-04-26 Flip Dots of Futures Past  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

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

* Integrated Circuits: An unusual Crossfiber optical switching IC, a mechanical display crossdressing as an integrated circuit.
* Nixie & Gas Discharge Displays: The common but sturdy Phillips ZM1000, a neon filled Nixie tube with a unique base.
* Transistors and Diodes: A metal can Western Electric KS 21073 Fetron , which was designed to be a solid state tube replacement for telephone switching systems.
* Calculators and Adding Machines: A Texas Instruments Business Analyst, a common handheld calculator from 1976 with a LED display and rechargeable battery.

 

2020-01-07 Causal Domain Shear  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

If parallel universes are real, what would their LED displays look like? They might looks something like the LITEF 104267, a completely alien device birthed by the bowels of the Cold War military-industrial machine. Would you expect your parallel universe LED to have a brazed metal lid, but also have multiple convex glass windows? How about a decimal point on a 5x7 LED matrix, only with the decimal point put in the wrong place? The LITEF 104267 has all this and more, and in our latest article we take a deep dive into what makes this LED tick.

We have also added some more pedestrian items to our Technology Museum, including a pair of Burroughs BIP-8232 and BIP-8521 BIPCO Nixie tube modules, each equipped with a B5991 Nixie tube. Burroughs BIPCO line of Nixie tube drivers contains a vast and expansive library of parts, most of which are completely undocumented.

 

2019-12-04 Filament Fusion  
Posted by AnubisTTP  

Have you ever looked at a Minitron display and wished that it had twice the failure rate at four times the cost? If so, a Wamco Two Digit Minitron could be the display of your dreams. This bizarre display incorporates two filament numerals into a single evacuated envelope, a terrible idea for anyone who looks for reliability or non-ridiculous socket requirements in a display. In a sane world a display like this should have never been made, but it has been made, and we have added one to our Technology Museum page.

We have also added several other new items to the site, including a nickel plated Sargent & Greenleaf Type L Time Lock variant, and an unusual Homemade Crookes Tube, a device likely constructed out of a Liebig condenser by a financially-strapped physics department.

 

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