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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Twiddler: 1924

The Twiddler: 1924

Washington, D.C., 1924. Tweaking the dials on a Freed Eisemann Neutrodyne receiver and a Western Electric 138 amplifier. On the shelf: Westinghouse "Rectigon" battery chargers. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Not about the radio gear...

...but a comment about the uniform. US Army service dress uniform model of 1922. Basically the standard M1912 uniform of World War I fame but with collar insignia and buttons in gilt brass rather than blackened bronze.

The uniform was replaced in 1926 by the open lapel type which is still in use today, albeit in a different color.

WE Amps

The amp on the left is likely a Western Electric 7A, a small amp using 3 216A tubes. The amp on the right, not exactly sure but looks like a 3-stage amp, transformer-coupled, probably using 2 stages of 216A and perhaps 205D tubes as output (push-pull).

The 7A is more common than the 138 but both are pretty rare these days. 7As usually sell in the $1500-2500 range today, even without tubes. 216A tubes are not that common but also not in huge demand, and are usually in the $200-400 range on ebay. 205Ds are in a lot higher demand, often around $1000/ea on ebay. All of these tube types are referred to as "tennis ball" tubes.This tube shape was almost exclusive to Western Electric, but that shape was made by a few others (United, Duo-vac for example) who made tubes for the WE Replacement market, usually variants of the 205D.

The tubes are still used for rather exotic DIY tube amps, often for the high-end audio market. There's some modern chinese replacement(?) tubes made to replace 101D and 205D types, but not 216As. The chinese ones attempt to share some of the specs with the vintage Western Electric ones but the operation points (Bias, etc.) are often different significantly.

Walter Reed Control Room?

Is this the radio control room for Walter Reed radio headset network? The radio operator is wearing some sort of uniform and the equipment sure looks like the system described here:

Technically, the radio apparatus at the hospital is of a high order. Three distinct aerials are used, large, medium and small, and each of this is attached to a separate neutrodyne receiving set in the control room. With the receiving sets, two amplifiers are used. One clears the tones sent from the receiving set to the 1,365 headphones in the various wards. The small amplifier does the same for five loud speakers with which the receiving apparatus is connected at the same time.

The boxes with the exposed tubes would then be the amplifiers which drove the headsets and speakers.


I wonder if any of those knobs go up to "11?"

Someone grab a bucket

With the wires cut on all those Rectigons, not to mention that empty lamp socket, there's a lot of juice flowing out all over the place. Reddy Kilowatt to the radio room with a mop, please.

The noisy Rectigon battery charger

If you turned a shelf-full of these on, you'd certainly make quite a racket.

Elegance lost

Just look at those lovely spherical vacuum tubes, many placed on view for their subtle blue and amber glows. And behold those handsome, man-sized white on black knobs. We have barely more than a dozen "valves" involved in this picture. That versus a few hundred billion in my desktop computer, but at some loss of elegance.

And as for the Rectigon Battery Chargers, who does not recognize the inspiration for the modern designer Espresso Machine?

Table legs

The table legs do seem a bit overdressed for the table top; I suspect they were "re-purposed" from a damaged table when the radio guys needed a table slapped together in a hurry for their gear.

Nice legs!

Very ornate legs for a table that looks like something knocked together in half an hour by someone who had trouble finding the nails with his hammer (witness the apparently random hammer bruises).

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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