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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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Radio Factory: 1928

Radio Factory: 1928

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1928 or 1929. "Atwater Kent radio factory." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Terms change

Back then, capacitors tended to be called condensers, a term that largely fell out of use in the 1960-1970 time frame.

Buggy Whips and Variable Capacitors

Variable capacitors were part of the tuning circuit of radio receivers and transmitters for decades. Digital tuning has relegated variable caps to very specialized uses not common to modern home electronic devices. The old tube type radios and TVs not only provided a dimension of sight and sound but one of smell as well. I fondly remember the warm, aromatic fragrance of wire insulation, bakelite and wax fixed capacitors that the old sets exhaled. I recently found an antique radio shop which had several sets running and I was transported back in time by the aroma. Of course the heat from the old sets cooked the components and the tubes burned out like light bulbs. The early TV repair men made house calls, but that ended and the set had to be lugged to the repair shop or Dad took the questionable tubes to the do-it-yourself tube tester at the corner drug store.

Tune In Tomorrow

It would appear that this young lady is attaching flywheels to the shaft of a variable capacitor -- which, with the attached coils, make up the tuning circuit of the radio.

Future Problem

Our photograph's subject is tightening the setscrew of a pot metal pulley on a radio's variable capacitor. These particular pulleys became a problem for collectors of Atwater Kent radios as the pot metal they were made of would swell and crumble over time. In their final incarnations, the pulleys were made of brass. I wonder if Atwater Kent had a maternity leave program.

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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