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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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Five-Tube Chassis: 1937

Five-Tube Chassis: 1937

March 1937. "Camden, New Jersey. RCA Victor. Five-tube chassis assembly line." Radio like Grandma used to make. Photo by Lewis Hine. View full size.

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Five-tube Crosley

The lady wearing glasses in the foreground seems to operating with a decent chassis but more importantly when I was a lad Pop owned a 5-tube Crosley superheterodyne receiver. We were on Long Island but at night that beast could pull in the race results from Bowie in Maryland and River Downs out in Ohio.


And, nixiebunny, the Atwater-Kents were tuned radio frequency (TRF) receivers that were cranky to tune and pretty unstable. These radios used superheterodyne technology invented by Edwin H. Armstrong that made using a radio easy, stable, and reliable. Armstrong also corrected faulty vacuum-tube theory, invented the regenerative receiver, the Super-regenerative circuit, and FM radio.

Ah, the All-American Five!

The five-tube chassis was a classic, and many versions graced American homes. These seem to have a power transformer that made the chassis safer than the cheaper models that ran directly off 110 volt AC power lines. A touch to a transformerless chassis and a good ground could deliever quite a shock!

Still using a power transformer

The venerable five tube concept would not long after this abandon the big power transformer on the right for a direct, non-isolated connection to the AC mains. Saved a lot of money, but could be a surprise for an unwary tinkerer. "Miniaturization" during WWII would shrink the light-bulbish tubes and large coils to something about 1/3 the size of what we see here. That lead way to legions of bread-loaf sized radios in the 50's on, some of which are now considered art pieces. Should have held on to those things!

Female workers

Women in the workplace was not a WWII invention. Women entered manufacturing at the dawn of the industrial revolution. In Lowell, MA the mill owners recruited young women and built living quarters for them. When food processing evolved, it was common to see plants full of women performing the cleaning and canning operations. By the turn of the last century, most apparel sweatshops employed girls and women - remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911?

Not all women

That is either a man in the background leaning over with his thumb to his nose, or the lady needs an apology from me. Women were better suited (no pun intended) for these types of jobs since their hands fit the gloves better. And when you aren't working, you can pose like a model and no one will suspect your true ambitions.


Why were all the workers women? This looks more like a shot you'd see from 5-ish years later in the midst of the war.

1936 designed hardware ?

Designed for mass production

Compare these to the Atwater Kents of the twenties. The A-K radios were more like an Erector set, all the little fiddly bits held together by screws and nuts. Every assembler had a tray of hardware from which to build the tuning assembly.

The tuning capacitor and IF coils in these radios are made of stamped steel pieces, designed to fit together like puzzles and held together by bent-over tabs in slots. This style of construction was used through the sixties, when the Japanese replaced it with little molded plastic pieces.

SHORPY OLD 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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