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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.

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