Tag Archives: television

Friday Flashback #315

Alert “06880” reader — and 1970 Staples High School graduate Scott Brodie — writes:

These days, if you glance at the back of your flat-panel TV or computer monitor you may see a label like this:

It is a reference to the time decades ago, when TV sets were mysterious boxes filled with dozens of warm, glowing vacuum tubes. Here’s an RCA console model from 1958:

Here’s the back view:

When the tubes burned out (inevitably on a Sunday afternoon just before the start of the football game), my dad and I would gingerly remove the back cover, carefully avoiding touching the main picture tube (allegedly a serious shock hazard), and remove the various tubes within reach.

We would take them to Calise’s — the only store open on the Post Road — where it still stands. They stocked a remarkably complete assortment of groceries, but on these Sunday afternoons we headed to the self-service “tube tester,” similar to this:

One by one, the meter would declare if the tube was defective or performing as intended. Once we found the defective tube we summoned the cashier. He opened the locked cabinet at the bottom of the kiosk. With luck we would find a suitable replacement tube, or its equivalent, and buy it.

At home we would install the new tube, replace all the others (hopefully) in the right places, and — if the TV gods favored us — enjoy the rest of the game.

Why did this matter on a Sunday? The NFL forbade broadcasting home games in a team’s market area, to ensure ticket sales. But Dad had invested in the  biggest TV antenna he could find. He mounted it on our chimney with a rotor, so it could be aimed at the New Haven TV station just outside the blackout region, and pull in a (barely) serviceable TV signal:

It’s a different world today — both for TVs, and the NFL.