Posted on

Ladies Love The Mullard Valve Tester!

Mullard Valve Tester

Ladies Love The Mullard Valve Tester!

I asked Mr Mullard Antiques to write me a guest blog about Women working, in what was traditionally seen as a Man’s role, in the 1950s. I was a little bit worried, give Steve this level of freedom and who knows what he would write! Anyway, I’m pleasantly surprised! Thank you, Mullard Magicfor this lighthearted look at Women working at the Mullard Valve factory in the 1950s. Great images!

According to Mullard (the manufacturer’s of thermionic valve products), ‘The Mullard High Speed Valve Tester was so simple to use anyone could use it’.  Mullard made much of this in contemporary journals, and here we see a photo from one of them in which a young lady is delicately using a beastly Mullard High Speed Valve Tester.

But let’s put sexist stereotypes aside for a moment and look instead at the reality of valve testing at Mullard in the 1950s – did you know that at the Mullard Service Department at Waddon, the majority of staff were ‘Women’ yes, really, and to prove it here, below,  I have photos of Doris Saxilby valve testing in the  Waddon labs.

Did you also know that at all times, when returned valves were actually on test, manualy dextrous operators such as these two pictured would be lightly tapping the valve with a leather covered hammer to reveal any intermittent faults. Just goes to show that the ‘fairer sex’ were actually much better at testing than their male counterparts!

Her best friend and bridesmaid, Mildred Dallymer can be seen in this photo checking for interelectrode shorts.





Posted on

Radio Corporation Of America (RCA)

Radio Corporation Of America (RCA)

Radio Corporation Of America (RCA)

Thanks to Steve of Mullard Magic for this interesting blog on the origin of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA).

The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was formed in 1919 by General Electric, AT & T and United Fruit with the encouragement of the US Federal Government which wanted to maintain US leadership in long distance communications. Post war American Marconi was bought by General Electric and transferred to RCA. General Electric and Westinghouse made RCA their exclusive marketing channel for receivers and tubes in return for cross licenses to their patents.

In 1941 RCA had decided to bring its R&D on to a single 260 acre site it purchased near Princeton University. The chosen site was close to its manufacturing locations at Harrison and Camden and was opened in 1942 with a staff of 125 engineers and scientists. Early on its programmes were dominated by war-time military contracts which did not necessarily relate to RCA manufacturing. Engineers worked on radar antennas, phosphors for radar screens, acoustic fuses for anti-submarine munitions, navigation, infrared cameras and microwave communications as well as television, an important consumer product for RCA.

Post war the laboratory research programme needed radical redirection in order support the innovation demanded by RCA Chairman, David Sarnoff. He told the Radio Manufacturers Association in 1947:

“The industry does not pick up where it left off before the war… The radio manufacturer is the logical producer of radio-heating equipment, radar, loran, shoran, teleran, and hundreds of allied radio-electronic devices. He must push on to new ventures. To be successful he must not only manufacture, but he must encourage research to create new methods, new devices, new services.” [cited by Kilbon 1964]

Post war the RCA Laboratories were reorganised and expanded working on consumer products such as colour television, hi-fi audio, computers and components such as transistors, lasers, integrated circuits and advanced vacuum tubes.

Interested in radio? Then please click on the following link!

Posted on

“For your convenience I am monitored to respond to the name Robby.”

Masudaya 1996 'Robby the Robot'

One of the best-loved androids of all time, ‘Robby the Robot’ is an essential part of any robot enthusiast’s collection. Who wouldn’t want a replica of a genuine science fiction icon in their home?

0002185_masudaya-robby-the-robot-16-inch-model-from-the-forbidden-planet-boxed-as-newAfter first appearing in the 1956 MGM science fiction film “Forbidden Planet,” Robby the Robot made a number of appearances in other movies and television programs, making him one of the industry’s most recognizable robots. In the film, the 6-foot, 11-inch tall fictional robot was programmed to obey Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. This knowledge becomes important near the end of the film when Robby refuses to kill the “id monster” because the robot recognizes that the creature is an extension of Dr. Morbius, and therefore cannot be hurt or killed.

I often wonder what would be the capability of a 2016 version of Robby? Would he still be programmed for 187 languages, (which wasn’t many considering there are over 6000 spoken languages on Earth), or for an infinite number of human and animal sounds? Would he be called Robby or an unpronounceable modern name? Anyway, I digress…

Inducted in the Robot Hall of Fame in 2004, Robby was made available for collectors in a variety of forms – some poor and some superb, some dinky and some life size.

The Rolls Royce, yet scarce, iconic version is that produced by Masudaya in 1996.

Masudaya was actually founded in 1724 in Tokyo Japan, making it one of the oldest toy makers in Japan, if not the world. Masudaya has made some of the rarest robot toys in history.

Masudaya, also known as Masudaya Modern Toys, is a Japanese toy maker and was a well known builder of mechanical and battery operated toys in the post WWII era.  The company survives to this day, in part due to their involvement in the early days of the airsoft boom, during the early 1980s.

For those of you, like me, whom have never heard of ‘airsoft’, according to wikipedia, it is a ‘game in which participants eliminate opponents by hitting each other with spherical non-metallic pellets launched via replica firearms called airlift guns’: a bit like paintball.

The beautiful Masudaya manufactured recreation of ‘Robby’ is 16″ (40.64cm) tall and an authentic replica (1/5 scale).

The 1996 version comes complete with the:

  • instruction sheet
  • extra set of interchangeable hands and
  • a set of small clear plastic parts for use on his head.

The mouth features a blinking light with a talking function: Pushing the button on its body will allow you to hear Robby say either of these three sentences:

“Welcome to Altair 4 Gentlemen. I am to transport you to the residence,”

“If you do not speak English, I am at your disposal with 187 other languages along with the various dialects and sub-tongues,”

“For your convenience I am monitored to respond to the name ‘Robby’.”

It’s a real shame that this exquisite model of Robby is still in his box in a cupboard, but he waits for a loving new owner whom will look after him and keep him in ‘tip top’ condition for many years to come. Click on this link to find Robby in our shop

Posted on

What is Vinyl Revival?

Blog Vinyl revival

What is Vinyl Revival?

Vinyl revival is a term that is frequently bandied about by the media on radio, TV as well as the music press to describe the renewed interest in listening to vinyl gramophone records that commenced at the start of 2007. Currently, vinyl records make up approximately 5% of overall music sales with digital downloads taking the largest slice of this market. That said, a total of 1.4 million vinyl records had been sold in the UK during 2015, volumes not seen for at least 20 years. Recently, we visited a well-known high street music store (the one with the dog and the gramophone), and were in raptures over the range of LPs available: many from our misspent youth. Vinyl revival is on its way!!

So, what is a vinyl record, well, it’s a record made out of polymerised vinyl chloride acetate (PVCA), a thermoplastic which has a multitude of uses dependent upon the level of plasticisers used to modify it’s flexibility. Record PVCA has approximately 25% by mass of a commercial medium molecular weight phthalate plasticisers as part of the copolymer make up (- please remember this interesting fact for I shall come back to this in a future blog!).

The PVCA microgroove long-playing (LP) record was introduced to market in 1948 by Columbia Records and revolved at a speed of 331⁄3 rpm (often just referred to as the 33 rpm). It was available in two diameters; ten-inches which was a match in size for 78 records and of course the twelve-inch diameter that is so familiar today.


First Vinyl Record


The first twelve-inch LP put on sale by Columbia was Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E Minor by Nathan Milstein on the violin with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Bruno Walter (ML 4001): – The corresponding first ten-inch LP was The Voice of Frank Sinatra (CL 6001).


RCA Victor were incandescent for they had dallied with 33 rpm shellac discs in the early 30s as a means for storing cinema and radio programmes so were pretty miffed that their competitor had stolen their thunder. As a response, they scrambled to grab a slice of the market by launching their vinyl 45 rpm format in 1949 giving the world a replacement for the 78 record and sure enough they became the preferred format for singles, though in the early days, boxed sets of 45’s were offered as albums but these didn’t really catch on, after all, who wants a box when a single sleeve will do!

The LP record although considered arcane by some, really is a marvel of engineering when you consider that typically, the average LP has about 1,500 feet – approximately 1/3 of a mile of groove on each side. To trace that groove, a stylus must have the ability to navigate that groove at an average tangential stylus speed relative to the disc surface of approximately 1 mph. No wonder then that the entire record industry moved to make this the universal standard.

More on vinyl in another blog where we’ll look at the evolution of vinyl as a medium and audio quality enhancements but, for the meantime, look at some smashing vinyl here.

Post by Steve. (on behalf of Mullard Antiques and Collectibles)



Posted on

Mullard Antiques and Collectibles Online Shop Now Open

Mullard Antiques open for business

Hi Everyone,

We just want to let you know that Mullard Antiques and Collectibles Online shop is now open for business in a phased launch.

We have only uploaded a few products, just to make sure we have identified any teething problems. Please get in touch if you find some! We will continue to stock the shop with new items on a daily basis, so please keep visiting us.

You can now find us on social media. Use the following links to direct you:  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest.

We look forward to sharing with you!

For our phased launch, all of the products listed will be at special introductory discounted prices and will return to full price at the end of May 2016.

We will be writing a few posts on some of our featured products so, if you’re interested, please subscribe to our blog.

Its been a really interesting experience putting together the items for sale in the online shop. As  collectors ourselves, its difficult to let our treasured objects go: all you collectors out there know how we feel! We reconcile ourselves to the fact that our preloved objects will be going to good homes, where a fellow admirer can experience the same enjoyment owning the item as we have had over the past few years. It also means we can buy and collect more ourselves! See, there is always a positive!