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May 28, 2011



John, I can argue that the 80/5Y3 and a host of other tube types are still in production. Sadly, not very many are still made in the US, but none the less, they are still in production. I have a globe type 80 which is even older than your ST type 80 which is still in working order. The 6L6, introduced by RCA in 1936, is still in production as well. I have a 1939 dated 6L6G in my stock. Quite a few tubes are still being made and are still in frequent use. Many broadcast transmitters still use them (they are a much hardier breed than transistors, even if they are not as efficient), many HAMs still prefer tubes and of course there is the audio and guitar amplifier industry. Some audio recording studios still insist on tubes.

I can also agree that there are a fair number of transistors and ICs which have had a long production life and are still in production, however, there are far fewer discrete transistors available today than just a couple of decades ago (the 1980s were really bad for discrete parts) and a great many ICs have already become nearly impossible to find in only a decade or so. Just check out the obsolete market for pricing, that'll make your heart skip a few beats!

I think we're in much too much a hurry to drop 'older' parts for what are supposed to be better and improved (sometimes they really are) components. They hobbist market has been all but killed by 'advancements' such as SMT and high integration and it has certainly put a dent in some small design houses business by making it harder and more expensive to produce prototypes.

Mark Nelson

Your tube lineup sounds like that of an early AC-operated TRF (tuned radio frequency) type radio, from about 1928-30. The type 80 tube was introduced in 1927, so the lifetime of this bottle is very long indeed. The Tube Collectors Association could tell you much more about it; president Ludwell Sibley has a book, "Tube Lore", which is considered the definitive tome on early vacuum tubes.

John Dunn

Hi, Mark.

You are correct. Upon some reflection however, the year I got them was actually 1956 rather than 1958.

A friend of mine who was then living in the next aparement building gave it to me and I had it in my room for several years until my father made me throw it out. I saved only the tubes of which the line-up was one type 80, two type 71A and five type 27. Some years later, I accidentally broke two of the type 27 tubes when I dropped them.

More recently however, I saw another one of the same radio on display in the building lobby of Modular Devices, all nice and clean and quite a treasure! It had a full set of tubes of course.


Carl Schwab

John, you might find this website useful-----It covers the first 100 tube numbers that finally died out when the Octal base was introduced.


Copy this into your browser and it should open up. I find this
info fascinating since I was a kid that fixed old radios during
WW2 by using parts from discarded radios to repair what I could.
So I was very familiar tubes used in the late '20s into the mid to late '30s.
Carl Schwab

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