The Beginning

I have loved electrical devices for most of my life. Being born in the era of IC chips and the like, I had no reason at all to use vacuum tubes, which were decidedly out of date at that time. Nothing used them anymore, except CRTs for computer monitors and television screens, and those were about to go out of date in about ten years or so, too.

The BeginningYet one day, while not yet even in my teens, my parents gave me a copy of The Boys Third Book of Radio and Electronics, published in the 1960s. This book had projects that used solid state devices, to be sure, but about half of them used vacuum tubes.

What was a vacuum tube, I wondered. Furthermore, where could I obtain one? So happens my grandfather was (and still is) a ham radio operator. I sent him a letter asking if he could please send me a 1T4 directly-heated pentode for use in a radio I was going to build. He not only sent a 1T4, but a 1L4 and 1U4 — as well as the sockets needed (I didn’t even think of sockets when I sent the letter).

Much was learned in building the radio, and I decided I liked vacuum tubes better than ICs — they weren’t so static sensitive! Eventually, in fact, I was so fixated on vacuum tubes that I kept building AM radios with them.