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Old 1st Dec 2023, 7:29 pm   #1
Studio263
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Default Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

I've been wondering why there were so few solid state large screen monochrome chassis produced in the UK, e.g. 20" and 24" models.

The only ones I can think of are the Philips 320, the RBM A816 and the Thorn 1615. The Thorn 1600 nearly qualifies, but as far as I know they were all 17".

The rest all stuck with hybrids - Decca 20, GEC Series 2, ITT VC200, Pye 173 etc. Even Thorn were slow to get going despite their leadership in solid state colour. The 1500 was still current in the mid 70s, as was the 1400 (just, in schedule 'E' form). I think the 1615 appeared around 1976 and was dropped in 1981.

Why was it that Decca, GEC, ITT and Pye never designed a large screen solid state monochrome chassis? There was little competition from imports in this sector, where as all of them (except Pye) produced small mono portables that could run from a 12V battery, despite the many cheap imported sets present in this category. They all produced solid state colour chassis; were valves considered 'good enough' for monochrome viewers?
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Old 1st Dec 2023, 7:39 pm   #2
paulsherwin
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Default Re: large screen solid state monochrome sets

I suspect they could see the writing was on the wall for large screen mono sets and weren't interested in investing in that product line. The priority was to make colour sets cheaper and less unreliable.
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Old 1st Dec 2023, 7:42 pm   #3
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Default Re: large screen solid state monochrome sets

This probably because these companies estimated that designing a new B &W large screen chassis was not worth the cost because they estimated that the volumes of such sets would drop down quickly.
And it could have the consequence of slowing down colour sales increase where they had much more interesting margins.
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Old 1st Dec 2023, 7:53 pm   #4
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Default Re: large screen solid state monochrome sets

I guess that the smart people in marketing realised that there would be no real demand for any sort of large-screen [405 line? dual-standard?] tellies in the 70s, when 625/colour had become the norm.

If you're paying for a large tube, the case to house it, and the associated deflection-electronics to drive it, the manufacturing cost-difference between mono and colour is probably not that great, but the difference in the sale price between a 'modern' aspirational colour telly and what consumers would view as an obsolete downmarket mono version of the same screen-size would be significant.
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Old 1st Dec 2023, 8:43 pm   #5
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Default Re: large screen solid state monochrome sets

A lot of rental companies including the one I worked for until 1980 could see the writing on the wall for Monochrome and didn't invest in any new sets to any degree.

We had a few Pye solid state mono sets but it was a few, we kept the single standard hybrid sets we had going (Pye 169 and ITT VC200) there were quite a few coming back, displaced by colour sets. I think it lead to the automatic disposal of some late dual standard sets, some of which were better than the early single standard sets, Tube - wise at least!
If there is no market the manufactures won't make them.

Much later on when I ran my own business we would have the occasional request for a mono rental but most of the 'large screen' sets had long gone. We would modify a colour set by removing the crystal and linking the print this meant older people could have a remote control mono set!
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Old 1st Dec 2023, 8:53 pm   #6
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Default Re: large screen solid state monochrome sets

The last large screen models I encountered were branded PYE but were fitted with the Philips E2 mono chassis I think. Thorn Rentals bought them in to satisfy the diehards who didn't want to pay for a colour licence. This would be the early 80s and when these dried up we also resorted to shorting out the 4.433MHz xtal on CTVs.

John.
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Old 1st Dec 2023, 10:25 pm   #7
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

Late 70s Ferguson 3850 which is a 20"" I think it used the 1600 chassis. There is on in the auction at RWB this weekend. Bob
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 12:04 am   #8
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Default Re: large screen solid state monochrome sets

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Originally Posted by jayceebee View Post
The last large screen models I encountered were branded PYE but were fitted with the Philips E2 mono chassis. I think Thorn Rentals bought them in to satisfy the diehards who didn't want to pay for a colour licence. This would be the early 80s and when these dried up we also resorted to shorting out the 4.433MHz xtal on CTVs.

John.
Yes, I recall those sets which seemed very modern looking for the time. They were fitted with the well layed out Philips E2 vertical chassis. I think they were model 184 from memory. I recall having a tricky vision IF fault on one which turned out to be due to just a leaky IF transistor.

There were also large screen solid state mono TVs using the earlier Philips E1 chassis but not sure if they were sold in the UK.

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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 2:29 am   #9
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

The E1, E1M and E2 are German designed chassis, one or both also produced in at least Germany, Taiwan and the UK.

The L5 and L7 large screen B/W chassis were around at the same time but were more modern with the L7 having a switched mode power supply and designed in The Netherlands. I don't think they were ever produced in the UK.
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 2:41 am   #10
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

In the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s colour TV’s became more affordable and reliable so the demand for large screen b/w TV’s dropped. However there was still a demand for the sets and we were still doing up and putting out older 20” and 24” 1500’s.Also some of these large screen b/w sets were demoted to second TV use either in the bedroom or spare room.
Around about this time there were some new 24” hybrid b/w TV’s imported from Eastern Europe.

Returning to topic it seems that any UK built large screen solid state b/w sets did not live very long.
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 4:55 am   #11
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

I too remember the shortage of 20" Mono sets and the supplying the customers an old banger of a colour set, with the 4.33 Mhz XTAL removed or shorted.
I did see one or two, 20" 1600`s at RR, but don't recall ever servicing one
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 10:19 am   #12
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

Probably due to them (the 1615s) being recalled and scrapped due to the well-known dry joint. Could have just modified it....

We sold a couple of the large-screen Pyes to elderly people who (erroneously) were told colour tV was bad for their eyes post-cataract operations. Ironically we did modify a couple of colour TVs to display black and whiite for this purpose. Yes, I know...

Actually were the solid state monos more reliable than the valve designs? I wonder if the 1615 was better than the very late production 1500; ditto the Philips 320 versus the 300. Mind you the Rank A816 couldn't have been worse than the A774!

I know it's not answering Tim's question, but one of the few large screen monos we saw was the Indesit. Both 24", they were either hybrid (EGB) or solid state. Pretty reasonable sets both, once you learned how to put the back on (lie it down and thump it!).
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 1:08 pm   #13
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maarten View Post
The E1, E1M and E2 are German designed chassis, one or both also produced in at least Germany, Taiwan and the UK.

The L5 and L7 large screen B/W chassis were around at the same time but were more modern with the L7 having a switched mode power supply and designed in The Netherlands. I don't think they were ever produced in the UK.
Hi Maarten, it's all coming back now. The E2s we had were inherited used when Thorn acquired the North Eastern CooP's rental contracts. The L7s were supplied new and as you say had a SMPS. Both were quite reliable but the E2s customer control panel was fragile and used to fall apart, spares couldn't be obtained and many sets were scrapped because of this. The only issue with the L7 was the tuning switchbank needed frequent cleaning in some customer homes, this was not unique to just Philips.

John.
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 2:14 pm   #14
Maarten
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

I think Philips used Japanese short travel switches and pot units in the L7.
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 2:23 pm   #15
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

In the early 1970s British TV manufacturers were struggling to cope with the demand for colour sets. This resulted in shortages, with imports filling the gap. Eventually those Japanese colour TVs would kill off the British TV manufacturers, but that's another story. At the time, British companies chose to concentrate their resources on large-screen colour TVs. Development of large monochrome TVs seemed to be paused or abandoned. Small-screen colour TVs were not pursued much either.

Thorn produced the world's first solid-state colour TV (2000 chassis) but apparently lost money on it. The 1500 monochrome chassis was a much more conventional design similar to the 1400 before it. Indeed the 1400 and 1500 sets shared some parts, enabling production of both types to continue in parallel.

Another reason why Thorn didn't change things much: they rented large numbers of 1400 and 1500 series TVs via their rental shops (Radio Rentals, DER ... ). Their engineers would have been familiar with the chassis designed for easy repair. Less training needed and a smaller stock of spare parts to carry. All of this kept costs down. The customers were happy, so it continued for a number of years. Colour TV technology progressed rapidly during this time. Improved colour CRTs appeared and Thorn as well as other companies brought out new colour chassis.

Eventually Thorn did produce some large-screen solid-state monochrome sets. By the late 1970s transistors and ICs had probably become cheaper than valves. I suppose Thorn considered there was still enough demand to make it worth designing a solid-state set, which they did in the shape of the 1615.

Philips were quite innovative with their 320 solid-state monochrome chassis in the early 1970s. They continued to produce large-screen monochrome TVs well into the 1980s. I have a 24" E2 from 1981 and a 20" L7 from 1984, however the E2 was made in Germany and the L7 was made in Portugal to British specifications (UHF only tuner, 6MHz sound). I also have a 17" 320 set - the chassis was made in England but the Mullard CRT was made in Taiwan. Obviously Philips were using overseas factories to keep the cost of their black and white sets down to a level where people would still want to buy one instead of colour. Britain in the 1970s experienced massive inflation and wage inflation, eventually causing many British industries to close or move abroad.
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 4:30 pm   #16
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

I suppose it's the same reason why turntable manufacturers didn't develop high-tech turntables for mono 78s...
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 6:11 pm   #17
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

In the mid 70s I was helping-out a friend who was in the TV trade [in exchange for 'borrowing' his little blue Mini-van for 'nocturnal assignations', and getting access to his RS Components catalogs/trade-account] - Saturdays were his big day, when he had to be in the shop to sign up new customers and take monthly rental-payments, but plenty of people were out at work during the week so Saturday was also the 'best' day for me to visit and install the telly they'd ordered the week before.

The Pye CT450/480 was a big seller; it was a G11 based design, big seller but also big and heavy when you needed to drag it up a flight of stairs.

I collected plenty of old mono valve- and hybrid-tellies of various sizes [which were invariably scrapped as hopelessly obsolete and not even suitable for Derek's few remaining poverty-spec rental customers] when installing a nice new shiny colour telly. Some customers even gave me one of the new-fangled 50p pieces to take-away their old redundant mono telly !

Nobody, just nobody, wanted black&white any more!
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Last edited by G6Tanuki; 2nd Dec 2023 at 6:19 pm.
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 8:45 pm   #18
Studio263
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

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Originally Posted by Welsh Anorak View Post
Actually were the solid state monos more reliable than the valve designs? I wonder if the 1615 was better than the very late production 1500; ditto the Philips 320 versus the 300. Mind you the Rank A816 couldn't have been worse than the A774!
Well, I never changed a line transformer in a Philips 320. 300s and 210s, that's another story! Line, frame, sound, they all caused problems. You really had to understand colour sets to work on the 320, it couldn't be repaired with a neon screwdriver and a handful of polo mint dropper sections. I thought the 320 series was an excellent television, it probably has the best performance of any monochrome set designed in the UK (especially the 17" one). I leave mine on all day sometimes, it never misses a beat.

I'm not sure I buy the idea that the manufacturers thought that new monochrome designs were not worthwhile. These sets would have been product planned in the late 60s when colour sets were still seen as exotic and troublesome. The 320 and the A816 both used major sections of their maker's colour designs in any case; the A816 uses the same tuner and IC-based IF strip as the luxury Z179 model and the 320 is really just a G8 with the colour bits left out.

Who was first to market a solid state big screen mono set in the UK? I think it was B&O with the 24" Beovision 1600 of 1972. An odd thing about the 1600 is that when it was new the firm's colour sets were still hybrids. Philips, Bush and Thorn all had solid state colour sets out before they introduced monochrome ones. Even Grundig were still making big screen mono models with valves in after the 5010 / 6010 colour sets with their thyristor line output stages were well established.

Its also odd that Philips chose the Pye name to sell the E2 monochrome chassis here, given that Pye never produced a big screen solid state mono of its own. I've never seen a UK market Philips branded E2. I've included some pictures of one I had for those who don't remember them, also of my B&O 1600 which is nearly a decade older (although it doesn't look it!). The E2 on the other hand looks like half a KT3 inside, even the clips that hold the back on are the same.
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Last edited by Studio263; 2nd Dec 2023 at 9:02 pm.
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 9:21 pm   #19
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

That half a KT3 inside was probably due to production rationalisation. The E2 chassis was a redesign of the E1M chassis, which was a redesign of the E1 chassis which was a transistorised redesign of the D6 chassis. All of those were half height chassis with the E1 sharing some mechanical parts with the K9. The TX through TX3 and L7 chassis were more like original designs though probably also with some heritage of earlier designs.

When I think of it, the switch from hybrid to solid state in Philips sets was roughly around the same time for B/W and colour. D6 (German) / F6 (Dutch) to E1 would have been around 1972/1973 , same as the switch from the K8 to the K9 chassis.

Last edited by Maarten; 2nd Dec 2023 at 9:32 pm.
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Old 2nd Dec 2023, 10:05 pm   #20
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Default Re: Large screen solid state monochrome sets.

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When I think of it, the switch from hybrid to solid state in Philips sets was roughly around the same time for B/W and colour.
That's really interesting. In the UK the 520 / G8 (colour) appeared in 1970 but we had to wait unit 1973 for the 320 (monochrome).

This could have possibly been due to the residual demand for dual standard sets for use where the UHF service was not yet available or was difficult to receive. The hybrid 300 (single standard) and 210 (dual standard) were very similar so it would have made a dual standard model more economical to keep in the range.
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