if you are even old enough to remember the Packard Bell line of
desktop computers that appeared during the PC revolution of the
late 1980s, you probably do not know that before making PCs, Packard
Bell made television sets. Before that they made radios. Herb Bell
and Leon Bell formed the company in 1933, then marketed their first
radio model, the 35A. Neither Packard nor Bell had any direct family
ties to the automobile maker or the telephone company of similar
names, respectively. Packard Bell was sold to Teledyne in 1968,
then in 1986, an American businessman named
Beny Alagem and a group of Israeli investors bought the Packard
Bell name from Teledyne.
Because of a failing brand name, Packard Bell left the U.S. altogether
in 2000. If you visit the
homepage today, you will not find the U.S. or Canada in their
list of companies. I owned at least two Packard Bell computers -
an Intel i386 model and an i486 model - in the late 1980s and early
1990s and don't recall having problems with them. In fact, my famous
TxRx Designer (now RF Workbench) system simulator software was
developed on the Packard Bell computers. Here are some
photos of Packard Bell TV sets.
July 1957 Radio & TV News
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio &
Television News, published 1919 - 1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
The Packard-Bell Color TV
By Walter H. Buchbaum
Television Consultant, Radio & TV
One of the oldest west-coast manufacturers of radios and TV sets,
Packard-Bell, has joined the growing ranks of color-receiver producers
with a line of four cabinet styles, each using the same chassis
and 21-inch color picture tube. While not in the lowest price range,
all four models are competitively priced. The mahogany table model
with legs has a list price of $595 and the blonde oak version lists
at $625. Consoles range from $695 for the mahogany to $725 for the
colonial maple finish. Since Packard-Bell stresses quality cabinet
work and produces most of its own cabinets, the various list prices
reflect mainly the difference in wood crafting and finishing. The
sound system of the table models has a single, side-mounted 6" x
9" oval speaker, while the two console models use two 6" x 9" speakers
mounted side by side on the conventional front baffle board. Aside
from this, all four models are identical in circuitry, construction,
Three of the four available Packard-Bell cabinet styles
are shown here.
Four models, all using the same
basic deluxe chassis, feature simplified consumer controls.
two dual controls are available for normal manipulation by the set
owner, and these can be seen from the illustrations. At the upper
left is the "on-off," volume, and brightness control, while the
channel selector and fine tuning are at the upper right. Just below
the screen, a hinged subpanel gives access to six more controls
which the customer can adjust if necessary. These are the horizontal
and vertical holds, contrast, tone, and the hue and color gain controls.
In the manufacturer's instructions to the set owner, it is anticipated
that, once the controls under the subpanel are set, they are not
likely to require adjustment for long periods of time. Because of
the various automatic control circuits used in the chassis, some
of the color adjustments, such as background, gray balance, and
color balance, may indeed be rarely used.
array of conventional color adjustments for installation and servicing
by qualified technicians is available, but the customer would have
to remove the back cover and the sub-panel in order to get at the
secondary controls. Adjustment of all these controls must be made
very carefully and with reference to the manufacturer's instructions.
The service technician will check these settings under all signal
conditions encountered in the particular installation because the
various automatic circuits can only function properly when carefully
adjusted. Especially sensitive are the noise threshold controls,
the a.g.c. threshold, automatic color-gain controls, and the color-killer
The Packard-Bell models 21CT-1 and 21CC-1 both use the same
type 98C-1 chassis, which is a single pan mounted horizontally below
the picture tube. About 60% of the circuitry is in the form of printed
wiring, divided into five separate sub-assemblies. An additional
sub-assembly contains the color-demodulator section, and that is
wired in the conventional manner. In these sets, the picture tube
assembly is mounted to the cabinet and not to the chassis. To change
the picture tube, the entire chassis as well as the tuner must be
removed first. The tuner and a bracket containing the "on-off,"
volume, and contrast controls are mounted separately in their respective
upper corners of the cabinet and are connected by cables to the
main chassis. The tuner used is a Standard Coil "Neutrode" turret
tuner, which features good noise figure and can be adapted for u.h.f.
reception by the insertion of the proper coil boards. The power
supply has a transformer and two 5U4 rectifiers followed by a two-section
pi filter. Two separate fuses protect the "B+." A total of 29 tubes
plus the picture tube is used as compared to 26 or fewer in some
The circuitry and operational features of the new
Packard-Bell color sets are in many respects similar to other sets
previously described in this magazine, but there have been some
significant changes. In general these novel circuits are intended
to insure better performance rather than a saving in cost. Like
most manufacturers, Packard-Bell is more concerned with producing
a quality color set which will require a minimum of servicing rather
than bringing the price down.
least for the beginning of the color TV era, Packard-Bell offers
a factory service contract, factory branch installation, and separate
servicing through its own service organization. The initial contract
offered to a color set customer covers delivery, installation to
a satisfactory existing antenna, and 90 days unlimited service.
The cost for this is $39.95 with additional labor and material charges
for installing a satisfactory antenna. After the 90-day period,
unlimited service including all parts is available at the rate of
$7.50 per month for the first year and $12.95 per month for the
second year. By breaking the service contract up into monthly installments,
the customer is not faced with a relatively heavy charge in advance
and has the right to cancel any time. This seems to be a desirable
feature and may well be duplicated by other service organizations.
Aside from the service contracts offered, each set is covered
by the standard 90-day warranty on parts and 1-year picture-tube
replacement guarantee. Although the manufacturer has established
his own service organization in some communities, he does not restrict
customers to this factory service exclusively, especially in areas
where no local factory branch is available. In line with this, Packard-Bell
will provide service data on its color sets to qualified technicians.
February 6, 2014