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RCA Tube Department's Lancaster, Pa., Plant
September 1949 Radio & Television News Article

September 1949 Radio & TV News
September 1949 Radio & Television News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

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 old saying "Ignorance is bliss," is often misinterpreted as a happy thing in that keeping one's mind free of uncomfortable facts and details makes for a more content existence. It was probably some tyrannical statist ruler who came up with the line in hopes the peons would simply comply with his edicts while trusting those 'in the know' to look out for their welfare. We see a lot of that today in all societies - both controlling megalomaniacs and willing dupes (often on the dole). A more realistic interpretation of the saying impugns the target as a figurative lemming (or buffalo) who will go over a cliff with a smile on his face as long as everyone around him is doing the same - while praising the one who inspired the suicidal behavior.

This report in a 1949 edition of Radio & Television News includes a photo of an RCA TV tube factory where part of the manufacturing process involved workers (mostly women) handling toxic materials - usually without the benefit of protective gloves or face masks. Take a look at the "Crystals Go to War" video to see workers submersing their bare hands in oil all day long for another example. The list is long, and to be honest a lot of the instances were the result of true ignorance on the part of both implementers and practitioners. A plethora of laws now attempt to protect the masses from exploitation - at least in first-world countries. However, there are still millions of poor souls worldwide that toil daily in known extreme hazardous environments as participants in materials mining and reclamation businesses. A Google search will turn up many stories and videos of bare-footed children burning, smoking piles of discarded circuit boards to reclaim precious metals, and tribal members wading knee-deep in reservoirs of tantalum slurry - all so that we can enjoy our 'stuff.'

Then again, maybe it is best not to search and remain ignorant so that life will be more blissful.

RCA Tube Department's Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Plant

The "settling room" of the RCA Tube Department's Lancaster, Pennsylvania, plant. In this room the glowing fluorescent screen of the tube on which the television picture appears is applied to the face of the tube.

RCA Tube Department's Lancaster. Pa., Plant, September 1949 Radio & Television News - RF Cafe

The process consists of pouring a quantity of a solution containing the powders to settle smoothly and evenly on the face of the tube to form a flawless viewing surface. After this, the aqueous part of the solution is poured off. In the foreground is seen the old process in which the tables were tilted by hand to pour off the remainder of the solution after the settling of the face had taken place. In the background is one of" three giant "settling belts," containing RCA's new 16-inch metal television picture tube, on which the process is now automatically accomplished. On these unique new machines, the bulbs, untouched by human hands, have the screen face applied, are automatically washed in a variety of solutions, dried, and readied for the trip via conveyor belt to the next robot machine.



Posted July 17, 2015

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