Electrons on Parade - an RCA Video Documentary
Videos for Engineers

RF Cafe Videos for Engineers - Electrons on Parade by RCA

Can you be nostalgic for a time in which you never lived? When I watch these old films of production lines back in the 1930s and 1940s, it makes me long for the days of America being a manufacturing powerhouse. When I worked at the former GE plant in Syracuse, NY, I used to walk around some of the long-closed buildings that at one time were a beehive of activity producing TVs, washing machines, and clock radios, and wonder what it would have been like.

This video titled Electrons on Parade was produced by RCA sometime around 1942. It is amazing how labor-intensive the process was. The automated machines are equally impressive for the precise operations performed without the benefit of microprocessor-controlled stepper motors and a nice LabView® software interface. Notice that the majority of production line workers are women who, as a class, made a move from fulltime housewives to essential workers to satisfy needs made necessary by the war effort. Most of the men had gone off to battle against Axis powers. Rosie the Riveter was complimented by Teresa the Tube Assembler.

Being big on safety, I always take notice in old films the near total absence of safety devices and practices. The only time you will see safety glass is if the operator is constantly immersed in a hail of sparks or other objects. Gloves are used by oven operators, but then only if they get close enough to the fire to be in immediate peril. Machine moving parts had no shields even where workers routinely had his/her face and hands in harm's way. Note the number of necklaces and amount of loose clothing being worn in close proximity to operations. It's no wonder so many older people back in the 1970s and 1980s walked around with patches over an eye and one or more limbs missing. Today, most of people suffering such maladies are either our brave war veterans or people whose extreme sports antics didn't go as planned.


Basically, I want it both ways - the camaraderie of a nation of citizens full of national pride pulling together for a common cause, and the benefit of advances in technology. What I despise is having a citizenry that has been sold a bill of goods by politicians and pointy-headed academics that we can survive and flourish as a consumer society without actually producing anything. We are living the results of that 'experiment."


RCA - Electrons on Parade (part 2)



Vacuum Tube - How Does It Work?

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