|General Electric was one of the really big players in tubes.|
Here's a couple of early GE boxes. Writing on the tubes in the style box on your left was orange, more in keeping with the old company colors. Tubes in the box on your right usually had silver writing. This is when the RETMA(EIA) manufacturer's code began to appear on their tubes.
|Here's two GE boxes from the 1950's. On your left is the standard tube box. On your right the 5 Star industrial grade box. Tubes of this era used the year-week date code. Writing was usually white, sometimes red and even a few green. See note on tube writing color below.|
|The above box is arguably one of the most recognizable boxes in the tube world. GE used it for decades. The only change was replacing the pre-printed 'Made In USA' with 'Country of Origin Marked on Tube'. They used this box for
both standard and industrial grade tubes. The tube writing was usually white, red or light blue. Date codes were usually 2 letter, but occasionally used the year-week format. GE's EIA code is 188. The vast majority have a -5 (Owensboro, Ky), but there are some others such as -21, -22. See below for more detailed info regarding the writing color, the 188- EIA/RETMA codes and the date codes.|
The Mobile Radio Division in Lynchburg, Va. designed their own boxes, one version shown below. The Mobile Radio tubes usually have red writing, have the same EIA mfg code, but use the year-week date code almost always. These tubes were always seasoned. See below for note about seasoned tubes.
|The tube box to your left is one example of the several Canadian General Electric versions, before they adopted the famous orange and grey box of the parent company.||The label to your left is actually a sticker that goes on large Industrial Tube Boxes.|
Note that the city is Schenectady, NY vice Owensboro, KY
This box is a variation of the very popular one shown above. It was only used during the early days of the 12 pin Compactron tubes. Shortly GE reverted to the popular box and simply printed Compactron on the flap above the tube type.
Two views of the same box.|
Courtesy of Mike Parent.
I used to have a cross reference of the 2 letter date codes to actual dates, collected from PF Reporter magazine (later merged with Electronic Technician to become Electronic Servicing). But when I sold the storefront, the books went with it. I wrote to Electronic Servicing before they went out of business, but they said they couldn't help.
I have found the GE letter codes! -Or at least some of them. Check out the table:
|Jan.||CE||CF||CH||For following years advance the 2nd letter by one alphabetically. For instance, Jan. 1974 would be CI, Jan. 1975 = CJ, etc. Note certain letters are skipped, I don't yet know which ones, but notice that the letter
'G' is skipped both for year and month. 'D' is also skipped at least for the month. Presumably you can work this backwards too. In other words, Jan 1970 would be CC (or maybe CD). Also note: 'P' and 'Q' are skipped for the month (first letter.) Does this
mean they're skipped for the year (2nd letter)? When I know more I'll post it. |
For some of the 1960's they used the earlier year/week code. I'm not sure when the change-over to the two letter code occurred. You can get an idea by checking the date codes on our tube lists.
|GE TUBE WRITING COLOR TABLE|
|WHITE||GE Standard Manufacturer's Warranty applies.|
|RED||Distributor's Warranty (sold by GE to distributors a for lower price). GE absolved of warranty.|
|GREEN||Export or Military. No standard US warranty.|
|Lt. Blue||OEM issue. Also supplied to authorized service centers for use as replacements on GE product repairs (only on per needed basis).|
|Partially from a 1963 GE brochure on the distributor and adjustment policy. Apparently applies only to tubes of 1950s era or later.|
|GE EIA/RETMA LOCATION CODES|
|188-5||OWENSBORO, KY. This is most predominate. See note.|
|In later years Canadian and other imported tubes carried the common 188-5 code. Apparently Owensboro began assuming responsibility for all tubes even if made in other factories. Theirs or purchased tubes.|
A Story For Our Time|
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