RCA, the Radio Corporation of America was not only a major player in tubes, but probably had as much or more impact on our electronic lives than any other company for many years.
Writing was almost always red in later years and white in earlier years. Mfg EIA code was 274, although they almost never used it on their own tubes. You would only see it on tubes they made for someone else. Date codes were year-week, with or without the dash in earlier years and 2 letter codes in later years. Transmitting and special purpose tubes used the year-week code even into the years when receiving tubes had the 2 letter code. Also in later years, the 3 letter Sylvania code began to show up on tubes as RCA did less of their own manufacturing and more purchase from the other major manufacturers.

Tube Boxes in this table from my collection

Believe it or not, the two views to your left are the same box. Two sides RCA, two sides Cunningham. For a thumbnail of the varied and sordid RCA-Cunningham relationship, check the Cunningham page (link below).

To the right are two different RCA Victor boxes. Both show Nipper, the famous RCA dog.

Boxes in this table courtesy of Bob Ellingson

Courtesy of Ronaldo Knaapen.

RCA was always a first line, quality tube line, even after their purchase by Thomson-CSF, creating Thomson Consumer Electronics. The special-purpose and transmitting tube division of RCA did not go to Thomson. That division became known as BURLE Industries and is still active in special purpose tubes. I guess Thomson did not need them, as Thomson-CSF (now THALES) is a major international force in special purpose tubes from their European home bases.

RCA is definitely a name that will be recorded in the history of tubes!

RCA had a line of replacement semi-conductors called the SK series. Until the upsurge of NTE, they were the biggest competitor of Sylvania's ECG line, thanks to the large RCA distributor network. The package often had both the SK number and the ECG number in large print. Even the cross reference sometimes listed the number as SKxxxx/xxx(ecg#). When Thomson bought out RCA from GE, the SK line went with them. Unfortunately, Thompson let SK fizzle out along with the rest of the extensive RCA distributor net. Fortunately, I still have a comprehensive RCA SK cross reference/specs book, although the pages are yellowing with age. I also have the last version of the computerized cross reference, but it only gives a few specs, not all specs.

For a history of RCA/RCA Victor, go here: Wikipedia on RCA

RCA Date Codes from Ludwell Sibley's 'Tube Lore'. An indispensable resource for tube enthusiasts.

Related Links:
  • Cunningham
  • Real-Tone
  • Burle

    A Story For Our Time
    A Tale of Courage and Grit ~ With a Twist
    A Rousing Adventure
    Available Now!


    Last Update: 6/30/2012
    Copyright 2012 by Patuxent Communications - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    Created with Evrsoft First Page Website Builder & HTML Editor