Electronics at Work

Electronics at Work

B.K. Blake, 1943 - 20:00

Sponsored by Westinghouse

Animation: Famous Studios



This is an odd little educational film, possibly intended for the school audio-visual market. Like any flick meant to be shown in Electronic Shop I, it isn't real flashy but has a lot of info.

We start off with a rather crude Valve Parade, which is well lit and becomes almost an eerily prescient Valve Dance at times. One wonders, though, what Jam Handy would have done here, given his monumental cinematic achievements with Scotch tape and other fine products marching through small Midwestern cities.

We move right into a dry but effective explanation of how vacuum tubes work and why anyone ever wanted to bother with them at all. The theory is incredibly basic, but it's well presented. Today's students raised on iPods and cell phones would undoubtedly learn a thing or three, if they didn't tune out of the typical 1940s plodding pace and fall asleep first. The application scenes are a hoot, with all kinds of scary 1940s industrial equipment doing scary 1940s industrial things like RF heating, controlling steel mills, speeding up production of some kind of plated metal stuff, exposing chest x-ray patients to huge levels of ionizing radiation, and throwing out UV rays against which some unfortunate paramecia (shown in micrograph) never stand a chance.

Since it's 1943, we don't have to wait long before the military applications climax the show, with typically heroic newsreel footage of British coastal defenses giving Hitler's Luftwaffe a nasty reception indeed. We are assured that, as soon as Mister Valve has helped win the war, the consumer can expect all manner of wonderful new miracles of technology. We segue into another Valve Parade, as up comes the same typically stirring WWII canned march music that began the flick. Triumphantly, we then decisively fade out over the Westinghouse logo. Civilization marches on.


pop    pop    pop    pop    pop


March of the Valves

Valves on Parade! This effect was apparently realized with multiple optical passes from shots of tubes mounted to some kind of turntable that passed by the camera. Must have been hell to light.

Why should radio valves have all the fun? A squad of scary industrial tubes gets to march too. They look more like space aliens. Hell, it's a better effect than the first Dalleks in Doctor Who.

Who am I?

Enter our first star: the half-wave rectifying diode. Well lit, but it would have been fun to see the tube operating. Of course, black and white never does the ominous bluish-purplish glow of 866 mercury rectifiers justice, but you go to war with the process you have.

From here on, this cheezy animation of Mr. 866 stands in for all manner of weird looking valves, busily doing these six important social functions (reading clockwise from bottom left) that are so essential for any civilization to survive.

Such a VERSATILE valve!
Really Scary Mercury Rectifier

It looks like an AC pole transformer, but it's an Ignitron high-current rectifier used in large banks of same to generate outrageous amounts of DC in aluminum smelting. It's basically a vat of mercury with a graphite anode up top and an "ignitor" to start the arc. "A world at war" needs a lot of aluminum, says the voice on the track.

A brave soul opens the 50 kW air-cooled PA cabinet on KDKA's shiny new Westinghouse transmitter. "The modern transmitting room at this Westinghouse station is a far cry from Marconi's crude equipment," or words to that effect.

World's Oldest Radio Station - NOT
Now we've invented the Audion

Some of the cheezy animation at least illustrates the principle quite well. I never saw a tube with a miniature flame thrower in it, but I get the idea. This is followed by similarly stylized illustrations of a simple RF oscillator and motor control applications.

RADAR!!!! Check the kool London Blitz stock shot, right after the two soldiers walked out of frame to clear it for the title.. Time to liven up this dry little flick with some rally-the-home-front military footage of our side winning. We've got artillery going off and everything. Your Valves Go To War!

RAdio Detection And Ranging
The radar has one spotted

Hitler's bombers can't hide from Mister Valve, and his white lines in the sky. Note the smaller white lines reflecting back. Neat touch in the lower left of frame with the cliffs of Dover.

Gotcha! Another German plane meets its fate at the hands of the radar-guided anti-aircraft artillery defending Britain.

RAdio Detection And Ranging

End credits, with a nice sponsor's logo, of course. OK, so it isn't Fantasia. At least they used a cool font.


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