Vintage Schooling

Go to School


Have a stamp? Can you read? Then why not get started in the exciting new TV & Radio servicing career?

I could spend literally forever scanning old magazines for all of the advertisements pertaining to home training for radio electronics courses. These numerous ‘schools’ even seemed to prosper during the Great Depression years, as the above 1938 Radio News advertisements suggest. There are many more ads from the same issue, some consuming the entire 81/2″X11″ page! Every able bodied man wanted to earn a decent income (especially during the 1930’s), and no matter how remote of an area he lived in, he (and his neighbors) could own a radio and receive mail delivery. These ‘schools’ knew these simple selling points. This also means that no matter how remote of an area you live in today, there has to be at least one old-timer that has his old ‘school books’ and radio electronics magazines in the attic. The theory of how a vacuum tube operates hasn’t changed much since the late 1930’s, so there is a wealth of information out there waiting for you to discover it again. I have even seen home-study courses from tube manufacturers themselves, such as Philco and RCA (sample magazine advertisement for the RCA home course shown below).


Even RCA got into the act. Who would’ve imagined?

I have spent half of my life tracking these men out, because I know all too well that for every day I ‘put it off’ is one more day for these old-timers to pass on and have their books taken to the town dump! It has happened more than a few times. If you really want to learn about tube technology, find these men today. Pick their brains, and offer to buy their magazines and books. You won’t ‘bat a thousand’, as some men have taken their books to the dump years ago, but you should at least have made one new acquaintance, and get some great stories of how things were back in the good old days. They also tend to know who else of their ilk is ‘still around’, and thus provide more leads for you to go on. Owning more than one tube theory book is a good idea, as well. The same principal stated in more than one way tends to sink in with me a little better. Lastly, be careful in using only ‘Fix That Old Radio’ type books. They tend to be speed and efficiency proponents, and only enough electronics theory to ‘just get by’. Magazines such as Popular Electronics, Radio Electronics, and Radio-TV Experimenter are a better bet, and there are always theory pages with titles like ‘Understanding Push-Pull Drivers’. Articles akin to this make up the ‘Classic Articles‘ section. Be sure to check it out.

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