Monday, November 10, 2014

Post 18

Format Change! Every Post from now on  will begin  with a summary of topics that  you are going to read in the Post. This summary will then be picked up in the over-all summary  of the entire weblog.  You will see such a summary in the next Post, Post 19  So let's start with what you will read in this Post 18--

Post 18.  A description of the Rauland Picture Tube Plant . . .  E. Norman Rauland , founder of The Rauland Corporation . . .  Zenith buys the Rauland Corporation for its picture tubes . . . Norman Rauland re-purchases  a section of the Rauland Corporation to establish a new company in Mount Prospect--Rauland Borg  . . .two of the top executives of Rauland Borg--Norman Kidder and William Krucks were  Zenith summer interns .  . . do you remember Howard Lange? . . . a "slender strand of wire" . . . Robert Adler's comment . . . announcing
McDonald's biography . . . a plea for more readers.

Another format change! It has been noticed that this Zenith Weblog has not been receiving proper attention on  websites such as Google and  Yahoo. The problem lies in the fact that it has not been attracting the attention  of  the spiders.  (Eek! Spiders! I hear the ladies screaming, especially my daughters.)  So let's call them "web crawlers."  What they do is to "crawl"  the several search engines to find what are  called kwik's--key words in context.  For example, the web crawlers have missed the word "Zenith" in the context of this weblog, because Zenith  has no other meaning to them to them than a "peak," or' high point'. We all know what  the single word Zenith refers  our great company, but others don't.  To them "Zenith," which was once almost a household word, has become a common word with no other meaning.

So, from  now on, it will be Zenith Radio and its variations in this weblog, and often shown in bold type.    Other terms in bold type will be  the names of Zenith products--TransOceanic, for example,  will often be  capitalized. Also, personal names will often be capitalized to catch the attention of the crawlers. (The advice to do this was kindly  provided by Jean Jacques--Bridget Brigitte's husband.)

(Worse and worse, I must now  call myself a "Journalist" because the crawlers do not recognize the words "author," or "writer".)  

                                                NOW, let's get to it--

 First off, let's replace the horrible photo of the Rauland Plant in Melrose Park shown in the most recent post, Post 17. The place of manufacture of Zenith Radio's television picture tubes was actually a mighty big plant that extended for several blocks.

                       (Note:  It is actually a print of the Rauland Picture Tube Plant in Melrose Park. )

The Rauland plant  was formerly a bakery, and it was so extensive  that messengers in the bakery rode back and forth on bicycles. It was more "centered" as a picture tube factory--arranged around a long aisle lined with ovens, assembly lines, and hundreds of very busy workers. One of the most spectacular sites was the "pick and place" machine, which picked up a faceplate that had been processed, and fitted it back onto the matching funnel. That faceplate had to be removed and replaced several  times for such  steps as washing, applying the color phosphors, the tube blacking and the black surround of the color phosphors. And as those thousands of faceplates were taken away from their funnels to the several processing points, they had to be again re-mated to that exact funnel  among their thousands--no other funnel would do. To the layman (me, a writer of patent applications) , it seemed a magical operation. And when in full operation, the Rauland plant hummed and throbbed 24-hours a day. The engineers that created it made it all function seemed like workers of miracles.

As described in the last post, Post 17, the Rauland plant was eventually closed.  The cause? 
It was written that the plant was '"too old and outdated" to compete with newer plants.  Also, that it was restricted to the manufacture of 19- and 27-inch picture tubes, when 32- and 36-inch tubes were becoming common.  Both these causes are nonsense, because the Zenith picture tube engineers were able to manufacture any kind of tube and size, and the plant could be updated by them at any time. But the real cause of the closure is Zenith's loss of its second war with the criminal cartel, as will be described in a later Post. 
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Meet E. Norman Rauland! He  is a pioneer in the electronics manufacturing business. In 1929, he founded the Rauland Corporation, and in 1946, began manufacturing cathode ray picture tubes in 10- and 12-inch sizes.  (Note from REC--I recall watching a television set with a 10-inch screen,  You had to crouch close to  the tiny image to  see shows like Sid Caesar's Show of Shows, with Imogene Coca.  It seemed miraculous, and far more impressive than merely listening to the radio.)

Zenith purchased the Rauland Corporation in 1949, a purchase that included a picture tube division and a sound and communications division, and also a plant for picture tubes on Knox Avenue in Chicago. The Knox Avenue plant was later consolidated  into a new plant in Melrose Park, Illinois, and expanded to become what we know now as the Zenith Rauland picture tube plant.  Incidental to that  purchase, Norman Rauland was appointed to the board of directors of Zenith.

In 1949, Norman Rauland and George Borg re-purchased the sound and communications group of the Rauland Corporation from Zenith.  From that purchase, a "new" Rauland was created--the Rauland- Borg Corporation located in Mount Prospect, an Illinois village north of Chicago.

Today, the President of the Rauland Borg Corporation in Mount Prospect is Norman Kidder, and the  Chairman of the Board is  William Krucks.


Norman Kidder
William  Krucks

There is a bit of interesting history that links both Kidder and Krucks to the original Zenith Radio.  When in their student days, Kidder and Krucks joined Zenith as summer interns.  They worked with Howard Lange on the development of an electrophotographic  screening process --a process for depositing color phosphors on the faceplates of cathode ray tubes. 

--so you could view the President and the Chairman of the Board of the Rauland Borg Corporation as "products" of Zenith in that they learned applied electronics, and how corporations work.  And so it was with many others who became notable after following the same path. 

The products and activities of Rauland Borg--and there are many!-- are described in Wikipedia at the Rauland Borg  website,

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One of the goals of this Zenith Book weblog is to find out what has become of  old friends and colleagues,and perhaps reunite them in correspondence. It is easy to do that in these days of emails! Howard Lange was heard from recently, in a letter he wrote to Marianne, McDonald's daughter, of which I received a copy.   Here is the "gist" of the letter. 

"As a long-time employee of Zenith, I have been reading Ralph Clarke's story of the company with interest and helping him a bit here and there." (Comment by  RC:  Howard has been most helpful and encouraging!) Howard goes on to write:  "I started working in 1963 as a physicist for the Rauland Subsidiary  (later Division) at the Niles Rauland Research and Development  location.  I enjoyed working at several other locations over the 36 years I was employed, sometimes at Zenith on Milwaukee Ave in Glenview, and sometimes at the Rauland factory in Melrose Park.  I worked on the early development of color CRTs, new ways to apply the phosphor, projection TV screen design, and optics for exposing TV screens during the manufacturing process, and more.

"One of the interesting things I learned from Ralph's weblog was the involvement of your dad in setting up the Zenith profit sharing plan.  I wish I could thank him for that as it has allowed me live a nice life in retirement.  I want to tell you my appreciation for his thoughtfulness."

Comment by RC:  I can echo that statement, as so many of us can! McDonald's act in setting up Zenith's profit-sharing plan has also allowed  so many of us to "live a nice life in retirement. "

Howard's  letter continues:

"Recently, my wife and I  moved to San Diego to be near her daughters.  Of course I enjoy the weather here, which allows me to play tennis, ride my bikes and take nice walks in the nearby canyons almost every day.  I do miss an old fashioned thunderstorms that I used to see in Chicago.  We sure could use the rain here as I am sure you are aware."

 And here is Howard, obviously  enjoying his retirement--

Hiking in Elfin Canyon
Howard would like to hear from all of his fellow employees and friends! 

After I sent the Howard his bio for approval, he had an additional comment:  "I also do some consulting and design for some solar energy projects, as well as write ray-tracing software for special optical applications.  These challenges have kept my mind busy when not doing the outdoors activities." 

We all wish you a happy retirement, Howard!

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It's as slender as a human hair!

In Post 14 of this weblog, we reviewed the coaxial cable and its capacity for carrying signals. Here is an excerpt from Post 14--

There is was written  in Post 14:  "Through that slender copper wire, flows the millions of bits of information that comprises hundreds of television channels." That wire is about sixteenth of an inch in thickness.

In comparison, consider this latest breakthrough:  A single fiber-optic strand the diameter of a human hair (which is a diameter of about three thousandths of an inch) can carry 101.7 terabytes of data per second! 

What does this mean in signal-carrying capacity? Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix writing in Wired Magazine, tells about the capacity of that single, hair-like  strand:   ". . . enough to support nearly every Netflex subscriber watching content in HD (high definition) at the same time." And how many customers does Netflix have?  Google Search answers that question:  In January 2013, Netflix reported they had 29.4 million total streaming customers.

That's an almost inconceivable signal-carrying capacity!  Perhaps the discovery of that fiber optic capacity is  just another of Sir Isaac Newton's "pebbles" to be found on the shore of the great ocean of truth.
Now you may ask:  "What does that mean?  It is based on a statement made by  Sir Isaac Newton   at the close of his career:  ". . . I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." (A Wiki-Quotation)

Photo from Wikipedia
Can we say, with some satisfaction, that our engineers and scientists seem to be finding more and more of those "pebbles" (such as that hair-like filament signal-carrying capacity) on the seashore of that great ocean of truth?

Now,  to get back down to earth:  Do you recall those artificial "trees" formed by bundles of fiber optic strands arranged as branches?  Very pretty at Christmas time, and such a practical use of fiber optics!   But, at that period of time, we really didn't know what to do with those slender strands of glass! So we made pretty trees of them.
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Errata!   In the last post, it was written about Russ Miller's latest book, Death of a Spycatcher, that Russ traveled to more than 100 different companies, which gave him the world wide experience that led him to be a writer of spy novels.  The underlined word" companies"  should have read: "Russ had traveled to more that 100 different countries!

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During a discussion that included Robert Adler, someone  commented on the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas by saying:  "America is  transitioning from an industrial economy to a service economy."
     Bob replied:  
"We can't survive as a nation by taking in each other's laundry." 

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Announcement! This weblog is will present a biography of Zenith Radio's  founder and first president, Eugene F. Mcdonald, Jr.,  also  known as "The Commander."   The biography will be offered in installments, beginning in a forthcoming Post.
McDonald, from a portrait

The McDonald biography was written by McDonald's daughter, Marian McDonald, and McDonald's grand-daughter, Bridget Brigitte McDonald. Commander McDonald is notable for his creation of Zenith Radio Corporation (later, Zenith Electronics Corporation).  He is also esteemed for his creation of the Zenith profit-sharing plan, a plan  which has enriched the lives of his employees, and contributed so much their retirements.  So let's look forward to the first installment of the McDonald biography from  Marianne and Bridget Brigitte McDonald! 

Marianne McDonald

Bridget Briggette McDonald

(I Must get a clearer photo of Bridget! I copied this one from Facebook--a very small photo.) )

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So that is it for Post 18.  Post 19 will offer a list of the contents of the  18 previous Posts,  with a guide to accessing any of the 18 Posts  quickly and easily..  

And please note this! The breakfast reunions are no more, so this weblog could be  the last memorialization of our great and much-loved Zenith Radio Corporation. This weblog itself will come to an end early next year, and when that happens, Zenith will be lost to history as memories and people fade away.  UNLESS!--this weblog has enough readers to attract a publisher for a "Zenith Book."  Such a book would be a durable and lasting memorial to Zenith.  Right now, we have about 300 readers, mostly past employees, and while a gratifying number, it may not be enough to attract a publisher. 

So, spread the word! Please tell your friends the address of this weblog, which as you know as (else you wouldn't be reading this)  www.zenithbook.blogspot.com

--Ralph Clarke, "Journalist" (Sheesh!)

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