Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Post 26

As was  noted in Post 25, after the  loss of Zenith’s Second War, the first priority was to supplement Zenith’s  television product with another winning product--perhaps two or three such  products.  Zenith  had several possibilities in the works in an attempt to diversify. The Zenith Watch Company was one.   Not much is known about this acquisition, except that it was believed that Zenith engineers could contribute to the “electrification” of the mechanical clock movement.  That the company  already had the name Zenith was a welcome coincidence.

(If you want to view the original Post 24, click on this date:  March 2015 (2). It will be  the second of the two posts listed)

It was requested in Post 24 that if one of our dear, devoted readers had more information on the Zenith Watch Company, to please let me know.  And sure enough, a reader did—a former Zenith employee whom I refer to as The Zenith Novelist as he is a very successful author of detective fiction. His name is Russell Miller, and he was the Senior Vice President  of the Zenith International Marketing  Division.
Russell R. Miller
 Here is what Russ  wrote:

“In your blog post No.24, you discuss the purchase of the Zenith Watch Company. I am very familiar with that issue, somewhat by accident rather than by design.

“Joe Wright had hired Jim Collier to be VP of strategic planning with the hope that Zenith would become a more “diversified” company--in response to the increased competitive pressure of the Japanese.  The purchase of the Swiss-owned Zenith Watch Company was the first attempt at diversification. The Swiss company had recently become a single entity as a result of the consolidation between the Movado Watch Company—very “high-end watches”--and the Mondia Company, which was a private label producer of inexpensive watches, and the Zenith Watch Company, which, as you say, held the ownership of the Zenith brand in Europe.

“In addition, there was a widely held belief in the Swiss watch industry that they would eventually go to the electronic watch and Zenith would have a contribution to make in this area. The watches were previously analog and the expectation was that they would eventually all become digital. 

“Shortly after the purchase, the president of the consolidated company died unexpectedly. Jim Collier was the only one at Zenith who had any knowledge of the company (although slight) resulting from the acquisition process. He was sent over to oversee the company. He was a talented individual but had very little operating experience. In addition the Swiss are a race among themselves, and resented an outsider to be put in charge of them.

“Colier had difficulty running the complex business with a unique product and a difficult market. In addition, one of the company's principal market areas was the Mideast. Once Zenith bought the company it was prohibited from selling in Arab countries because of its association with Israel. (The “Arab blacklist” is referred to in my book Death of a Spymaster.*)

“By this time, Joe Wright had hired John Nevin from Ford to be president of Zenith Electronics. John's philosophy was different from Joe's. He was diametrically opposed to diversification, and instead was in favor of “consolidation.” Wright had sold the FM station Zenith had owned for years. He also disliked the watch company which was, admittedly, a pain in the ass. The company had, with our technical assistance, designed an analog and a digital watch that was introduced to the market. (I still have one.)

“Nevin replaced Collier with the president of Ford's European truck division (whom I believe had recently lost his job at Ford). He was one rough cookie who was like sandpaper to the sophisticated Swiss. The company eventually came close to rioting and it was  necessary to replace "Mr. Truck," as he was known as in La Locle.* 

That was when Bowen, who then was overseer of the watch company as part of his Marketing Department, put in Chuck Sindelar to head up the watch company, and I took over the international department.”

*Le Locle is a municipality in the Le Locle district in the Canton of Nujchatel  in Switzerland, and a center of watch development and manufacture since the 16th Century. 

Now, does anyone else have more  information about the Zenith Watch Company?  I will try to track down Charles “Chuck” Sindelar, whom I used to car pool with, and see what he has to say. 
* To read a review of, and to buy a copy of Russ Miller's latest novel Death of a Spymaster, click on Amazon.com.
I have a copy, and it’s a real “good read” and unlike the sex-soaked stuff so common in today’s popular fiction.

* * * * * * *

The Zenith Paging System.  Installment 1.

One of the most promising of the products that could have helped Zenith survive is  the Zenith Paging System.  

A  paging system comprises little devices called “pagers” that carried in the pocket, and which  notify the carrier that a return call is required.  They may “beep” to notify the carrier, and so they are also called “beepers.” And they may also vibrate in the pocket*.  They are obviously predecessors to the cell phone, and you may even have carried one yourself.    

*An aside:  The existence of the "pocket vibrator" was classified TOP SECRET during World War II. The vibrators were radar set detectors carried by spies who searched neighborhoods for concealed radar sets.  When the detector vibrated, it meant a radar set was concealed nearby. The spy notified his spymaster, and an aircraft soon appeared carrying a Shrike missile, which was designed to follow the radar beam to its source. Instantly--no radar set.  Now the pocket vibrator  is no longer a secret--in addition to pagers, cell phones offer this facility.)  

Here is a typical pager, one from Motorola. Note the pocket clip—

And this is the Zenith pager—

At one time, Zenith had a firm contract to manufacture 100,000 of these pagers for the Canadian Bell Telephone company, with additional hundreds of thousands  promised.  What happened to the contract, and the fate of this promising system, will be told in a later one of the three installments of this Zenith Book weblog.  And the fascinating story of  how Zenith had wrested the Bell Canada paging system business from Motorola, will also be told.   

“Paging Systems?” you may ask.  “Aren’t pagers  obsolete-- a part of history.”   The answer is NO!  Pagers are still in use in spite of the universality of the cell phone. As recently  as 2008, the paging  systems were a $2 billion business in the United States, a dollar amount tapering off now  because of the cell phone. However in Canada, there are  more than 150,000 pager users, with more than $18 million in value. 

The primary users of pagers  are the “first responders” who react to emergencies -- volunteer fire fighters and the police, Very simply, pagers  will “work” when other services such as the telephone and the cell phone, and radio and television broadcasts may fail because of call overload or the collapse of the electrical grid. Other users are found in hospitals—especially doctors such as surgeons--who can’t be bothered  to answer a cellphone while they are busy saving a life, yet rely on the pager for message notification.  

You may  have even used a pager recently yourself in a restaurant such a Panera Breads. When your order is placed, you are handed a gizmo that buzzes when your order is ready for pick-up.  That’s a “pager” in its simplest form .

The project engineer for the Zenith paging system was Alfred “Al” Ditthardt, whom many of you will remember—

Al  is shown holding the Zenith pager.  In coming  installments, Al will tell the story of the Zenith paging system, and how Zenith engineers designed a paging system that Motorola engineers had declared to be "impossible.”   

So—look forward to Installment Two of the Zenith Paging System. 
 To read more about Pagers-- Wikipedia of course:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pager
also,Some  of the information in this first installment was derived from the publication  CBC News, Technology and Science. “The Beeper Isn’t Dead Yet.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/telus-may-be-closing-its-pager-network-but-the-beeper-isn-t-dead-yet-1.2929237   
                                                        * * * * * * * * 

Zenith Ventures Into Medical Electronics

As noted previously, Commander McDonald was outraged when he learned of the high cost of hearing aids, which he considered to be  little more than a tiny microphone along with a simple audio amplifier and speaker. He was also sympathetic about people with hearing deficiencies because he himself was deaf in one ear. So he set up a special  division of Zenith devoted to hearing aid research, and to the design and manufacture of hearing aids. The Zenith Hearing Aid Division was set up in a separate building known as “Plant 5.” The first Zenith hearing aids were priced at $40—far below the hundreds of dollars being charged at the time by other manufacturers. Zenith became so successful in the manufacture and sales of hearing aids that it achieved the No. 1 ranking in sales.
With the success of hearing aids as an incentive, Zenith decided to develop other  products classed as “medical electronics.” One was a device called a “defibrillator.” Let’s go to the invaluable Wikipedia for a definition of defibrillation and the defibrillator.

"Defibrillation is a common treatment for life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmias, ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. Defibrillation consists of delivering a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the heart with a device called a defibrillator. This depolarizes a critical mass of the heart muscle, terminates the dysrhythmia and allows normal sinus rhythm to be reestablished by the body's natural pacemaker, in the sinoatrial node of the heart. Defibrillators can be external, transvenous, or implanted (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator), depending on the type of device used or needed. 

"Some external units, known as automated external defibrillators (AEDs), automate the diagnosis of treatable rhythms." Meaning that lay responders or bystanders are able to use them successfully with relatively training.  

(Note: If you click on in of those underlined topics, you will get a detailed explanation of the topic. (Thank you, Wikipedia! You are irreplaceable!)

In short, due to some trauma, the heart “flutters,” or stops completely; either way, it fails to pump blood, and the victim will die unless the heart is started very soon. You may already be familiar with the defibrillator in action if you have watched one of the popular hospital shows on television. Here is the scenario--

The patient’s heart has stopped. Emergency! is blared over the hospital PA system. Cut to a scene where a doctor with two paddles in his hands is hovering over a supine patient.  With a warning to “stand clear,” he applies the paddles to the chest and presses a switch on each paddle.  The patient’s body arches upward, and hopefully, one discharge of electricity is all that is necessary, and the heart rhythm is restored. If not, the doctor tries again . . .  and again. If there is no response, there is no hope for the patient.

Sadly, an incidence of a heart fluttering, or actually stopping, is all too common, and is usually the result of a heart attack. Time is of the essence here—after deprivation of oxygenated blood for three minutes, brain cells begin to die. That is why defibrillators and their use--not just by doctors, but also everyone on with just a little training—has become common. Emergency ambulances usually have defibrillator equipment. In fact, you can buy your own defibrillator if someone in your family in imminent danger of a heart attack and fibrillation.  The portable units are termed the automated external defibrillator, or "AED."  Here is such a unit, the  Lifepak 12  (Click on the underlined  name to learn more about the Lifepak.) 

In fact, heart stoppages is so frequent, defibrillators are being made available, in areas where large crowds gather, such as  such as at sport stadia, corporate and government offices, shopping centers,airports, hotels school,  and community centers, and especially, fitness centers and health clubs. Training in the use of defibrillators is becoming almost as common as training in artificial respiration.

[Author's note:  Some fine day, I may learn how to make type in the Google blog all the same size. It varies from 9 point to 12 point at will, but not my will.

Below is a Japanese free-standing defibrillator unit , an "AED"--automatic external  defibrillator--made available in railway terminals, with railway personnel trained in its use. Because of their high-pressure life style, and the endless dedication to their professions, the Japanese in general experience a higher incidence of heart-related medical problems.
Based on its success of the hearing aid product line, Zenith management decided to enter the growing and lucrative field of medical electronics. The first such product was a Zenith Defibrillator, complete with power supply and paddles. I witnessed the prototype Zenith Defibrillator being demonstrated  by the defibrillator project engineer. (I forget his name--about which he is no doubt happy!) He placed the two paddles on his abdomen while explaining how the electrical charge would enter the chest, and either revive the heart that had stopped beating, or would stop its fluttering, and restore its normal rhythm.

After the demonstration, the engineer went a "little green around the gills" with the realization that he had noticed (almost too late!) that the defibrillator was fully charged, and if he had pressed those paddle switches, he could have been toast.

It may, or may not have been, this incident that caused it, but very soon after, Zenith cancelled not only the defibrillator project but all medical electronics activity. It must have been the realization that if there ever was a field loaded with legal liability, it was medical electronics. For example, if it worked too well (an over-voltage) and electrocuted the patient—product liability suit. And, if it failed to work at all—product liability suit! And there was that unforgettable Zenith logo plastered on the machine! 

The upshot was that  Zenith cancelled the medical electronics product line, and sold even the hearing aid line, although it is unlikely that a hearing aid would have killed anyone.  
                                                                       * * * * * * *        
Now, a bit of good news about a Zenith executive who, after leaving Zenith, became a Professor of Marketing and Management at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, and has been teaching  there for 13 years!    .                                
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill., Nov. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Legendary consumer electronics sales executive Gerald M. McCarthy has been inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.
Gerald M. McCarthy
This honor recognizes McCarthy's major industry contributions during his 30-plus-year career with Zenith Electronics Corporation – from leading the transformation of consumer electronics distribution to introducing some of the industry's most innovative products and his noteworthy role as an industry statesman. McCarthy, now a management professor at Dominican University, was the long-time President of the Zenith Sales Company.
Bestowed by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame was created in 2000 to honor the leaders in the consumer technology industry who have shaped and advanced innovation. With McCarthy's induction, individuals associated with Zenith and its parent company LG Electronics represent more industry pioneers in the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame than any other company. 
"Jerry McCarthy is being recognized for his steadfast leadership and commitment to innovation. He's among a select group of legendary consumer electronics sales executives who helped build the industry into what it is today," said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. "Jerry's induction into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame recognizes his many contributions during a particularly tumultuous period in the history of consumer electronics, as retailing evolved and innovations like home video recording and TV closed captioning came to the forefront."
McCarthy was instrumental in bringing to market some of the most impactful products at that time. As Zenith's head of sales and marketing, he played a key role in introducing innovations including the first stereo TVs, the first closed caption TVs, the first teletext TVs, the first TVs with electronic program guides and the first TVs with premium sound systems (Zenith with Sound by Bose). When VHS camcorders were big and bulky, he led the introduction of the compact VHS-C format and, to the surprise of many in the industry, brought it to market under the Zenith brand well before its inventor JVC.
McCarthy cut his teeth in the consumer electronics industry starting in 1965 in the order department at the Zenith Radio Corporation. Over the next several years, while moonlighting at the famous Chicago retailer Polk Bros (selling Zenith radios and TVs, and perhaps a few RCAs), he started to climb the corporate ladder, rung by rung.
He is the last of three generations of legendary Zenith sales executives, following in the footsteps of the late Len Truesdale and the late Walter Fisher, himself a CE Hall of Fame inductee. When he retired from Zenith in June 1996, McCarthy was Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. A former member of Zenith's Board of Directors, he served as President of the Zenith Sales Company for nearly half of his three-decade Zenith career. Today, he's a Marketing and  Management Professor at Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., and a consumer electronics management consultant.
                   (From PR Newswire   https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/ )

I asked Jerry whether he would mind if I published news of his award, and here is his response--


Feel free to use the notice but please acknowledge that the induction was made possible because of the efforts of great engineers, the Mel Boldt organization, an operations team that was excellent, sales and marketing colleagues that were truly professional and a distributor organization that was the best in the business.  

Best to you as well.

Jerry McCarthy"

It is just like Jerry to acknowledge the contribution of others to his accomplishments! 

You may have seen Jerry  at the Zenith Reunion where he often addressed the meetings. Here is Jerry as shown in the Carl Campisi video of the Tenth Reunion of the Zenith pioneers:   

--and here is a photo of the late Walter Fisher,  the President of Zenith Sales Company, as mentioned in the Hall of Fame Award to McCarthy--
Walter fisher
The role of marketing through distributors is described by Fisher in Post 3  of this weblog.  

(Sorry, I don’t have a photo of Len Truesdale; perhaps a reader can supply one.  Just email it to me at ducord@gmail.com.)
                                                              * * * * * * * * 
LG and Zenith Radio Corporation has carried on the Zenith tradition of research and development of new products.  Open--

                                                                 * * * * * * * 
 Two  Great Mysteries  

Mystery One:  Production engineers have a kind of a fellowship wherein  they visit each other’s factories and share production ideas.  Japanese production engineers visited Zenith factory one day and shared more than just ideas –they left  with a complete set of production plans for the Zenith Chromacolor picture tube.  Having these plans enabled the Japanese get into production of the Chromacolor tube a year and a half sooner, and thus to become competitive with Zenith that much sooner.  The cost to Zenith?—several million dollar$ in lost profit.  

Who was it at Zenith that was so generous?  No one knows—at least no one admitted to doing it. 

Mystery Two:  Zenith arranged with a Brazilian firm—Denison Electronic Company--to manufacture its radio and television sets. Under Joe Wright’s watch, Zenith made available to Denisonall its engineering, design and production facilities, and the know-how  to manufacture Zenith products.  Also,  a half-million square foot production factory was built.   Zenith must have invested a lot of money in this endeavor. And it all failed. No one knows why, and the author hopes to find out. 

Zenith is rumored to have lost a packet. And there is no sign today of a “Denison Electronic Company” in Brazil.  (Although there are sure a lot of Chinese manufacturers listed.) 

The Brazil experience t appears to be yet another Zenith “debacle.”  Another such  debacle  was the purchase of the Ford plant at Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and the converting of it to  a  picture tube manufacturing plant, with the loss of $64 million. (That  economic escapade  is  described in Post 12.) 

* * * * * * * 

 And there ends this Post 26.  In the next Post--Post 27--the Second Installment  of Al  Ditthardt's paging system story will appear,  and with more information about the Zenith Watch Company.  Also, more information about other products that Zenith management hoped would become sellers equal to that of television . . .  and the story of how Commander McDonald first promoted Zenith by becoming an arctic  explorer.  Of special note is the first installment of the story  "Zenith and the Information Age" as told by Walt Ciccora.                                                           

It will be necessary to skip the scheduled date of April 15 for  Post 27!
 The writer needs time to prepared his income tax, and to write some promotional material for the weblog and to lay plans for  the forthcoming book  about Zenith which is titled: 

A Requiem for Zenith:  The Rise and Fall of a Great American Company, and the Lessons To Be Learned From Its Fall.   

SO. . .  watch for the next Post--Post 27-- to arrive in your in-box on April 30!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Post 25

Announcement.  This will gladden the hearts of all dedicated   former employees of Zenith.  Our  Zenith Book weblog will become a published book! It may  be published by a main-line publisher, or as  an "Indie"-- and independently published book--whichever will reach the most readers. 
  In addition to being a history, or a "reminiscence," of a great American company, it will also be a teaching book--one that every businessman  will want to read.  The business  focus is indicated  by the proposed title, which will now appear as the lead-in to every Post-- 

   A Requiem for Zenith Radio:  Its Rise and Fall, and the Lessons to be 
Learned  From Its Fall

But this happy event will not take place for several months--and if the author lasts long enough to complete the task.  After all, 95 is not a date known for its longevity. But we are all "in God's hands," as Thomas Moore said, so let's look forward with trust and see what  comes to pass.

--now let's see what's in this what's in this Post 25.  
                                                          * * * * * * * *

(Um . . . excelsior  doesn't only  mean  that stringy wood stuff  used for packing boxes, , but more correctly--FORWARD . . . ONWARD to Excellence!

AND that it what Zenith meant to do after the loss of its Second War--go forward, and on to excellence!

It was to going be tough going. Zenith's prime product--television--had been largely subsumed by the Japanese who, for more than 20 years to come, would persist in "low-balling" television prices. ( Of course, they were also busy trying to take over such  American industries as the  the automobile, steel, textiles, etc., apparently with the approbation of the "one-worlders." (Please excuse the writer if he sounds bitter for he is, for after all,  it is Philip Curtis's opinion--and the author's--that  the Japanese had destroyed Zenith, and did it with the active  help of the U.S. Government.)  

Sorry . . . back to the story of Zenith.

What did Zenith need to so to succeed in the future--to actually  stay in business?   What  products did it have that could be exploited?   The radio market was out because it had already been taken over by the Japanese. 

First off,   it was imperative that Zenith  develop landmark improvements in the television technology--improvements so outstanding that  Zenith television products would become  a "must have," and exclusive to Zenith.. . .  products so outstanding that the American public  would find them irresistible. Zenith had made such break-throughs  in the past-- the remote control and the Chromacolor picture tube are just two examples  If Zenith  could only find others of their caliber . . . .

 Secondly, develop new and existing products that are sure sellers,  and many of them!  

What's on the horizon?   Let's make a list--

A watch company. Purchase it, and one already  already named "Zenith." (Already reported on in the previous Post 24.  And more to come!

 Medical Electronics.  Zenith was already No. 1 in hearing aids. It is a rational  step to acquire and/or develop  related  products.  

Cable Modems.  Pay-for-view television was fast becoming a reality. (Unhappily, not the Commander's Phonevision(R)  system!) 

Production of Large Screen Television sets.  That is, screen sizes greater than 30 inches. 

Computers -- develop a computer-based Zenith data system. Viz.,  Zenith computers for the use of individuals and  businesses.

Promote Zenith's Stereophonic Broadcasting system: The MTS Stereo system

Promote high definition televisions, both their  concept and their manufacture.

Promote a 64-inch  rear-projection television system. 

And, from the Government and  Special Products Division--
  Militarization of Zenith commercial products such as the TransOceanic and base station transceivers . . .a paging system . . .  the Uniscope light amplifier" . . . .  proximity fuzes and safe-and-arming mechanisms. . .  and, generally, the  acquisition of  lucrative government contracts
(This Division was described in Post 13.)

Succeeding Posts of this Zenith Book Weblog will cover all these and others, with your help!
So HELP! HELP! Russ Miller has promised to write further on the Zenith Watch company, and if you do the same in your area of expertise, it will be so helpful.  And your name might even be listed as a contributor in the forthcoming book! (Gee, whiz!) 

                                                           * * * * * * * *  
                                                   My Dear Old Radio!               

Do you recall an old Zenith radio set that you  loved and wished you still had?  Here is the author’s such radio set,  and it is  long in my memory.  It is a Zenith, of course, one that sat nicely on a table or shelf and played beautiful music—music from the Commander’s radio station WEFM, of course. The set is the  Model X334, a vacuum-tube radio that dates back to 1959. The physical design was probably by Mel Boldt*, Zenith’s long-time  designer of its radios, remote controls, video recorders, and related products.  After about ten years, the radio  began to fail, and I was told that vacuum tube sets are not repairable because the tube sockets lose their springiness, and thus lose the  electrical interconnections.  

So with much sorrow,  I discarded the set,   Since then, I have learned that there are ways to restore the tube-socket interconnections, and am now on a search for another Model X334. I will let you know of my luck I finding one.

 Perhaps there is an engineer among the readership who remembers working on the electrical design of the set. If so, please come forward and tell your story,

*More about Mel Boldt: 
Melvin A. Boldt
Many of you may remember Mel—he was a constant visitor to Zenith.  He headed his own firm,  Mel Boldt Associates, and more than a dozen designers worked for him.  He and his firm designed the prize of them all-- the fabled Trans-Oceanic.  Zenith Radio Corporation owes much of its early success to Mel’s designs.
                                                            * * * * * * * * 

Now let’s Take a look into the Zenith’s past in the video media! That  is where Zenith lives on, and where Zenith  seems almost immortal.  —There are lots of sources, much of it on YouTube.  Try some of these addresses. (Or, calling them by their  actual  designation, “URL’s”)--

 The Rise and Fall of ZRC.  Slide show.

This well-made film shows scenes from the Zenith: people you may know, or have known.  Also, buildings, assembly lines, parking lots, skyline scenes--are all shown.   The saddest are the views of old Plant 1 on 6001 West Dickens Avenue, in Chicago,  once so busy, and now so deserted. The film is followed by the story of radio manufacturer, Philco.  The film creator is:  “drh4683”. (Good job, drh!)    

David Sarnoff talks about color television.

As told in the Zenith Book weblog, Philip Curtis considered David Sarnoff to be the nemesis of Zenith and of the entire consumer products industry. Philip Curtis wrote to describe him (to quote*) . . .brilliant and ruthless; . . . one of America’s most notorious industrialists; . . . vindictive; . . . afflicted with a compulsive habit of concocting myths himself;cunning, intensely ambitious; . . grand style of personal aggrandizement, etc etc.*

*These are quoted excerpts from the Philip Curtis book The Fall of the American Consumer Products Industry, An American Trade Tragedy

The story of a pioneer television inventor --a history of Philo T. Farnsworth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKPTrq1s_BQ
This is a long, windy film but it finally gets to the point. And what a wonderful name for a TV pioneer ”— “Philo T. Farnsworth.” It’s got a “ring” to it. And Farnsworth wasn’t really a scientist, but a simple farm boy who got the idea for scanning a picture on a cathode ray tube faceplate when he noted the side-by-side furrows his plow made. “Now. . . “ he thought, “ if you could just impress picture information on those “furrows”. . . (that is, those scanned lines of light-emitting phosphor ) . . . . The rest is history.

Zenith on YouTube. There is a “wealth" of Zenith on YouTube. https://www.yout be.com/results?search_query=Zenith+Radio+Corporation

Zenith Trans-Oceanic on YouTube
Zenith R7000 Transoceanic Shortwave Radio - YouTube
▶ 3:06www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYOtz0dyzng
The radio shown will make you green with envy!! It appears to be a Model 7000-2 (1981. It is superb example of the most recent TransOceanic, and is probably the last of the line of he
Transoceanics. What a conversation piece it would make if it were sitting in a place of honor in your living room.

(I had a TransOceanic, circa 1942. --a  Zenith model No. 6G601M. It was covered with what appeared to be cowhide. I wish I still had it, but long ago I took it apart for radio parts.)

Here is a TransOceanic shown somewhere in India, one riding a camel--

TransOceanics were famous and in use worldwide. Here an explorer named Fullenwinder with a TransOceanic.. (He was no doubt a friend of the Commander, who seemed to know everybody.)   

                                                            * * * * * * * * 
Antique Radio Renovation and Repair
It is a popular activity—finding antique Zenith’s and repairing and reconditioning them to appear and play like new. You may be want to try it  yourself. A service that will tell you how to do it is offered on a website titled “Phil’s Old Radios.”  Just click on this address:    http://antiqueradio.org/howfix.htm  and the following image will appear--

                                              ©1995-2015 Philip I. Nelson, all rights reserved    

The instructions go on to ask and answer a series of questions-- Where can I find someone to fix my radio? . . . Is there a book that I can read?-- etc.

 However, unless you have actually designed and worked on radio sets, such as a Zenith engineer would have done, you are tackling a formidable task in both in learning and applying your skills. 

Best get it repaired.  There are a lot of those who do it.  Just click on this link—

Better Yet! If you cherish antique radios, why not join a club of your fellows?  If you live in Illinois, join the Antique Radio Club of Illinois. The club consists of a nationwide group of 400 radio aficionados dedicated to the preservation of antique radios and related items.  www.antique-radios.org  Zenith radios are there, of course. Below is a photo taken at a recent radio club swap meet--                                 
How did that clock get in there?
Antique radio clubs are located all over the country.  One in California—called the Southern California Antique Radio Society, or SCARS, is an example.  Click on this URL:  www.antiqueradio.org to see what they offer the potential antique radio collector. (Note to Howard Lange, who moved to California:  Howard, here is a hobby for your retirement years--when you are not hiking canyons!)

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Now, more about the “Phil” of Phil’s Old Radios. His full name is Philip Nelson. His “Welcome page” address is http://www.antiqueradio.org/welcome.htm
Philip Nelson
 When you open his welcome page, you will see a list of subjects to click on.  As you successively review them you see a number of subjects and exhibits--a large gallery of vintage radios;  how to restore radios for beginners; information for radio  lovers, especially beginners.  In features, special articles are shown, such as the U.S. patent drawing for a TransOceanic radio set. It was created by Robert Budlong of Zenith who designed many of Zenith's radios. 

Now, view the repair of one of Zenith’s first television sets as guided by Phil.  Click on http://www.antiqueradio.org/welcome.htm, select “Sitemap”   and scroll way, way down a long list of all the radios and televisions Phil has repaired through the years. There you will find the following description—

Zenith Model T1816R Television (1955)--

Phil wrote:  “People either love or hate the design of this classic 1950's black and white television. I belong to the 'love it' camp. With rounded, futuristic lines and cat's-eye shaped knobs on either side of the screen, it reminds me of a robot or space alien.”

Made in 1955, this large metal-cased TV was designed to sit on a table or a stand. The cabinet is dark maroon with a contrasting silver bezel and gold accents in the knobs. The Zenith name appears in raised letters at the top of the bezel, and there is a small gold metal Zenith logo on the control panel at the top.

 Phil wrote: “It has a sixteen-inch screen and it seems to weigh about sixteen tons! I purchased this set for $35 in January, 1998.”

Phil goes on to describe in great detail how he repaired it and made it play again.

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It is noted that Model T1816R shown previously was not Zenith’s first television set.  There was a much earlier one—an experimental model,  featured in an earlier Post of this Weblog—Post 7.  The original  story below was copied from the Zenith Magazine, Zenith ServiceWorld,  published in 1974.

 Here is Brian Mahronic, National Service Manager, with an experimental model built in 1939. "Bronc"--as he was widely called--and his family watched it for several years before replacing it with one of Zenith's first production models. Then the set was banished to the basement.
   The only television station in Chicago at the time was W9XCV, an experimental station built, of course, by Zenith--another one of Zenith's famous "firsts."
   Mario Bertucci of the Zenith cabinet shop did the refinishing. The cabinet is a beauty of blond oak, with a hand-rubbed finish. Even today, it would be a credit to any living room.
   Because the early picture tubes were so long, it was necessary to mount the tube vertically and project the image on a mirror mounted on the inside of the slanting lid.

Bronc and Henry Duncan, one of Joe Smith's electronic repair wizards, made it play again. It wasn't difficult--the tuner was cleaned, the electrolytic capacitors, which the years had dried out, were replaced, and a few adjustments were made. The radio also plays again, and plays with the surprising sound of a Zenith.

The power supply was a hazard during the repair --it was a "brute force" power supply in which  in the high voltage was built up in stages, with an amperage high enough to "melt your fillings" if you got in the way of it. Later television tubes used a much higher voltage of 30,000, but it was more like a static charge that would give you a tingle--but your fillings were safe.

 It plays again!
 Here is a photo of the mirrored image as the set received Channel 2.

The monochrome picture tubes of Zenith's 1974 12-inch models are 25 times as bright. Yet the old set still provides a viewable picture. It happened by chance that, while the image was being photographed, a Clark Gable movie was being shown. Do you recall "It Started in Naples," starring Clark Gable and Sophia Loren?
(Note:  We must wonder where that set is now, and whether it is still operating.  After all, the article above was  published in Zenith Serviceworld magazine in 1974, 41 years ago! If found, it would be worth a pile$.) 
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Two women were talking (overheard by the author!) while wading in the warm-water pool of the Gottlieb Hospital Health Center, located on the west side of Chicago.
One woman asked: “Do you remember the Zenith ‘porthole’ television set—the one with the round picture window?”.
“Yes,” the other answered. “It was the television set of ‘Mr. Zenith’–Commander McDonald.”                                                                 
"Mr. Zenith"!
The two were recalling Commander Eugene F. McDonald, Jr., the founders and long-time President of Zenith Radio Corporation, and widely-known as "Mr. Zenith." And they were speaking about a Zenith television set that had  appeared on the market 30 years before that conversation in the warm water swimming pool! 

 Such was the legend of Commander McDonald and Zenith in Chicago!

 About that porthole television set--It all came about because Commander McDonald took a personal and intense interest in every aspect of a Zenith manufactured item before it left the factory.Every Zenith product had to meet the credo The Quality Goes in Before the Name Goes On! So McDonald examined  every television set before it went into production. One day, he was shown the latest model, one however without the escutcheon—that rectangular metal plate that encloses the face of the picture tube and defines the televised image. The escutcheon was not  ready, but McDonald insisted on seeing the set anyway. So he was shown a cabinet from which projected a round picture tube—but no picture-outlining escutcheon.

   He loved it! Perhaps it recalled his days as a Naval Commander and the times he spent at sea peering out of portholes. And that television set went into production and on the market, and had a successful sales run. This despite the fact that the transmitted picture was not round, but rectangular! The American public loved it anyway because it was a Zenith!

The Porthole TV, with Jack Benny  (YouTube) 
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The Philanthropy of Eugene Francis McDonald, Jr.

Despite his often rough  speech  and the  stern actions  made necessary by his role as the chief executive,  McDonald had a kind heart.  Five examples come to mind. First, he was outraged when he learned of the high cost of hearing aids, which he considered were little more than a tiny microphone along with a simple audio amplifier and a speaker.  He was also sympathetic about people because, according to his daughter Marianne (below), he became deaf in one ear when a car he was repairing blew up next to him. So he set up a separate division of Zenith devoted to hearing aid research, and to  the design and manufacture of hearing aids. The Hearing Aid Division was set up in a separate building known as “Plant 5.”  The first Zenith hearing aids were priced at $40—far below the hundreds of dollars being charged at the time by other manufacturers. Zenith became so successful  in the sales of hearing aids that it achieved the No. 1 ranking in hearing aid sales
Marianne McDonald 
 A second example of McDonald’s philanthropy is shown by his concern for his women employees. Upon learning that he had cancer of the throat (perhaps due to excessive smoking), he did as he always did when confronted with a problem--he studied the disease. He learned that there was also a common type of cancer that affected only women. It is  called uterine cancer, and that it was curable if detected early. He immediately made its detection and treatment available to all Zenith woman employees at no cost to them. Many lives were saved.

The third was his concern for Ebony Magazine, a publication dedicated to the interests of the large African-American population in Chicago, which McDonald  believed  ought to have its own “voice” in the community. McDonald’s opinion was based upon the treatment of the early Irish who  emigrated to the United States,  a treatment typified by the signs “No Irish need apply,” that confronted Irish job seekers.  McDonald  also had an African-American friend, Matthew Henson, a fellow explorer who had accompanied McDonald on his expedition to the Arctic.  He learned that the organizers  of Ebony Magazine was struggling to find the start-up money to begin publication, so McDonald helped fund  the publication of the first issues. 

The fourth example is, of course, McDonald’s setting up the Zenith profit-sharing plan for his employees.  It was perhaps the most generous of such plans ever conceived and put into practice.  McDonald believed that his employees should share in any profit, for after all, it was their work  that  made that profit  possible.     During the Great Depression  of 1929-1940, and knowing that  Zenith was struggling to stay afloat,  many employees showed their dedication to Zenith by voluntarily reducing or refusing their salaries. When Zenith began to recover,  McDonald repaid them, and showed his appreciation by sharing the dividend normally meant for the stockholders—with the employees.  (Was there ever another such a company to do this in all of American’s history?)

An early  pioneer employee of Zenith—Gene Polley—said that the original profit sharing would be as much as  10 to 15 percent of salary  When John Nevin took control as President and Chief Operating Officer,  he reduced the profit-sharing amount to between 4 and 8 per cent, with  the share dependent on Zenith’s profit.  From that time on, it never exceeded 4 per cent, as Zenith’s “days of clover” when it could pay more,  were over.  Yet whatever the amount, Zenith never failed to pay profit sharing, even during  the last days of approaching bankruptcy.

We former employees all acknowledge what the profit-sharing plan has meant to us—for most, a well-funded retirement.    To those who were laid off because of hard times for Zenith, it meant money to “ tide them over”  until they could find  another job. (Such hard times  time will be soon described in forthcoming Posts.)

The fifth example of a philanthropic act is a surprising one—the recipient  was United States government! After the war ended, McDonald calculated that Zenith had made too much profit from its defense contracts,  and refunded monies he thought were unfairly earned.

(The procurement agencies  thought this was a great idea—the return of “excess” profits on contracts with the government. So from then on, it was a clause written into major defense contracts  In all fairness, procurement agencies have often “forgiven” contractors who failed to meet their contractual obligations.  Rather than penalizing the errant contractor, the agencies would settle for accepting whatever the contractor had produced, and would inflict no penalties.  This happened to Zenith’s Government and Special Products Division, which, on two occasions,  failed to produce equipment that met contractual requirements.)

So let us all pay tribute to Eugene Frances McDonald, Jr. –our benefactor!
Eugene Francis McDonald, Jr.
This was his last portrait. He was soon to die from throat cancer. Marianne wrote me to relate that, on the night before he died, he had a milkshake with a shot of brandy in it—all that he could ingest for several days. 

If only had lived a few more years, perhaps he could have set Zenith on a firmer path to a longer existence as an independent company.

We  will not see his like again.  And his passing was a loss from which Zenith could never recover. 

Requiescat in pace.
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 And so ends Post 25, and a fitting end it is. 

Next time, we'll look at some of those "hopefuls" described earlier in this Post, and by which Zenith might survive.  

Please keep your comments coming--they are greatly encouraging to someone who is doing a very difficult job, in which each word written often seems like drawing a drop of blood.  (Sob!)   




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