What do you all think to Stephen King, some interesting horror books to be sure which all gel into a form of one-ness after a while but still enjoyable none the less.  To my mind, his early works published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman are his best works.    

I do know that Stephen's output dipped a little after a horrific accident where he was struck down by a hit and run driver but he still writes.... and to think he has even written a poem for Mullard Magic - at least I think its him, yes, The Stephen King, a customer who has purchased a vibrator for a car valve radio - could it possibly be for for Christine?   And he's written a poem and sent it here all the way from Florida.   Oho, I hear you say, but SK lives at Portland, Maine, quite so but he also has his winter mansion in Sarasota.     Tell you, I'm sure it's him you know, anyhow, here's the poem: -

Tesla perfected induction,

Marconi designed the contraption.

Hertz smiled with glee

as Morse tapped his key,

and wireless went into production….




The Drake once said to the Swan-

‘’Your time in this shack is not long,

Your dial lights are dim

Your cans need a trim



In 1966, Eero Aarnio’s futuristic Ball Chair made regular appearances on the ITC television series The Prisoner as Number Two’s seat. This design icon is believed to have been the inspiration for the Keracolor television range introduced in 1970.


The Keracolor brand was the brainchild of Arthur Bracegirdle, a designer and businessman who in conjunction with a talented television engineer in the form of Howard Taylor, managed to come up with a commercially viable design that married the Decca 10 series chassis along with a Mullard colour into a futuristically spherical shaped cabinet.

The choice of the name Keracolor is interesting on two counts, the first being that the wording ‘color’ – neither of the inventors were either American or unable to spell for the “U” in KERACOLOR was left out for aesthetic reasons – in order for the brand name to look symmetrical when displayed adjacent to other controls on the side of the set; and secondly, the aetiology of the name which is derived from the Greek keraunos - meaning “thunderbolt”.  The Keracolor brand was at the time described as being “synonymous in the television industry with the very latest and most modern and up-to-date design concept in the world.”

Although I have never bought a Keracolour TV, I did buy a car from the Arthur's son Graham when he was working at a swanky Italian sportscar dealership in rural Cheshire.

Many people remember Keracolor sets fondly and this Cotswolds’ chap has immortalized these striking sets with a rather impressive garden topiary.  




There has been much discussion over the merits and dangers in running up valves using precious valve testers rather than the safer option of using a powered rig for this purpose.   I have delved into the Mullard document archive today and came up with the photo below which shows Willeke Fokkink in 1955 at Philips Herleen attending to one of the giant valve ageing racks - simply super stuff indeed.




Well, this weekend, there has been a run on Mullard Mustard capacitors, or in old money - the C296 range.  So for your delectation, please find below a photograph of the the Philips designed. Mullard machine that made the mustard caps - enjoy!




I just LOVE this piece of artwork which comes from a 1950s pulp novel and is titled "The Committee."     I smiled when I first saw it and it put me in mind of some self aggrandising buffoons who comprise the committee of an organisation I once belonged to - before they expelled me.  There are some true 'Richard Cranium's' about in real life not just pulp fiction



Thought you might be interested to see a triplet of Racal RA17 in the latest incarnation in film of Le Carre's seminal spy novel.  As John Hurt and Gary Oldman stride out you can just see the lady operator turn to them as if about to say "Please Sir, my Edward Turner S meter has gone O/C."  If you have problems with your RA17 then why not give my pal Ian at 'chav free zone' a call?




Today's stroll through the Mullard company's document archive threw up this rather fetching photograph which was attached to a memo from Philips BV in 1954, advising Mullard Blackburn of how operators were trained about valve componentry and assembly at Philips Heerlen.  They advocated the use of  a LARGE training aid because apparently, girls tend to be impressed by large things and the training association sticks..   

Who said it's not the size that matters but how you use it?



Isn't this exciting, this is an 'Atomic Suit' developed by GE for use at the Richland Washington Atomic plant in the US.  GE, unlike Mullard, had it's fingers in many manufacturing pies and this is just one of their other interests.    This suit was meant to protect the wearer from the effects of nuclear radiation, however, the suit potentially could have other uses.

Cue entry of the stern faced Sister Annette of the nearby Hanford based Pendlebury-McCarthy School for Girls.   As pastoral care nun and basketball coach, she was there to ensure that no impropiety occurred when the lower half of the suit was fitted to the model and of course to assess the efficacy of the lower suit area as a potential aide to modesty and chastity  if worn by some of her more high spirited charges.





Today's dip into the Mullard factory archives has come up with this photo of a suited gentleman testing valves using a Mullard High Speed Valve Tester (MHSVT).   How many people wear a suit whilst valve testing  - I wear a string vest and a lime green thong whilst testing our wares -  however, I digress.  The formal attire should give a clue for this is the MHSVT in the main transmitting room at BBC Alexandra Palace some time in 1953.  

I think this photograph was taken during valve maintenence testing undertaken immediately prior to filming an episode of Jigsaw  where a young art student from Perth, Australia, got an audition drawing cartoons  - "Can you tell what it is yet, little girl.........?." said the art student.   "Is that an 813 in your pocket or just a small digeridoo?"  innocently trilled the pigtailled young lady.  

Altogether, the BBC had 17 of these instruments, indeed, the fourth one off the production line of the first production run was bought by the BBC for use at Lime Grove studios where it was used for peridoic testing of a stock of 12000 valves.


A pal of mine, knowing I am a chemist decided to bring me this photograph from his time at Mullard Semiconductors - he thought the Dreschel bottles in the background would float my boat but in actuality it's the process being undertaken that piqued my interest.  My pal told me that this was an Orgone Accumulator - silly boy - but we know different!!

What we have here is a photograph taken in 1955 at the Mullard semiconductor materials laboratory with a Process Engineer purifying an ingot of Germanium for semiconductor manufacturing by a process known as Zone Refining, an elegant method which depends on  the concentration of impurity solutes in the liquid phase due to a low partition coefficient.  

And here's how it works: -

A germanium ingot is placed in graphite container called a boat which in turn is placed inside a silica tube under an argon or nitrogen atmosphere.  A molten zone is created in the ingot by passing it through an RF heated zone which raises a portion of the ingot to 932oC which melted the germanium and as the solubility of any impurities is higher in the liquid than the solid phase, the impurities tend to concentrate in the molten zone which gradually moves down the ingot, taking the majority of the impurities with it until they are eventually concentrated at one end of the ingot.  

The impure end is 'lopped off' and the process successively repeated until a 99.995% pure germanium ingot remains.   The process was quite slow with transit of the ingot progressing at 1cm/hour so purification could take some time.  This photograph was taken only 5 years after this process was originally invented by Dr. W Phann at Bell Laboratories in the 'States.  The process is still in use today with silicon for chip wafers being refined in the same way, however, the process has been refined (sic) over the years to be much faster as a continuous process with new material being added as the impure bit is removed rather than the slower batch process you see here.

Interestingly enough, a similar process known as Zone Remelting was used to put impurities back in to the germanium ingot with a high degree of homogeneity to 'dope' it with antimony and/or arsenic to inbue negative, n-type semiconduction or conversely aluminium and/or boron to imbue positive, p-type semiconduction.