Metal Tubes Go To War


Now that the excitement of the eclipse has passed, we will resume our normal programming, focusing┬ámostly of the history of radio. We offer this advertisement from 75 years ago this month, showing the vacuum tube having gone off to war. But it’s not just any tube, it’s a Ken-Rad metal radio tube, made by the Ken-Rad Tube & Lamp Corporation of Owensboro, Kentucky, which assured that as soon as the war was over, metal tubes would be back for civilian customers.

Ken-Rad was founded in 1899 as the Kentucky Electrical Lamp Company. It was sold in 1918 and used to create the Kentucky Radio Corporation, later known as Ken-Rad. The company started making radio tubes in 1922, and also continued to make light bulbs. The company’s light bulbs were used to light the first Major League Baseball game played at night in 1935.

The lamp division was sold to Westinghouse in 1943. The tube division was sold to General Electric in 1945. The company’s building was torn down in 2007 and is now an Owensboro city park.

The ad appeared in the August 1942 issue of Radio Retailing.

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