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fernando_g 18th November 2007 06:05 PM

What vintage tube books do you own?
What vintage tube books do you own?

By "vintage" I mean books that were written in the tube's glory days...from the mid 1920s to the1960s. They can be modern reprints, but written back then.

I own a few, sadly, very few:

Fundamentals of Vacuum tubes, 3rd ed. by A. Eastman, McGraw-Hill 1949. Excellent book that starts with the Edison effect, continues with the construction of the tube itself, discusses high-vacuum and gas-filled tubes, photoelectric and cathode ray tubes. Then it discusses applications: rectifiers, controlled rectifiers, audio amps, RF amps, oscillators, modulators and demodulators. A real jewel!

Radio Engineering, 3rd ed. by F. Terman, McGraw-Hill 1947. Another excellent book, but as it name implies, focuses heavily in the tube's roles in Radio. Most of the book however, deals with antennas, wave propagation, Radar, radio beacons and such. The most valuable chapter is a short one on Television, mostly because it discusses what must have been a cutting edge technology back then.

Receiving Tube Manual by RCA Corp, 1969. This is an Argentinian edition by Editorial Arbo. No need to introduce this one, every engineer worth its salt back then would own one, or a similar book by GE, Sylvania, Mullard, Telefunken, etc.

Honorary mention: Audio Cyclopedia, 2nd ed. by H. Tremaine. H.W. Sams 1969. Although not strictly a tube book, as there are many transistorized circuits and even a hybrid IC, the book's 25 chapters describe all aspects of the state of audio back then, including disc, magnetic and optical recording. What I find fascinating about this book is its presentation of both state-of-the-art and old legacy equipment. It is surprising how some modern technology (i.e. synchronously-rectified switchmode power supplies) have been around for a while, although reed-vibrators were employed instead of Mosfets.

EC8010 18th November 2007 06:51 PM

I have most of the standard/expected texts, but this one is a bit unusual and may have slipped below the audio radar up until now:

"Signal, noise and resolution in nuclear counter amplifiers" A B Gillespie. Pergamon (1953)

Don't be put off by the title - there's some really good stuff in there about noise that's directly applicable to audio.

korneluk 18th November 2007 06:51 PM

For tube knowledge, be sure to visit Pete Millet's technical books online:

-- josť k.

Merlinb 19th November 2007 05:49 PM

I think my library is expanding nicely. Plus I've read them all cover to cover!

Elements of Radio. 1952
Foundations of Wireless, 7th ed. 1958,
Fundamentals of Radio-Valve Technique. 1949.
Getting the Most out of Vacuum Tubes, 1960
Handbook of Wireless Telegraphy, Vol I/II. 1938
High Frequency Thermionic Tubes. 1943
Low Frequency Amplification. 1953
The Oxide Coated Cthode, Vol II. 1951
Practical Wireless Encyclopaedia, 13th ed. 1954
Radiotron Designer's Handbook, 4th ed.
Radio Designer's Handbook, 3rd ed.
Radio Engineering, 2nd ed. 1937.
Radio Handbook, 13th ed. 1951
Special Purpose Amplifiers and Oscillators. 1952
Thermionic Valve Circuits, 2nd ed. 1947

fernando_g 19th November 2007 11:04 PM

Merlinb: Congratulations on your tube library. You've got it made!

I know this is a difficult question, but which one is your favorite?
Would you describe why?

Merlinb 20th November 2007 10:57 AM

I suppose my favourite is "Low frequency amplification". But each book has certain subjects that it does better than others. "Radio Engineering" is very good on some more obscure aspects of component choice. RDH4 has excellent treatment of tone circuits, and always jogs a few ideas in my imagination, but it's not something you can "read" very easily!
"Thermionic valve circuits" is excellent for digestible equation derivations, and a nice quick reference. (A good choice for a newbie I'd say).
And "Getting the Most out of Vacuum Tubes" is an absolute MUST READ for anyone who thinks that valves are fragile little flowers, and who obsess over the myth of standby switches...

SY 20th November 2007 11:26 AM

Besides the usual classics (Terman, Reich, Langford-Smith, Landee, Seely, Millman, Tomer...), I am the proud owner of a dilapidated "Understanding Hifi Circuits," by Norman Crowhurst. It's not a text, but it's a terrific survey of most of the circuits used in tube audio. And the fabulous RCA "Electron Tube Design."

(tip o' the hat to jlsem, from whom I scored a very nice library)

korneluk 20th November 2007 11:54 AM


Originally posted by SY
Besides the usual classics (Terman, Reich, Langford-Smith, Landee, Seely, Millman, Tomer...), I am the proud owner of a dilapidated "Understanding Hifi Circuits," by Norman Crowhurst.
I know it is a little harder to come by, but I am surprised that no one has mentioned another classic "Vacuum Tube Amplifiers" by George E. Valley Jr. & Henry Wallman.

-- josť k.

fernando_g 20th November 2007 02:40 PM


Originally posted by SY
Besides the usual classics (Terman, Reich, Langford-Smith, Landee, Seely, Millman, Tomer...),
Have never read it myself, but I hear plenty of anectdotal evidence that the Langford-Smith is an excellent book. Why is it so?

SY 20th November 2007 02:44 PM

L-S is very comprehensive, but also very terse. It is footnoted extensively so that one can use it as sort of an index to and review of the important primary literature. It's not a book I'd use for teaching, but it is a definitive reference book.

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