Television History - The First 75 Years
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Small (Micro) TV Sets

In the mid-to-late 1960s and through the 1980s it seemed as if there was sort of an informal battle between manufacturers to see who could make the smallest television set.  I'm sure someone could write a book on this subject alone.  Although my main interest is prewar television, I have managed to pick-up a few interesting examples of these early micro-TVs.  Sony provided the largest (and somewhat continuous) selection of these micro sets.  There are many models, and just a few will be shown here.  If Sony collectors would like to have additional examples of their sets posted, please contact me!

The First Transistorized TV Set - 1959

1959 PHILCO SAFARI H2010L.JPG (30848 bytes) (31K)    
1959 Philco Safari - Model H2010L - 2" Projection TV - AC-DC - With Hood Closed - Tan Leather Case (Black available also)

1959 PHILCO SAFARI Operating.JPG (16989 bytes) (17K)
The set above, operating -- but don't ask what was being displayed - it was a news broadcast.

1959 Nov Elec-Illustrated SAFARI Review.JPG (98440 bytes) (98K)
November 1959 - Electronics Illustrated - Has cover article about the Philco Safari set

1959 Nov Elec-Illustrated SAFARI p34.JPG (86587 bytes) (87K)
Facts and Figures - 15 lbs. - 21 Transistors - $250.00

1960 Philco SAFARI Ad  (120K bytes) (120K)
Safari Ad - From a 1960 Canadian magazine;  Cost: $399.95 (Canadian dollars not US)

It all begins with this Philco set.  Its dimensions are actually quite large:  8" wide x 15" tall x 5-1/2" deep, but the race to build smaller and smaller sets was on!

RCA and GE had displayed laboratory models of transistorized TV sets in 1956 and 1958, respectively, but Philco beat everyone in the world to the punch by introducing the Safari model in late 1959.  They even beat Sony to market, who were planning a release of their set shortly. 

The unique design of this set (to conserve battery power) was the ingenious method of using a small 2" vertically mounted picture tube, which reflected the television image at a 45 degree angle off a concave mirror!  At the optimum viewing distance of precisely 4 and 1/2 feet, you had what appeared to be the same size image given by a 14 inch picture tube!  

There was one serious drawback,  --- This system required a VERY narrow viewing angle.  If you were off by a few degrees, the picture would be cut-off easily.  The consequence?  A stiff neck after a very short viewing time!  However, it was transistorized -- battery powered -- and portable -- all amazing features in 1959.

SONY's First Set in America

1961 Sony 8-301W Front.JPG (20053 bytes) (20K)
1961 Sony 8-301W -- 8" Transistorized -- AC-DC -- $249.95 New

1961 Sony 8-301W Side.JPG (24170 bytes) (24K)
8-301W Side View -- (Note: The chrome accent bar is missing on this unit.)

1961 Sony 8-301W Rear.JPG (59408 bytes) (59K)
8-301W -- Rear Panel View -- 23 Transistors -- (2) 6 volt batteries for power supply -- 13 lbs.

1961 Sony 8-301 AD.JPG (24162 bytes) (24K)
Sony Advertisement

When Sony introduced this set, it was the beginning of a long series of product launches in the United States.  This model performed flawlessly, and Sony began to gain respect and earned a reputation for quality in electronics.  

1963 RCA Transistorized Prototype

1963 May -  Mechanix Illustrated Cover  (50K bytes) (50K)

1963 RCA Prototype Mini-TV  (62K bytes) (62K)
This incredible hand-held miniature television was never produced commercially, but sure was a sign of the things to come in the future!  The article states the circuitry is completed, but the flat picture tube is under development.

1963 Mechanix Illustrated - Page 57  (52K bytes) (52K)
A reference to a miniature circuit (IC) that may result in portable computers!
Amazing information for 1963.

1966 Motorola Transistorized Prototype

1966 Motorola MiniTV pg1  (212K bytes) (212K)    1966 Motorola MiniTV pg2  (208K bytes) (208K)
(Courtesy Frank Guenthoer, Germany) for the English summary for the (new) French summary

1960s Portable TV USA (12K bytes) (12K) - Mid 60s Portable B&W television


1965 Sony BP6 3.5in Transistor.JPG (29688 bytes) (30K)
1965 Sony Model 4-203w  3-1/2" Screen (Battery Pack is BP-6, and woodgrain version is 4-204W).  My thanks to Richard Doherty for this information.

1969 Sony Dealer Brochure

1969 SONY Brochure (148K bytes) (148K)    1969 SONY Brochure  (156K bytes) (156K)    1969 SONY Brochure  (132K bytes) (132K)
Models: TV-400V, TV-500U, TV-710U, TV-720U, TV-900U, TV120U

1974 Panasonic TR001.JPG (33813 bytes) (34K)
1971 Panasonic Model TR-001 -- 1-1/2" Screen -- Called "Integrated Circuit", although I don't believe it had any ICs as we know them today.  No doubt you will remember the Panasonic tag line:  "Just Slightly Ahead of Our Time".  Panasonic had some innovative television sets in the 70s and 80s.  It began with this TR-001, and was soon followed by the TR-005, the 5" screen "Flying Saucer" design, and then the 1-1/2" micro series (see below). 

1974 Panasonic TR001-LH Side.JPG (31740 bytes) (32K)
Model TR-001 -- LH Side View

1974 Panasonic TR001-RH Side.JPG (29601 bytes) (30K)
Model TR-001 -- RH Side View

1974 Panasonic TR001-Top.JPG (21577 bytes) (22K) Top View    

Panasonic TR-001 Chassis (44K bytes) (44K) - Chassis view (Courtesy Frank Guenthoer, Germany) for the English summary for the (new) French summary

1971 Panasonic TV Catalog -USA- (224K bytes) (224K)
1971 Panasonic B&W TV Dealer Catalog
Showing both the TR-001 and TR-005


1978 Sinclair MTV1 2inch.JPG (41700 bytes) (42K)
1978 Sinclair -- Model MTV-1 - 2 inch screen -- Dual Band -- PAL & NTSC Standards -- Size: 4" wide x 6" deep x 1-1/2" tall - $399.95 New

1978 Sinclair MTV1 Rear.JPG (34709 bytes) (35K)
Model MTV-1 --- Rear View

Planet Sinclair Website

1981 Sony KV4100 3.7inch COLOR.JPG (42017 bytes) (42K)
1981 Sony KV-4100 -- 3.7" Color TV -- Micro Cassette Recorder -- Remote Control

1981 Sony KV4100 Side.JPG (35491 bytes) (35K)
KV-4100 -- LH Side

1981 Sony KV4100 RH Side.JPG (46942 bytes) (47K)
KV-4100 -- RH Side

1982 Panasonic TR1010P.JPG (30832 bytes) (31K)
1981 Panasonic Model 1010P -- 1-1/2" CRT Screen

1982 Panasonic TR1010P-PIX.JPG (19590 bytes) (19K)
Model 1010P -- Operating (Rosie O'Donnell Show)

1984 TMK717 2in  (96K bytes) (96K)
1984 Toyomenka TMK-717  - 2" Screen, with AM, FM, SW and TV.
Operates in UK, EC, and USA;  3-1/2" magnifying glass that clips on the front.
Uses AA batteries, a rechargeable pack (no longer available) or AC power.
[Courtesy Bil Munsil]


Click here to see the World's Smallest Television Set!

1988 SONY FD-210 1.75 inch.JPG (13497 bytes) (14K)
1988 Sony "Watchman" - Model FD-210 -- 1-3/4" Screen  -- This was the first in the series of "Watchman" sets.

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