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Thermionic valves or electron vacuum tubes have been popular since Lee de Forest introduced his famous "Audion" some 90 years ago, giving birth to the "Electronic Age," without which the "Information Age" would not have been possible.

By the late nineteen-forties, tubes were everywhere: in table and console radios, TVs, computers, telecommunications, and industrial machinery...... but progress and science marched on. The invention of the cool-running and service-free "transfer-resistor," later called the "transistor" by a team of physicists at Bell Telephone Labs in 1948 spelled the beginning of the end for tubes.

It took the Hi-Fi industry (including H.H. Scott) awhile to really embrace the new solid-state technology beginning around 1963 - 1964. Many music lovers were convinced to trade "up" to the latest technology. Transistors were cool running, maintenance-free, "better-spec'd," and seemed (at first) to posses a more powerful sound. They were after all, by-products of Projects Mercury & Gemini and who could argue with "space-age" technology?

Consequently, most tube equipment eventually was traded, discarded, handed-down or relegated to the attic, garage, or dumpster. Ironically, as the "Made-in-USA" manufacturers lost ground to the onslaught of low-cost, Japanese-built, solid-state gear, the export of older American-made tube gear found popularity among overseas audiophiles.

Fortunately a few enlightened "filament-heads," (mostly electrically-amplified musicians, and high-end audio purists) have kept the faith in tubes. For an entertaining perspective, see:
 Ric Manning's syndicated column: The Gizmo Page: "Tube Gear from the 60's Still in Demand."

For more info, we highly recommend you read Eric Bourbor's  "The Cool Sound of Tubes,"  as published in the IEEE Spectrum, August 1998 edition. 

In short, tubes have personality and soul. Fact is, we love the sound of tubes so much, we're willing to put up with and even romanticize their often very real drawbacks. 

To help learn the differences and commonalities for the more commonly used tube types, the following pages feature basic "generic" tube specifications from tube manuals. You should always consult a specific vendor's data sheets for more precise data.


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