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Author Topic: The Death of the Vacuum Tube  (Read 1802 times)
Zeppelin Captain

« on: July 02, 2016, 09:01:50 pm »

Article explains how vacuum tubes have finally become obsolete in the last remaining common application for the technology.

Useful vacuum tubes (AKA valves) were invented in 1904 by John Ambrose Fleming, but did not find a practical use until around 1914 when they began to be used in radio equipment. The tubes only became ubiquitous in the 1920s-1930s, so I'd consider them to be after the era that steampunk usually references, but to most people, tubes are "old" technology, so they tend to find their way into steampunk props.

And now, according to this article, they may finally truly be an obsolete technology.
United Kingdom United Kingdom

« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2016, 02:28:41 am »

Respectfully, I'm not entirely sure that I take your meaning.  What do you mean by "obsolete technology?" You can interpret this in two ways:-

  • The technology has been surpassed
  • There is no demand

I wave the high power radio , scientific and radar applications that will still require valves for some time.  Consider that many everyday things have been technologically surpassed yet are in mainstream usage.  Incandescent filament bulbs.  Fountain pens.  Latin. They'll probably be teaching Latin in Martian universities.

 Then consider demand.  There are two contemporary market segments for valves.  The Steam Punkers and the Valve Amplificationators (I can't think of a suitable collective noun).  Both segments are from the AB socio economic groups with money to spend and time on their hands.  Whilst Steam Punk may decline as it becomes démodé, those audiophiles will still want their "unique" sound.  There are warehouses piled high with valves, but they're not overly complex for small scale manufacture.  If someone will pay, someone will sell.  Like sex.  Polaroid cameras are coming back.  People have just shelled out £4M for the Flying Scottsman, a dirty CO2 belching steam train.  I myself am looking to purchase valves (CV4002 equivalents) for a true random number generator in what I term a Functional Steam Punk project.

Methinks valves are going to be around for a long, long time.
Drew P
Zeppelin Admiral
United States United States

« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2016, 01:15:24 pm »

Tell that to all the audio fanatics and tube amp manufacturers.

Never ask 'Why?'
Always ask 'Why not!?'
J. Wilhelm
╬ Admiral und Luftschiffengel ╬
Board Moderator
United States United States

Sentisne fortunatum punkus? Veni. Diem meum comple

« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2016, 08:54:23 pm »

There will always be demand, for specialist applications as Mr. Drew P pointed out. I f we have people making working miniature jet engines for models and even "flying wing" adrenaline junkies, then there will always be someone making vacuum tubes. The issue is which vacuum tubes will still be made, will there be replacements, and what the cost will be, etc. etc.  Vacuum tubes will become exceedingly expensive due to the low specialist demand.

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