RCA & the Westinghouse 'mulligan'

When the Radio Corporation of America was formed, Westinghouse was not included.

It's perhaps easiest to think of GE propping up competitors in their almost textbook approach to monopolizing markets. But, capitalism was only desirable when kept within national boudaries it seems, and so Marconi was usurped, Moorhead was quashed, and Westinghouse was brought into the fold. GE had their monopoly again in the guise of RCA.

But Westinghouse was the outsider, and had almost certainly been working to not only compete against RCA/GE, but also against Moorhead. In early 1920, Moorhead was the one to beat, and the Radiotron was still in the labs of Cuyahoga. 

WLCo. had the lamp factories, and Westinghouse was marketing their resistance coupled Aeriola Grand, using their Aeriotron tubes. They had spent a great deal of effort developing a vacuum tube factory, and along with many others, they desperately sought a tube that would avoid the Deforest patents. 

  • WR-21, 0.7amp @ 4v DC, based with a socket standard that Westinghouse newly introduced, perhaps to require their radios used only their tubes. This base was the predecessor to the WD-11 'one big pin' offset from three smaller pins, with all pins the same size. 

Westinghouse Radiotron 201 (WR-21) variants:
The rejected Westinghouse 201 is perhaps the only tube bearing marks using "Westinghouse Electric & Mfg. Co." which was changed to "Westinghouse Lamp Co." for all subsequent tubes they made for RCA.


{v1} Tubular (T-12?), 'Westinghouse Electric & Mfg. Co.' 'Radiotron Model UV 201', 0.7amp @ 4v DC

  Westinghouse 201 w/Shaw base & WR-21 internals


{v1} "Westinghouse Electric & Mfg. Co." "Radiotron Model UV 201" with tubular envelope & Shaw base.

Cosmetically, this may represent the best example known. Using ballpark estimations, 3200 made, 20% made it to the public = 640, 50% of those started with poor labels = 320 clean examples, 20% survived 95+yrs = approx 64 clean examples may exist.

Lots of room for errors, but it illustrates the rarity of this key tube.  

Designed for the Aeriola Grand, the WR-21 was used in conjunction with WB-800 ballast tubes. Westinghouse had aims to use a version of their triode that would ship with their RA/DA sets. Had this happened, millions of WR-21's might have been sold, but Westinghouse would join the RCA consortium and change their designs to use the full amp UV-201, making the WR-21 one of the first tube specifications to obsoleted almost as soon as it was released.

Before May of 1921, all tubes made by Westinghouse used the 'Aeriotron' brand.

References by Tyne and others to the first delivery of Westinghouse Radiotron tubes tell the tale of roughly 3200 tubes being delivered to RCA. This was essentially their backstock of WR-21 tubes, rebased using an ink-stamped supply of Shaw bases.

To their credit, they used a bold ink stamp, much nicer than most future BB Radiotrons.

Perhaps RCA was so upset by the vastly different design, and the slightly different operating parameters, that they didnt even notice that the Shaw bases had been acquired by Westinghouse during the auction of the Moorhead labs. A few of these bore the unmistakeable engraving remnants of 'Marconi Deforest Audion' labelling.

{in progress here...}

  • WD-11, 0.25amp @1.1v DC, based with Westinghouse's proprietary standard
  • WD-12, 0.25amp @1.1v DC, based with a standard UV socket.{Feb 1923}
  • WX-12, adapted the UX socket update {Feb 1925}

The WD-12 was first sold paired with the Radiola V, offered in Marysville, Kansas at $142.50, regularly $207.50. Advertised 23-Mar-1923. This is the first sign of the WD-12 I have located outside RCA references. By April, the Radiola RC (still marked Westinghouse) was shipping with three WD-12 tubes, perhaps fulfilling contractual goals of their radios selling with their tubes, the original design of the WD-11 tube base -- now gone.

90% or more of the BBTT WD-12 that Westinghouse produced used the RCA style brass base, though perhaps a bit thinner than earlier NELA park constructions used for 201s. A label was applied to these, which was almost immediately subject to damage. The pins were inserted with a white ceramic bottom, and most have the RCA logo etched into their tipped envelopes.

Before moving to the BBNT then BKNT known as the WX-12, I would like to expand a bit and look at those earliest variations of the WD-12. One can learn a lot about Westinghouse engineering by studying the WR-21 and WD-11; both purely Westinghouse tubes.

The WD-12 is the first truly integrated and designed for RCA tube using Westinghouse Dry-cell technology. General electric had been working on the UV-199 with many delays and portable sets demanded dry cell offerings that were ruggedized for portables.

Bibliography references:
  1. Personal Collection, Chris Benson uv199.com. *
  2. Radio Broadcast, Dec-1929, pg. 123. From AmericanRadioHistory.com. Retrieved 30-Nov-2018. !

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