UK's oldest working telly up for sale
One of Britain's oldest tellies - set to go under the hammer later this month - is 75 years old and surprisingly still in working order.
When the Marconi Type 702 was made, in 1936, the BBC had only been broadcasting television shows for three weeks, offering just two hours of programming a day on one channel.
The set has a 12in screen wrapped in a oversized walnut and mahogany cabinet, with a mirror-fitted lid that pops open to reflect the upward facing display out toward the viewer.
It has the original 240/405-line selector switch in place. The BBC switched to 625-line PAL in the 1960s. Around a third of the TV's parts are not original, however, though they were replaced with parts identical to the originals.
A Mr G B Davis of College Road, Dulwich purchased this particular model, for £99/15 - more than half the average annual wage at the time - on 26 November 1936.
Unfortunately for Davis, Crystal Palace burned down 3 days after he bought it, meaning he couldn't receive signal until after the war - a wait of ten years.
Davis' family is putting the set under the hammer at Bonhams with a pre-sale estimate of £3000-5000. However, the fact that it's the oldest working TV in the country and comes with all the original invoices, experts say it should fetch much more. ®
1936 RTFM equivalent
From the manual:
"A few minutes devoted to careful study of these instructions before an attempt is made to operate the instrument will be amply repaid by the consequent ease of adjustment."
Typical; you buy a new TV
and then there isn't anything on the bloody thing...
The information is somewhat garbled. Fellow enthusiasts and I have been discussing the telly for a while:
The television was sold some 3 weeks after the start of the BBC television service. Initially this was broadcast using the Marconi-EMI 405 line system (interlaced) and the Baird 240 line system (non-interlaced). The systems operated on alternate weeks. Televisions sold at this time had to support both systems, and they had a 405/240 line selector switch.
The Baird 240 line system was dropped at the start of 1937. First generation televisions sold after this date do not contain the extra valve and switch needed for 240 lines and have blanking plates fitted instead.
The problem is, many sets were returned to the factory for servicing, and any sets with the switch and 240 line circuitry had it removed. So now we have sets which never had the switch, and ones which had it removed. It is hard to tell exactly, as they both have blanking plates fitted.
Because this set was sold before 1937 we can say it definately will have had the circuitry and the switch. However, like all sets it had it removed and a blanking plate fitted. The switch is not original (it is completely wrong) and it is not connected to anything.
Having said that, it is still an interesting set. Some extra notes:
1) The television service was broadcast from Alexandra Palace, not Crystal Palace. It closed down for the duration of WWII, but reopened in 1946.
2) These tellies use the Marconi-EMI 405 line system, that was finally turned off in 1985 (although 625 lines had been in use since 1964, and PAL Colour since 1967).
3) Using a standards converter converting from 625 to 405, you can connect up pretty much anything you want to it. I've even demonstrated playing a PS3 on mine.
Oldest working telly
I wonder if he went for the extended warranty option?
I would guess zero too. But the question is hardly fair.
I would ask - How many of the latest TVs are designed to last more than 10 years, how many cost over £10,000, (article says the old TV cost half average annual wages) and how many will have owners prepared to pay to replace approx 1/3 of the parts over the life of the TV.
Thanks to the cheap cheap prices stuff costs, most people will bin and replace the entire TV.