The following are some of the landmark TV products designed and manufactured by the Pye Company
For a comprehensive and descriptive listing of Pye Consumer Products by year, please select this link
1931 - Television
Peter Goldmark, a 27 year old Hungarian, was recruited in 1931 to set up a Television Development Department.
He started work initially on 30 line mechanically scanned television using the Baird principle then moved on to electronic scanning. Quote from the Duke of Kent when visiting Pye “it will never replace cricket”!
The department was shut down in 1933 due to the economic depression.
Peter Goldmark left Pye and joined CBS in the USA where he invented the LP record and sequential colour TV and later became Director of CBS Labs but remained in contact with Pye.
1935 - Cathodeon Formed
In 1935 Cathodeon was formed in Church Street, Chesterton to produce valves and cathode ray tubes.
We believe this was formed so that Pye would not be dependent upon Mullard (who were owned by a competitor, Philips).
In 1935 Pye restarted the development of electronically scanned television “as a matter of urgency”.
To lead the television development team, Pye recruited Baden John Edwards and Donald Jackson.
CO Stanley persuaded them to join Pye by sharing his vision for the future of television and his determination to make Pye play a key role in it.
1936 - Pye 4201 and 4200
The BBC begin regularly scheduled electronically scanned television from Alexandra Palace in London on 2nd of November 1936 and Pye had TV sets ready for the first broadcasts.
The 4201 (with radio gramophone included) sold for 135 guineas and the 4200 (TV only) for 95 guineas.
Interior view of the 4201. The power supply is contained in the base with the sound and vision chassis above.
1937 - Pye 4046 and 817
TV prices were quickly reduced to increase demand.
Initially TV was only broadcast 3 hours per day and only in the London area.
C O Stanley was quoted in the press at this time “The public were sadly disappointed (in the early days), programmes of little or no entertainment value”.
He was also lobbying for an extension of TV transmissions to the provinces.
1937 Pye 817 - Its 5" CRT was specially developed by Cathodeon and used a very low EHT of 900 volts.
The 4046 is a 9” console receiver and the 817 is a 5" table top receiver. Its CRT was specially developed by Cathodeon and used a very low EHT of 900 volts. The 817 had no sound, the sound signal was plugged into the gramophone pickup socket on a radio
More models were soon developed at lower cost and within two years the company had sold 2,000 sets at an average price of £34.
In 1937 Pye Radio Ltd was renamed Pye Ltd and C O Stanley took over management of the business.
Sales of all television sets in the UK increased through a combination of cheaper sets, and more attractive programmes. In 1939 a total of 19000 sets had been sold, more than every country including the USA.
By 1939 Pye was the third largest television maker after EMI and Ekco.
1939 - The Pye 915
Also in 1939 Pye was preparing to show their latest and best design, the 915 model, at the annual Radio show.
So far the reception range of the Alexandra Palace transmitter had been limited to about 25 miles.
With the 915 model, Pye wanted to increase this range to include Cambridge (50 miles). To achieve this, B.J. Edwards had to design a receiver with an, until then, unheard of sensitivity.
The receiver architecture was a Tuned Radio Frequency (TRF) design, also known as a “Straight Receiver”. Since there was only one station transmitting television signals, there was no need for the receiver to be tuned, so they did not need the complexity of a “super-het?”
The TRF receiver used the Philips/Mullard EF50 valve. The 915 receiver became the basis of the IF amplifier for British wartime radar receivers and was known as the Pye strip.
For his TRF receiver Edwards needed an RF amplifier valve with excellent high frequency properties to enable TV receivers in Cambridge to pick up London TV signals. Pye contacted Philips Research Labs in the Netherlands who were working on the design of valves for television receivers, one of these was the EE50.
With some tweaking from Baden Edwards and Donald Jackson (for example the metal shield, which became known in Pye as the Jackson cap) the EE50 valve was developed into the EF50 for the Pye 915 receiver and Pye was able to receive TV transmissions at up to 5 times the distance compared to the competition.
In Spring 1939 scientists researching airborne radar receivers were directed to visit Pye by Prof Edward Appleton where they saw the 915 receivers.
In order to extend the range of Radar systems they needed very sensitive receivers.
The Pye 915 TRF receiver was ideal for use as the Intermediate Frequency amplifier in a radar receiver so production orders were placed for the ‘Pye Strip’ as it became known.
The "Pye Strip"
1946 - Pye B16T and D16T
During the last years of the war CO Stanley anticipated a large post-war TV market so TV development was secretly restarted before the war ended. Pye was ready with new sets when the BBC relaunched their TV service after the war.
Pye introduced 9“ console and table top television sets still using the EF50 valve called the B16T and D16T in 1946. The designs benefited significantly from the Development and Production experience that Pye had gained during the war.
B16T Table Top TV
D16T Console TV
1948 - Pye B18T and D18T
In 1948 Pye introduced the innovative B18T and D18T (mains transformer less) console and table top television sets.
Previous models had used a mains transformer to produce the high voltage required to operate the picture tube which was expensive and also potentially lethal to anyone servicing the set. Pye introduced the first production mains “transformer-less” TV using line flyback to generate the EHT. This was much safer than previous designs and was also cheaper to produce.
Soon all TV manufacturers across the world copied Pye’s transformer less technique.
B18T Table-top receiver
Internal views of the Pye B18T TV showing the EF50 valves and the novel EHT (Extra High Tension) technology.
The new mains transformer-less technology also enabled the set to run on DC mains as well as AC.
1950 - Blackscreen TV
In 1950 Pye introduced “Black screen” Television.
Previously TV sets could only be viewed in a darkened room. These sets could be viewed in daylight.
FV1C 12" "Black screen" console model, 17 valve 5 channel
1953 - The Pye V4
The Pye V4 was a 14" table model 20 valve 5 channel set.
The cabinet was designed by the furniture designer Robin Day.
It incorporated Automatic Picture Control (APC) to prevent the problem of the picture fluttering or breaking up due to multipath reflections of the transmitted signal from aircraft passing overhead (a common problem in early TV sets). It also had an early example of “flywheel sync” which allowed reception at up to 100 miles in favourable locations.
There was also the V7 (17” version) and the V7C (17” console version).
1954 - The Pye VT4
C O Stanley had long been an advocate of Commercial TV and ensured that Pye were the first manufacturer to have a TV that could receive Band III transmissions to receive ITV.
The VT4 was a tuneable version of V4 with 13 channel tuner to enable reception of BBC transmissions throughout the country as well as ITV transmissions due to begin in 1955.
Prior to this time TV sets were supplied pre-tuned to receive transmissions for the area they were to be used in.
1955 - The Pye VT14
Pye launched the VT14 in 1955 but it had serious technical problems.
C O Stanley described it as “a really shockingly bad television set”. It had a tendency to drift and had several unreliable components, including valves and capacitors.
It took a while before the problems were fed back to the company resulting in a huge number of field problems. As a result some dealers gave up their dealerships.
Pye recovered but never regained their technological leadership.
1956 - The Pye CS17
This was a 17" tube 19 valve table model using Printed Circuit Board technology and the cabinet was again designed by Robin Day.
This received an award from the Council of Industrial Design in 1957.
1958 - The Pye PV110
The PV110 transportable TV was the first UK TV set to utilise a 110 degree CRT.
This reduced the depth of the set by about 3” compared to the 90 degree tubes used previously.
1960 - Remote Control
Rear view of motor driven tuner unit
In 1960 Pye introduced a range of sets with cable operated remote control (models V210A, V420A, V430A, V600A, V630A and V710A). These used a motor to rotate the rotary tuner selector. To change channel you depressed the end cap of the remote control unit with your fingers which operated the tuning drive motor switch causing the tuner in the TV to select the next channel. You could also change the sound volume and picture brightness by adjusting knobs on the remote control unit.
Remote control unit showing the cable running off to the left which connects it to the TV receiver
1964 - Dual Standard 405 line VHF/625 line UHF Sets
In 1960 Pye acquired EKCO and in 1961 demonstrated the first fully engineered dual standard 405/625 line VHF/UHF sets at the Radioshow under the Pye and EKCO brand names.
The competitors were only able to demonstrate 625 line only sets.
The sets had been “secretly” developed, not in the TV lab but by a German engineer engaged specially and attached to the Radio lab in a different location.
BBC 2 (625 line, UHF service) was launched in April 1964. A range of Pye 19” and 23” models were available at launch.
Colour Television Development
In 1948 C O Stanley envisaged Colour Television as the next step in the development of the market.
In the USA Peter Goldmark at CBS was the world leader in Colour TV and was developing a mechanical colour TV system.
CO Stanley also allocated 10% of Pye’s 1949 profit to Colour TV development using the “Goldmark” principle.
Pye’s television experts, Ted Cope and Leslie Germany, were sent by B J Edwards to consult with Peter Goldmark at CBS about his work on colour television.
Leslie Germany operating a control console
The first mechanical colour television used disks with coloured sheets rotating in front of the camera and receiver picture tubes at high speed. The red, blue and green colours were transmitted ‘sequentially’ and when seen by the viewer would be perceived as colour due to the persistence of vision of the human eye.
The receivers would fly apart if they were picked up while the disk was operating!
The first colour prototype TVs were demonstrated at Radiolympia in 1949.
After working on mechanical colour television in secret, Pye surprised the rest of the world by demonstrating colour television at Radiolympia in 1949.
During 1951 to 1953 Pye started development of electronic colour television including cameras, transmitters and receivers.
Cameras used the rotating colour disk technique.
Receivers used the Chromatron tube. They appear to be a copy of an RCA colour TV design but operating at 405 lines rather than the US 525 line standard.
In 1953 Pye demonstrated colour TV using the electronic system at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. It was relayed live to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children and certain other venues in London.
Unfortunately Goldmark’s sequential system ran into opposition in the US because it was not compatible with monochrome TV. The system was dropped in favour of the rival NTSC system.
It was another 14 years before colour TV using the PAL system was launched in the UK.