RADIO VALVE COMPANY (RVC) -
TUBE PRODUCTION


An event occurred in 1923 that was to have an important bearing on the future activities of the Canadian Marconi Company for many years, then known as Marconi Wireless Telegraph.. This was the signing of agreements on March 7th , 1923 with Canadian General Electric (CGE) and the Radio Valve Company of Canada Ltd. (RVC). The latter company had been incorporated in November 1922 for the purpose of acquiring, as a going concern, the business of CGE in connection with the manufacture and sale of thermonic valves, which had previously been carried on by CGE at its factory in Toronto. RVC  manufactured vacuum tubes under the trade name "Radiotron".  and were distributed to the radio trade exclusively by the Canadian Marconi Company (MWT) and Canadian General Electric.  MWT would change their corporate name to Canadian Marconi in 1025.

The most important provisions of the agreement may be summarized as follows:

1. MWT and CGE would each subscribe in equal ratio for the Capital Stock of RVC. (The amount actually subscribed totalled $100,000 each.)

2. CGE would be entitled to nominate three of the five directors of RVC.

3. RVC would be entitled to receive the full benefit of all patent rights, present and future, belonging to or controlled by either CGE or MWT for a term up to December 31st, 1944.

4. RVC undertook not to supply or sell thermionic valves to any entity other than MWT but the latter agreed to ensure that CGE would be supplied with its requirements at a price equal to that charged to MWT plus a profit of 10%.

5. CMC agreed to purchase all its thermionic valves from RVC.

It appears that the agreement on the part of CGE to pay CMC 10% profit on all valves supplied to CGE was mainly due to the dominant patent position of  CMC. Also, of course, CGE had at that time a large shareholding in CMC. In any event, this arrangement remained in effect until 1944 and provided a substantial source of revenue for the Company.

Another important agreement, known as the "Canadian Radio License Agreement" was also concluded in 1923, It was signed by CGE, MWT , the Canadian Westinghouse Company Ltd., The Bell Telephone Company of Canada Ltd., the Northern Electric Company Ltd,, International Western Electric Company Inc., and Rogers Majestic. It provided for cross-licensing under the patents owned or controlled by the parties to the agreement and was drawn for a minimum period of 10 years, after which anyone or more of the parties could withdraw by giving one year's notice in writing. However, with respect to CGE only, the agreement was to be terminated in any case at December 31st, 1944. Actually, the basic principles established by the agreement continued to be effective, with minor changes, until at least 1956.

Here is a series of photos which showcase the RVC tube production line in 1944.There were some 1,800 separate steps in the production of the typical vacuum tube. Of the total, 450 were  testing and inspection steps. By 1934, there were 140 different tube types being produced in Canada . There was over 100,000 square feet of  floor  space devoted to this effort  and 1,100 people employed in the production of tubes.

RVC COMPANY PHOTOS
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RVC Toronto promotional activity, October 1943. This was the RVC corporate booth set up at the T. Eaton Company in Toronto. The equipment for the original RVC plant was ordered during the summer of 1921 and in 1922 RVC started shipping the original UV-200 and UV201 tubes. 
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RVC  Toronto Training Department 1944- All new employees spent their first few days in the Training Department. Here, under the direction of a competent supervisor, they were taught the correct way to do their work. 
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RVC Toronto 1944 - Mount Assembly Section . Assembling mounts was a major part in the making of a vacuum tube, Assembly operators are shown here in one of the clean, well-lit and well-ventilated assembly sections. 
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RVC Toronto 1944. Spraying cathodes.  Spraying of the cathodes was still dome by hand, It necessitated the highest degree of skill,
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RVC Toronto 1944 – Individual Grid Winding Lathe. Long training and much shill is required of an operator before she is capable of operating one of these intricate machines 
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RVC Toronto 1944 – A portion of the grid machine section. Grids in the newer types of tube necessitate the use of the best equipment available. This bank of the latest type of grid winders constitutes about one-third of those in operation. Tuvbes were made with a tolerance or +/- 3/1000 th of an inch. 
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RVC Toronto 1944 – Mount Assembly. Each operator has her individual  electric spot welder. All the parts which make up a vacuum tube are welded together at the Mount Stations . 
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RVC Toronto. 1944. This view shows a finishing unit where mounts are sealed into the glass bulb after which they are exhausted, based and capped.. Tubes were exhausted of air, down to one millionth of an atmosphere.
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RVC Toronto 1944. As a result of increasing demand for tubes, RVC had to expand their manufacturing facility. (From Radio Trade Builder   April 1944) 
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RVC Toronto 1944 - This is one of the latest automatic, exhausting machines being used in the production of high power l tubes. The exhausting device is shown with all of  its attendant equipment. 
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RVC Toronto 1944 - Quality control testing on high power tubes.. All tubes in production are continuously being checked by the Engineering Department to ensure that the highest quality is being maintained. 
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 RVC plant, Toronto, circa 1944. Employees entrance. Its quitting time for these hard working employees. 
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RVC Toronto. 1944.  http://www.jproc.ca/marconi/tube_production.htmlcompany's front door in Toronto 
Unless otherwise noted all photos in this table by Alan Walker, part of the Library and Archives Canada collection. 

 
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RVC produced tubes were typically shipped in this trademark box. (E-bay photo)

 
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This letter, sent by Ed Collins to  RVC, is a testament to the reliability of the RVC product.
Contributors and Credits:

1)  “The Early Development of Radio in Canada 1901-1930 by Robert Murray. page 31
2) Lewis Bodkin  <05bodkin555(at)gmail,com>
3) RVC tube factory photos  by Alan Walker
4) Radio Trade Builder Magazine, Dec 1934
 


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