Author Topic: What happened to RCA plants?  (Read 22950 times)

robert_b1

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #20 on: February 04, 2013, 12:42:42 AM »
Jack Welsh, former CEO of General Electric, wanted to dispose of its consumer electronics division.  GE purchased RCA, packaged it together with its consumer electronics division, and sold the bundled package to Thomson Consumer Electronics in France.  Thomson is now known as Technicolor SA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ProScan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomson_SA

Company highlights...

Manufacturer of Laser Disc Players and Discs in the mid 1970's.
Manufacturer Very Large Picture Tubes (32 inch and 35 inch) in the early 1990's.
Manufacturer of DirecTV receivers in the early 1990's.

Company lowlight...

Management wasted many opportunties to participate in joint-ventures with Compaq and Microsoft to become the leading manufacturer of high definition digital computer monitors for internet-based home entertainment systems.

 



torgy1962

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2013, 07:25:00 PM »
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, wanted to dispose of its consumer electronics division.  GE purchased RCA, packaged it together with its consumer electronics division, and sold the bundled package to Thomson Consumer Electronics in France.  Thomson is now known as Technicolor SA.

Only the consumer electronics operations of RCA were sold to Thomson. Other RCA properties such as NBC, Sarnoff Labs, military operations, etc., were kept by GE (for the moment). In the same transaction, GE acquired Thomson's medical diagnostics business, thus strengthening its presence in that growing field.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 10:10:07 PM by torgy1962 »

Gary

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2013, 10:03:05 PM »
Yes, I remember the Hoosier room at RCA.  It was a nice treat to be invited to eat there!!  They still used china on the tables, cloth napkins and other compliments.   I had several friends in engineering, so we would meet there about once every couple of weeks, good food and priced quite fair.  If the TV market was not getting ready to take a dump, I never would have left the place.  Great people to work with!

On a railroad related note, there were quite a few tracks inside the facility.  Before the Bloomington plant was used, TVs were built there at 600 N. Sherman Dr.   Trucks were not the way to ship when the plant was booming.  They were shipping in raw materials by rail and TVs by the carload out of the plant.  But that did not last long.  The plant soon switched to trucks for delivery.  Raw materials were still coming into the plant by rail, but as soon as Bloomington got up and running, TV assembly moved there. 

I remember seeing pics of the various plants, they had a machine shop that was probably bigger than anything in Indianapolis, a complete wood shop to build cabinets, a metal shop to build the chassis, a picture tube plant, which was building #1.   I was told that when the plant was booming, area homes were renting parking spaces to workers at the plant, there was not enough parking to go around. 

Of course, the plant was far past it's prime when I started there, but the stories the old-timers told, would curl your hair!!  It would make a great book!!

Gary

Bob Durnell

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2013, 07:49:13 AM »
I still have one of those Bloomington built RCA's.  We bought a  big 31" big wood console unit with the glass doors underneath in late 1994, and it STILL works fine.  It cost $1200.00 and I got a set of the stuffed Nipper and Chipper dogs with it, which we still have in perfect condition.  I was VERY proud of that TV when we got it, and  was our main TV until two years ago when my wife won a 42' flat screen.  It is now in our basement, and I use it every couple of weeks.  The picture is not great by 2013 standards, but very good for its era.  I'm guessing that Panasonic flat screen will NOT still be working 16 years from now.  :(

LJ

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2013, 08:14:24 AM »
The RCA plant in Monticello, IN. use to be served by the Monon Railroad. They went out of business there in the early 1980's. The plant sat unused for a few years and then another wood products company bought it called "Jordan Mfg." (No relation) and they would make summer lawn furniture. They bought the building because it still had rail service. They would receive boxcars of Canadian pine wood in boxcars from the Canadian National. Then for some reason toward early 2000, the CSX decided that they wasn't shipping enough cars to this facility and they came in and removed about a half mile of the track on the former Monon main leading to the plant. Four or five years later this building had a bad fire. They rebuilt to the south of town. Some scrapper removed the rest of the former RCA spur.

indyspy

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2013, 01:39:14 PM »

Company lowlight...

Management wasted many opportunties to participate in joint-ventures with Compaq and Microsoft to become the leading manufacturer of high definition digital computer monitors for internet-based home entertainment systems.

Not one mention of the infamous flop known as SelectaVision! These were made in Indianapolis. It used vinyl record technology to show video and audio.

RCA threw 17 years of R&D money into this dead end, released it late. And got run over by videotape in the end. 100s of million dollar write off in the end.

If in doubt, Notch it out!

torgy1962

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2013, 01:59:05 PM »
Not one mention of the infamous flop known as SelectaVision! These were made in Indianapolis. It used vinyl record technology to show video and audio. RCA threw 17 years of R&D money into this dead end, released it late. And got run over by videotape in the end. 100s of million dollar write off in the end.

A commercial flop to be sure, but certainly all that research was not wasted, instead generating innovations that could be used in other products or licensed.

torgy1962

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2013, 10:59:44 PM »
So, how many plants did RCA have in Indiana? I've heard Bloomington, Indy, and Monticello mentioned on this thread.

HoosierVirg

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2013, 12:46:24 AM »
So, how many plants did RCA have in Indiana? I've heard Bloomington, Indy, and Monticello mentioned on this thread.
Marion had one, closed in 2004 had about 1000 employees.
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CIOR

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #29 on: February 14, 2013, 04:06:40 PM »
I remember the video disc players.  My parents bought one, but don't know the year.  I want to say 1981-82. 
Memory says it was hard to find the disc's anyplace around and they ended up selling it to someone.  We got a VHS player and I recall it had a remote (it plugged in the front and had a 10-15' wire to it and all you could do was start and stop it.  My neighbors bought BetaMax and I recall going there to watch a movie that we couldn't get in VHS yet.

Of course sometime in all that we got our first console TV, before that we had a TV on a TV Stand in the corner and it was black and white (my parents didn't want to buy a color TV yet)...we finally got the RCA Color Console, which my dad had until the early 90's. 

torgy1962

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #30 on: February 14, 2013, 06:24:49 PM »
I still see both the players and discs at garage sales. In fact, last summer one sale had a Indiana-built RCA console TV, a player, and about a dozen discs for sale at $150. It sold for that while I was there without any haggling. Oh, and the disc player was playing on the TV!
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 09:29:52 PM by torgy1962 »

doublestacks

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #31 on: May 15, 2013, 01:59:14 AM »
the switch for the rockville rd plant is one of the haulage ramps from the westlake barrow pit. donno if some made this connection or not.
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robert_b1

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #32 on: May 15, 2013, 02:32:43 PM »
I then quit and moved to California, where I continued working in video.

It was a great place to be an engineer. Whatever you needed, you got.

These statements make me sad.

Back in the mid 1990's, Thomson engineers possesed the talent (knowledge in the use of digital video and sound) to design everything that Apple is doing today. 

Unfortunately, upper management was simply content with making digital receivers for DirecTV.

An example is the RCA Lyra -- at the 3 minute mark...

Sharky1

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #33 on: August 30, 2013, 11:27:43 PM »
I still see both the players and discs at garage sales. In fact, last summer one sale had a Indiana-built RCA console TV, a player, and about a dozen discs for sale at $150. It sold for that while I was there without any haggling. Oh, and the disc player was playing on the TV!

That's a laugh!
The Laser Disk players, or should I say the disks for the laser disk players just about all have failed because the aluminium layer in the middle of the disk that the video information was recorded on oxidized and they have become unreadable. Selectovision used a needle that tracked a groove like a record. Difference was the needle detected capacitance changes in the disk and converted it into program information. Still had to flip the 'record' half way through the movie. Video quality was about the same as VHS tape.

Selectovision was sad like polavision (Polaroid's instant home movies) in that they both came out a few years too late to sell well and were the last innovations of a great, dying company. Camcorders wiped out polavision. RCA and Polaroid should have both just saved their stockholder's money, but they had been working on the projects for so long.....
There a fine line between a 'hobby' and a 'mental illness'.

torgy1962

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #34 on: August 30, 2013, 11:32:22 PM »
That's a laugh!
The Laser Disk players, or should I say the disks for the laser disk players just about all have failed because the aluminium layer in the middle of the disk that the video information was recorded on oxidized and they have become unreadable. Selectovision used a needle that tracked a groove like a record. Difference was the needle detected capacitance changes in the disk and converted it into program information. Still had to flip the 'record' half way through the movie. Video quality was about the same as VHS tape.

I didn't say the picture was great, but it was playing, none-the-less! Look at broadcast TV tapes from that era. They aren't much better!!!

torgy1962

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #35 on: August 30, 2013, 11:45:59 PM »
And the cabinet for the TV was fine furniture, if only in-style for the era!

Sharky1

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #36 on: August 30, 2013, 11:52:23 PM »
RCA Bloomington was at least in part the legacy of Sarkes Tarzian, the engineer who started WTTV Ch 4. He built tuners and his TV tuners were in most, if not all RCA TVs. He also built other products under his own name. I remember the first FM radio in our house was a Sarkes Tarzian. He started WTTV almost as a hobby and it was the first TV station in Indiana. A few months after it went on the air the transmitter caught fire and it took 9 months to rebuild. At that stage it was almost a hobby project. Bloomington was the smallest market in the USA with a TV station and the transmitter was built in Trafalgar which was as close to Indianapolis as the FCC would allow a "Bloomington" station to put it's tower.

Years later WFBM/WRTV Ch6 would boast "Indiana's oldest continuously broadcasting television station" which was true because they started broadcasting while WTTV was off the air with it's transmitter fire.

Anyway I think RCA took over the  Sarkes Tarzian factory at some point and started production of full TV's in Bloomington. They also made wood cabinets there.
There a fine line between a 'hobby' and a 'mental illness'.

torgy1962

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #37 on: August 31, 2013, 12:01:59 AM »
RCA Bloomington was at least in part the legacy of Sarkes Tarzian, the engineer who started WTTV Ch 4. He built tuners and his TV tuners were in most, if not all RCA TVs. He also built other products under his own name. I remember the first FM radio in our house was a Sarkes Tarzian. He started WTTV almost as a hobby and it was the first TV station in Indiana. A few months after it went on the air the transmitter caught fire and it took 9 months to rebuild. At that stage it was almost a hobby project. Bloomington was the smallest market in the USA with a TV station and the transmitter was built in Trafalgar which was as close to Indianapolis as the FCC would allow a "Bloomington" station to put it's tower.

Years later WFBM/WRTV Ch6 would boast "Indiana's oldest continuously broadcasting television station" which was true because they started broadcasting while WTTV was off the air with it's transmitter fire.

Anyway I think RCA took over the  Sarkes Tarzian factory at some point and started production of full TV's in Bloomington. They also made wood cabinets there.

I'm a native of the NYC area, so none of this rings a bell. But I always enjoyed visiting my Grandparents in Philly, as they had a 1967 RCA color console, while my Dad didn't buy a color portable (also RCA) until 1973. The 1967 was scrapped long ago, but I still have the 1973 model!

torgy1962

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #38 on: August 31, 2013, 12:08:14 AM »
While we're on the subject of console TVs, does anyone remember when the repairman came with all sorts of equipment, like a vacuum cleaner, tube tester, and various other apparatus?

wolfeden

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Re: What happened to RCA plants?
« Reply #39 on: August 31, 2013, 12:11:18 AM »
While we're on the subject of console TVs, does anyone remember when the repairman came with all sorts of equipment, like a vacuum cleaner, tube tester, and various other apparatus?

Yes. And the TV worked when he left.