Breaking Bad: Unabridged Guide by Howard Johnny

By Howard Johnny

Publication via Johnny, Howard

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Armed with the experience he had had a few years back in Professor Rozing’s physics lab at the St. Petersburg Institute, and already competent in making photoelectric cells, he visualized a row of tiny cells which he would scan electronically in the television fashion. Reading from one of his early notebooks, I see that he started with just seven photosensitive elements. This would allow him to search for the best photosensitive materials and ways of mounting and scanning them. Over time, he learned how to make a fairly good row of photosensors, which, when scanned repeatedly, would make an image of seven vertical bars on his improvised CRT display.

There was, therefore, a 50 year period between the first appearance of vacuum tube amplifiers and the tiny, reliable and low-cost transistors and microchips that so greatly expedite the construction of complex electronic systems. As we think back on it, what was it about vacuum tubes that makes it so easy for us to wipe them out of our minds and overcome any impulse to make any further use of them? As important as those Fleming diodes and de Forest “audions” were at the time of their invention, opening the way as they did to the world of electronics, they had certain inherent limitations and obnoxious features that we engineers always had to live with and try to work around.

The electrons are drawn away from the photocathode by a strong electric field that moves them altogether, as a sheet, almost instantly to the far end of the tube. A strong axial magnetic field holds the image electrons firmly in their relative positions (holds focus) as they travel. A pinhole port in a metal plate at the end of the tube becomes a scanning aperture or exit port for the arriving sheet of electrons. Scanning of this electron image is accomplished by magnetically moving the entire sheet of image electrons back and forth over the exit hole, just as you might slide a photographic negative over a dot on a sheet of paper.

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