A set of articles on the subject
of electronic valves (tubes) by:
Andy J Cowley
March 1948 - 23rd
by David Knight
Andy Cowley started collecting and photographing electronic valves and
documenting their history in about 2001. Early in this venture, many of
the items he documented were either given or loaned to him by me; but
the collection grew, and he developed a particular interest in pre-WW2
thermionic devices (see photographs below).
When he died, in
April 2012, some items from my collection on permanent loan came back
to me. These were mainly gas discharge devices (including nixie tubes
). I had
neither interest in nor room for the thermionic valves however, except
for the ones that used to belong to my grandfather, or the ones that
are spares for equipment I still try to maintain (like the RA17
). Eventually, the
vast majority of the thermionic valves went to Colin
Chidgey (G3YHV), who has an interest in vintage wireless
Andy's numerous web
domains have died off one by one, for want of anyone who can access
them or who would be willing to pay the fees. Also, he took to building
his websites by hand-coding HTML or XML directly on the server, and he
never gave his passwords to anybody. Thus he created a situation that
would eventually cause all of his personal web articles to disappear.
We must presume that he did so inadvertently, and so I have collected
the material and have undertaken to re-present a large amount of it
here. I do so within the terms of Andy's original copyright
which stipulates that the material is free to use for non-commercial
and educational purposes, and his copyright conditions still apply. I
have however, also edited the material, removing the various
invitations to contact him (quite difficult now), and correcting
occasional errors, dead links, misattributions, etc..
There has been some
reorganisation. This was done because the integration of Andy's valve
pages into this website would otherwise have created an illogical
navigation scheme. Particularly, his articles contained a relatively
small amount of information on counting tubes and the Racal RA17,
whereas mine have a lot of it. Hence I have moved his nixie pages
nixie section. His RA17 valves article was already duplicated in my Racal section
he wrote it in 2001, and so there is no point in re-duplicating it in
the process of porting his articles. Most of his gas discharge tubes
moreover came from my collection, and I have considerable material to
add to what he gave; so I have started a new gas discharge tubes
section with his work in it.
reorganisation was necessitated by the fact that Andy actually had
three valve websites. The first (demon) seems to have been abandoned in
2002. It contained information on audio valves, miniature valves, and
2D pictures of valve boxes. The second (.com) had a copyright notice
running from 2005 to 2008 and showed a mature collection of pre- and
post-WW2 valves, a substantial collection of data, and 3D pictures of
valve boxes. The third (.org) had a copyright notice running from 2005
to 2012, and gave a substantially re-written and expanded section on
pre-WW2 valves and valve history. It was evident from the file
structure, that the latter effort was going to be the new definitive
site, but he had yet to transfer and update the rest of the material
from the .com website at the time he died.
To 'complete' Andy's
valve project (after annexing the Racal-related and discharge-tube
material, as discussed earlier), I have simply ported the content from
the .com site into the data structure of the .org site (omitting
re-written and duplicated pages). Also I have added the abandoned
material from the demon site and linked it in in places where it would
sensibly be expected to appear. The resulting navigation scheme is not
perfect, but finding everything that was there before should be
I do not,
incidentally, regard Andy's pages as sacrosanct. The creative commons
license allows people to build upon existing information, and it seems
to me that the best way to keep a body of work of this nature alive is
to make corrections or additions as they arise from time to time.
DWK. October 5th
Below are some photographs of the items he kept on display. Most of
these items are currently in the posession of Colin
British valves in Andy Cowley's
collection (click on image to
enlarge - the photo is in 3 pieces).
Further articles on electronic valve history
Thermionic Vacuum Tubes
, L H Bedford and W T
Gibson. Electrical Communication, April 1928, Vol.
. p218 - 226.
A Museum of Electronic Apparatus
R McV Weston. Electrical Communication, Oct. 1938, Vol. 17(2), p133 -
Electron Tube Pages
. Out of
copyright technical books, general and tube-related.
Tube data, etc..
- Giorgio Basile's collection.
W Knight Sept. 2013