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Zenith Electronics

Zenith Electronics

Overview
Zenith Electronics Corporation is a brand of the South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

n company LG Electronics
LG Electronics
LG Electronics is a global electronics and telecommunications company headquartered in Yeouido, Seoul, South Korea. The company operates its business through five divisions: mobile communications, home entertainment, home appliance, air conditioning and business solution...

. The company was previously an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 manufacturer of television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

s and other consumer electronics, and was headquartered in Lincolnshire, Illinois
Lincolnshire, Illinois
Lincolnshire is a village in the Vernon Township region of Lake County, in the U.S. state of Illinois. The village is a suburb of Chicago, a city in the adjacent Cook County. Its population was 6,108 at the time of the 2000 census. Lincolnshire was incorporated on August 5, 1957, from the...

. LG Electronics acquired a controlling share of Zenith in 1995 and eventually the rest in 1999. Zenith was the inventor of subscription television and the modern remote control
Remote control
A remote control is a component of an electronics device, most commonly a television set, used for operating the television device wirelessly from a short line-of-sight distance.The remote control is usually contracted to remote...

, and the first to develop HDTV
High-definition television
High-definition television is video that has resolution substantially higher than that of traditional television systems . HDTV has one or two million pixels per frame, roughly five times that of SD...

 in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

.

Zenith-branded products are sold in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 (to 1983), Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

.


The company was co-founded by Ralph Matthews and Karl Hassel  in Chicago, Illinois as Chicago Radio Labs in 1918 as a small producer of amateur radio
Amateur radio
Amateur radio is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication...

 equipment.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Zenith Electronics Corporation is a brand of the South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

n company LG Electronics
LG Electronics
LG Electronics is a global electronics and telecommunications company headquartered in Yeouido, Seoul, South Korea. The company operates its business through five divisions: mobile communications, home entertainment, home appliance, air conditioning and business solution...

. The company was previously an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 manufacturer of television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

s and other consumer electronics, and was headquartered in Lincolnshire, Illinois
Lincolnshire, Illinois
Lincolnshire is a village in the Vernon Township region of Lake County, in the U.S. state of Illinois. The village is a suburb of Chicago, a city in the adjacent Cook County. Its population was 6,108 at the time of the 2000 census. Lincolnshire was incorporated on August 5, 1957, from the...

. LG Electronics acquired a controlling share of Zenith in 1995 and eventually the rest in 1999. Zenith was the inventor of subscription television and the modern remote control
Remote control
A remote control is a component of an electronics device, most commonly a television set, used for operating the television device wirelessly from a short line-of-sight distance.The remote control is usually contracted to remote...

, and the first to develop HDTV
High-definition television
High-definition television is video that has resolution substantially higher than that of traditional television systems . HDTV has one or two million pixels per frame, roughly five times that of SD...

 in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

.

Zenith-branded products are sold in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 (to 1983), Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

.

History



The company was co-founded by Ralph Matthews and Karl Hassel  in Chicago, Illinois as Chicago Radio Labs in 1918 as a small producer of amateur radio
Amateur radio
Amateur radio is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication...

 equipment. The name "Zenith" came from its founders' call sign
Call sign
In broadcasting and radio communications, a call sign is a unique designation for a transmitting station. In North America they are used as names for broadcasting stations...

, 9ZN. They were joined in 1921 by LCDR Eugene F. McDonald
Eugene F. McDonald
Eugene F. McDonald founded Zenith Radio in 1921, a major American radio and electronics concern.He was born in 1886 in Syracuse, New York. His father was variously remembered as a storekeeper and insurance salesman. McDonald dropped out of high school at age 14 to help support the family.In 1904,...

, and Zenith Radio Company was formally incorporated in 1923. Zenith introduced the first portable radio in 1924, the first mass-produced AC radio in 1926, and push-button tuning in 1927. It added automobile radios in the 1930s with its Model 460, promoting the fact that it needed no separate generator or battery, selling at US$59.95. The first Zenith TV set would appear in 1939, with its first commercial sets in 1948. The company would eventually go on to invent such things as the wireless remote control
Remote control
A remote control is a component of an electronics device, most commonly a television set, used for operating the television device wirelessly from a short line-of-sight distance.The remote control is usually contracted to remote...

, FM multiplex stereo
Stereophonic sound
The term Stereophonic, commonly called stereo, sound refers to any method of sound reproduction in which an attempt is made to create an illusion of directionality and audible perspective...

, high-contrast and flat-face picture tube
Picture tube
Picture Tube may refer to:Electronics*cathode ray tube, a common component of electronics such as televisions and other displaysGraphics...

s, and the MTS
Multichannel television sound
Multichannel television sound, better known as MTS , is the method of encoding three additional channels of audio into an NTSC-format audio carrier.- History :...

 stereo system used on analog television broadcasts in the US and Canada (as opposed to the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

-developed NICAM
NICAM
Near Instantaneous Companded Audio Multiplex is an early form of lossy compression for digital audio. It was originally developed in the early 1970s for point-to-point links within broadcasting networks...

 digital stereo sound system for analog TV broadcasts, used in many places around the world.) Zenith was also one of the first companies to introduce a digital HDTV system implementation, parts of which were included in the ATSC standard starting with the 1993 Grand Alliance
Grand Alliance (HDTV)
The Grand Alliance was a consortium created in 1993 at the behest of the Federal Communications Commission to develop the American digital television and HDTV specification, with the aim of pooling the best work from different companies...

.

In the 1980s, Zenith encountered increasing financial difficulty as their market share progressively went to Japanese companies who had lower overhead, and could sell their sets cheaper. In 1979, they entered the home computer market with the purchase of Heath Company
Heathkit
Heathkits were products of the Heath Company, Benton Harbor, Michigan. Their products included electronic test equipment, high fidelity home audio equipment, television receivers, amateur radio equipment, electronic ignition conversion modules for early model cars with point style ignitions, and...

 and their H-8 computer kit; Zenith renamed Heath's computer division Zenith Data Systems
Zenith Data Systems
Zenith Data Systems was a division of Zenith founded in 1979 after Zenith acquired Heathkit, which had, in 1977, entered the personal computer market. Headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Zenith sold personal computers under both the Heath/Zenith and Zenith Data Systems names...

, and eventually sold ZDS and Heath to Groupe Bull
Groupe Bull
-External links:* * — Friends, co-workers and former employees of Bull and Honeywell* *...

 in 1989 to raise money for HDTV research efforts. Zenith changed its name to Zenith Electronics Corporation in 1984, to reflect its interests in computers and CATV, and since it had left the radio business two years earlier.

By 1990, Zenith was in trouble and looking more attractive to a hostile takeover. To avoid this, Zenith sold 5% of itself to LG Electronics as part of a technology-sharing agreement. With their analog line aging (the last major update to the line had been the System³ chassis in 1978), and the adoption of HDTV in the US decades away, Zenith's prospects were dim. Eventually, LG would raise its stake in Zenith to 55%, enough to assume a controlling interest. Zenith filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code
Chapter 11 is a chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which permits reorganization under the bankruptcy laws of the United States. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is available to every business, whether organized as a corporation or sole proprietorship, and to individuals, although it is most...

 in 1999, and in exchange for its debts, LG offered to buy the part of Zenith it didn't already own. During this era, some of Zenith's products were being rebadged as OEM
OEM
OEM means the original manufacturer of a component for a product, which may be resold by another company.OEM may also refer to:-Computing:* OEM font, or OEM-US, the original character set of the IBM PC, circa 1981...

 under the Admiral name.

Today, LG produces the Zenith DTT-900http://www.zenith.com/dtv/dtt900.html and Zenith DTT-901http://www.zenith.com/products/set-top-atsc-digital-to-analog-converter-box/DTT901/ ATSC digital TV converter box. LG also offers some Zenith branded plasma, LCD, and direct view televisions through selected retail outlets.

Shortwave radio



Among Zenith's early famous products are the 'Trans-Oceanic
Trans-Oceanic
The Trans-Oceanic was the name given to a series of portable radios produced from 1942 to 1981 by Zenith Radio. They were characterised by their heavy-duty, high-quality construction and their performance as shortwave receivers....

' and 'Royal' series of shortwave portable radios, which were in production from 1942 to 1981.

Subscription television


Zenith was the first company to experiment with subscription TV, launching their Phonevision
Phonevision
Phonevision was a project by Zenith Radio Company to create the world's first pay television system. It was developed and first launched in Chicago, followed by further trials in New York City and Hartford, Connecticut.- History :...

 concept on station KS2XBS (originally broadcasting on Channel 2 before the Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, created, Congressional statute , and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current President. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the...

 forced them to relinquish it to WBBM-TV
WBBM-TV
WBBM-TV, virtual channel 2 , is the CBS owned-and-operated television station in Chicago, Illinois. WBBM-TV's main studios and offices are located in The Loop section of Chicago, as part of the development at Block 37, and its transmitter is atop the Willis Tower.-History:WBBM-TV traces its history...

). Their experiment involved a descrambler box mounted on the TV set, and plugged into the telephone lead. When a preannounced broadcast was ready to begin, viewers would call an operator at Zenith who would send a signal with the telephone leads to unscramble the signal.

While the Theatre Owners of America claimed the concept was a flop, Zenith itself claimed the experiment was a success. As Phonevision broadcast films, it was seen as a potential competitor for traditional theatres. In spite of the fact that the three films initially available to the first 300 test households were more than two years old, about 18 percent of Phonevision viewers had seen them at the movies, and 92 percent of Phonevision households reported that they would prefer to see films at home.

The remote control


Zenith is, perhaps, best known for the first practical wireless TV remote control
Remote control
A remote control is a component of an electronics device, most commonly a television set, used for operating the television device wirelessly from a short line-of-sight distance.The remote control is usually contracted to remote...

, the Space Commander, developed in 1956.


The original TV remote control was a wired version, released in 1950, that soon attracted complaints about an unsightly length of cable from the viewer's chair to the TV set. Cmdr. Eugene F. McDonald
Eugene F. McDonald
Eugene F. McDonald founded Zenith Radio in 1921, a major American radio and electronics concern.He was born in 1886 in Syracuse, New York. His father was variously remembered as a storekeeper and insurance salesman. McDonald dropped out of high school at age 14 to help support the family.In 1904,...

, Zenith President and Founder, ordered his engineers to develop a wireless version, but the use of radio waves was soon discounted due to poor interference rejection inherent in 1950s radio receivers. The 1955 Flash-Matic remote system used a highly directional photo flash tube in the hand held unit that was aimed at sensitive photoreceivers in the four front corners of the TV cabinet. However, bright sunlight falling on the TV was found to activate the controls.

Lead Engineer Robert Adler
Robert Adler
Robert Adler was an Austrian-born American inventor who held numerous patents.-Achievements:Adler was born in Vienna in 1913. He earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Vienna in 1937.Following Austria's annexation by Nazi Germany in 1939, Dr. Adler, a Jew, left the country...

 then suggested that ultrasonic sound be used as a trigger mechanism. This was produced in the hand held unit by mechanically-struck aluminum rods of carefully constructed dimensions - a receiver in the TV responded to the different frequencies this action produced. Enough audible noise was produced by pressing the buttons that consumers began calling remote controls "clickers". The miniaturization of electronics meant that, eventually, the sounds were produced in the remote unit electronically but the operating principle remained in use until the 1980s, when it was superseded by the infra-red light system.

The photo at the right is a Space Commander 600, and was the remote control designed for use with their color television receivers. The Space Commander 600 was introduced in 1965 and this particular design was in use until the end of the 1972 model year. The Space Commander 600 remote control had an additional feature that sets the remote apart from all the others. That is, this remote control could also adjust color hues. By pressing the mute button on the remote, a relay would be activated at the TV in which to transfer the VHF motor drive tuner circuit to the motorized hue control. This would allow the user to adjust the hue in increments by depressing the channel up or down buttons on the remote control, and restore the TV to normal tuning operation when the mute button was pressed again (mute off).

Space phone


Some models of Zenith's System 3 line of televisions made from the late 70s to the early 90s had a feature referred to by Zenith as the Space Phone. It was basically a hands-free speakerphone
Speakerphone
A speakerphone is a telephone with a microphone and loudspeaker provided separately from those in the handset. This device allows multiple persons to participate in a conversation...

 built into the television set. It used the set's speaker and remote control, in addition to a built-in microphone. A Space Phone-enabled TV would connect to a phone jack (using a built-in phone cord), and placing a call was performed by pressing a button on the remote to activate the Space Phone (which would mute and take over the program audio going to the speaker). The phone number is dialed using the numeric keys on the remote, which then displays the digits being dialed on-screen (using the on-screen display features of the System 3 line). The user could then converse with another caller hands-free, much like a regular speakerphone.

Zoom


A feature that was included in some of Zenith's Chromacolor and later System 3 lines of sets from the late 70s was the zoom feature. This feature allowed for the image being displayed on the TV screen to be zoomed into, by overscanning the raster
Raster graphics
In computer graphics, a raster graphics image, or bitmap, is a data structure representing a generally rectangular grid of pixels, or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium...

 of the CRT
Cathode ray tube
The cathode ray tube is a vacuum tube containing an electron gun and a fluorescent screen used to view images. It has a means to accelerate and deflect the electron beam onto the fluorescent screen to create the images. The image may represent electrical waveforms , pictures , radar targets and...

 so that the middle of the image would be displayed.

The Porthole TV


In the late 1940s, Zenith entered the television market. These sets were all-round tube sets. The main feature was that the entire round screen was exposed. They were available in 12", 16" and 19". Later round-tube models had a switch that would show the picture in the 4:3 ratio, or have the entire round screen exposed. These sets are very desirable among TV collectors. Many porthole sets used metal-cone CRTs, which are now very hard to find. It is not uncommon for collectors to replace a bad metal-cone tube with an all-glass tube. Zenith porthole sets came in tabletop models, stand-alone consoles and TV/radio/phono combos.

Hand Wired Chassis


In the late 1950s, many electronic manufacturers, such as RCA
RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

, General Electric
General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

 and Admiral
Admiral (electrical appliances)
Admiral is an American appliance brand currently manufactured by Whirlpool Corporation. The brand is sold at The Home Depot.Ross Siragusa founded Continental Radio and Television Corp. as a maker of consumer electronics in Chicago during 1934. This later became Admiral Corp. Its annual sales were...

, were changing from hand-wired metal chassis in their radios and televisions to printed circuit board
Printed circuit board
A printed circuit board, or PCB, is used to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways, tracks or signal traces etched from copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. It is also referred to as printed wiring board or etched wiring...

s. While circuit boards save time and errors in assembly, they are not well suited for use in tube
Vacuum tube
In electronics, a vacuum tube, electron tube , or thermionic valve , reduced to simply "tube" or "valve" in everyday parlance, is a device that relies on the flow of electric current through a vacuum...

 equipment, in which high temperatures are generated that can break down boards, eventually leading the boards to crumble if one attempts to remove a tube. Zenith, and to a lesser extent Motorola
Motorola
Motorola, Inc. was an American multinational telecommunications company based in Schaumburg, Illinois, which was eventually divided into two independent public companies, Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions on January 4, 2011, after losing $4.3 billion from 2007 to 2009...

, avoided this problem by continuing to use hand wired chassis in all their tube equipment. Zenith kept circuit boards out of their televisions until the Chromacolor line in the early 1970s, and even then only used them with solid state components, mounting the four tubes used in the Chromacolor "4 tube hybrid" on the steel chassis. Zenith only moved to circuit boards in their radios when they moved to solid state in the late 1960s, and even Zenith's early transistor radios were completely hand wired with socketed transistors. Due to the use of this chassis construction (and the high quality components), Zenith televisions and radios of the 1950s-1970s found today are often still working well, needing little if any work to restore them to like-new operating condition.

External links