Photo dump: Field trip to VintageTEK museum

a few weeks ago, @andrei_jay and i had the pleasure of visiting VintageTEK Museum, a museum of vintage Tektronix and related equipment, along with a group of our friends in the Portland Oregon area. one of the volunteers there gave us a pretty in-depth tour of the devices they had on display, and i took a bunch of photos. i’ll share those below along with my best recollection of info about them. (they do also have photo tours, which include some of the same things as mine and more, on their site linked above!)

it was pretty exciting to see so many devices from different eras in CRT technology still being maintained and kept in functional condition. the back room of vintageTEK is dedicated to workbenches for repair projects, storage of manuals and technical documentation, and many shelves of spare & nonfunctional devices to be restored later or used for parts.

they have a bunch of cool old educational videos, as well as some scope repair videos, on their youtube!

ok, now on to what we saw there…

the main room with tables upon tables of tektronix scopes. the second from the left has a version of the oscilloscope graphic artist circuit on display.

the interior circuitry of one of the oldest scopes, which instead of a flat pcb, the circuitry is soldered together into a sort of 3d scaffold

1974 - R7912 Transient Digitizer. the tube sitting on top of the rack is a kind of stroke to raster conversion tube, where one side is a tube that draws a scope trace, and the other side is a vidicon that picks up the resulting trace as a raster image. the device has a knob so you can adjust how thick the trace appears, and the level of the “virtual graticule” (including down to off).

1948 - Type 511 Oscilloscope - i believe they said this was the first scope Tektronix put on the market?

7J20/J20 Rapid Scan Spectrometer - unfortunately the scope is just showing a flat line in my photo, but when you put a light in front of the black circle in the box at left, the scope shows a graph of the amount of photons the light is emitting across the visible spectrum. so for example incandescent bulbs show a pretty smooth curve that’s higher on the red side, while older fluorescent bulbs show spikes at various frequencies (only appearing white to the naked eye due to combining opposite colors).

1976 - 1502 Time Domain Reflector / Cable Tester - plug one end of a long cable into this device, and by reflecting signals off the far end, it can tell you the length of the conducting wire, either measuring cable length or distance to a discontinuity/fault. a version of this type of device was used by power companies to find where a power line needed to be repaired.

a display cabinet of different tubes from over the years!

1975 - 4051 Graphic System - an early desktop computer with graphic capabilities, displaying a character set from a gothic blackletter style font. the display in this thing is a storage CRT tube, meaning that the image is drawn sequentially by a beam onto a pixelated grid and then persists on the screen until it is “refreshed.” this was the first time i saw a working storage tube display and it was really cool.

Tektronix 4016-1 graphics terminal - c.1980 - this one also uses a storage tube for the display, but it’s a massive 25 inch one with 4096×3120 viewable pixels!

a print made with an early stencil-based printing process, i don’t think Tektronix stayed in the printer business for long

an early but still working PDP computer! sadly we didn’t get to see this one turned on.

etem 101 electron scanning microscope prototype. i guess this project was deemed commercially nonviable so it was never put into production

circuit mandala, aka semiconductor test board - shaped like a circle to ensure that the tests runs were perfectly simultaneous. i am gonna try to vectorize this and print it as a shirt at some point :slight_smile:

that’s pretty much it, hope you find this interesting and definitely recommend stopping by this place if you’re in the portland area!


God damn that 4051 looks cool. Great photos!