RCA 6499 Radechon

3:57 pm Cleverness

At the electronics flea market I found a rather interesting-looking vacuum tube. It appears to be a CRT but with a metal cap at the end.

As it turns out, this device is a memory which could have been used in some old computers, storing around 16 kilobits. It could also have been used in radar systems for converting polar coordinate-based sweeps to raster sweeps (like a TV). The socket end contains an ordinary electron gun like the one found in a CRT, but the front end does not contain the usual phosphor screen. Instead, there is a 1mil thick sheet of mica with a fine grid of wires laid on top. On the other side of the mica there is a metal plate.
Here’s a closeup showing the metallic screen on the front. The mica underneath capacitively stores electrons that are laid down by the electron beam. This memory can store analog waveforms since higher voltages are represented by a higher density of electrons at a particular spot, and lower voltages correspond with a lower electron density.

Data for the tube is available from David Forbes.

Here are a couple of other sites with information:

Åke’s Tubedata

World Power Systems

Virtual Valve Museum

Cold War Infrastructure (A full-page RCA ad for the device)

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