View Full Version : Motorola's First Portable Color TV! The TS-924 chassis for 1969/70!


drh4683
01-24-2016, 01:36 PM
This is a rather unusual find here. It's Motorola's first generation portable color TV with a 14" CRT, built as the TS-924 chassis. This one was built in September, 1969 as a 1970 model. Captainmoody found the TV at suburban Detroit area estate sale last summer and I bought it off of him as he knew it was one I was in search of one for quite some time. Thanks also to Adam for picking it up for me.

From my research over the years, it appears that the TS-924 chassis was essentially a quick paced development by Motorola as they had to answer to market demand and the rest of the industry (particularly Admiral, RCA and Zenith) who had introduced their first small screen portable color TV's in 1967 and 1968. What makes Motorola's version somewhat unusual is that they outsourced the production of their first portable color sets to Japan. However, it's not your typical rebadged Japanese made set with an American name slapped on it like a Sears or Wards. This actually IS a real Motorola designed set from the ground up, cosmetically that is, and they spec'ed out the design to Sharp of Japan to produce it. Electronically, it appears to be a Sharp designed set. There are no US made parts though, it's entirely Japanese sourced. But looking on the outside, it shares many characteristics to that of the US made Motorola sets of the time. It's not entirely clear why they went to Japan, but I'm sure cost savings was the main factor and the US plants were not quite ready to produce portable color sets yet. Now when it came to the next size up, the 16" portable color sets, Motorola sourced those to Admiral, which was the TS-930 and those were made in Admiral's plant in Harvard, IL! Keep in mind that Motorola did eventually start making color portables in their US plants, but it was not until 1970 when they introduced the popular TS-929 hybrid chassis. In the late 60's, Motorola was working on development of the TS-929 as it was to be a universal chassis to fit all screen sizes in portable TV. The whole point of this was to simplify TV production and to lower component inventory at the factories. But as previously stated, they had to come up with something in the interim when the rest of the industry already had something portable on the market. So this TS-924 gets the credit as their first portable color set. To compliment this set, I also have original product introductory documents for the TS-924 that I received from an estate of a retired Motorola engineer a number of years ago.

This one is a nice surviving example. There is a TV shop tag on it from March, 1982. When I discussed the details of the set with Dwight, we believe it was taken in for a repair estimate at the time and the cost of repair was probably declined, the owner took it back and simply put the set on the shelf and never touched it again. It ended up being a simple restoration to bring it back, a few tubes needed replacement as did a few leaky film caps.

It's a heavy solid built set housed in a vinyl clad metal cabinet. The bottom of the set also features a removable metal service cover. It produces a very nice picture as well. And there's NO transistors in this set. It's loaded up full tubes in every direction as can be seen!

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drh4683
01-24-2016, 01:36 PM
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Tony V
01-24-2016, 02:35 PM
Nice! Love it!

jsowers
01-24-2016, 03:26 PM
That's a beautiful, rare set in fantastic shape! I'm surprised there are no dial lights on the numbers. The Zenith I have similar to this also has no dial light, but it has the numbers on the outside, on the knob, and not recessed in a window like that.

They did quite a nice job of sandwiching all the chassis components inside that small cabinet.

Olorin67
01-24-2016, 04:10 PM
An amazing find! I'm sure I'm not the only one on here who suspects you of having a time machine...
Dial lights are something they sometimes tried to save money on. I have a 1969 zenith that has no dial lights, and the numbers are just printed on to the knobs but most similar Zeniths I've seen have translucent numbers in the knobs that are illuminated from behind. Of course my parents bought the cheapest (they did buy a Zenith, at least!) version available, and our old set does not have the "Extras" that the other versions has, such as the automatic color control. Manufactures did that a lot back then, have a stripped down model to advertise a low price and get people into the store, then try to sell them something more profitable. And if they got a cheapskate in the store , at least they could sell them the loss leader model, and not lose a sale completely to the (by that time mostly foreign) competition. I think a lot of B&W consoles remained in the lineup for that reason also, not because there was really a demand anymore, but they could advertise a low price to get people into the stores. Then when people got into the store, try to get them to buy a color set once they found out the price they saw was for B&W. Chevy did the same thing a couple years ago, you could get an Aveo for $9,999... but the stripper model did not have A C. or an automatic. For that you had to get the next model up, for $15K. I saw an almost new one on a used car lot, someone had bought it, then later realized why it was so cheap and sold it for a car with AC.

maxm
01-24-2016, 04:19 PM
Very interesting set, thanks for posting it!

Sandy G
01-24-2016, 07:14 PM
I'm in Love...

Electronic M
01-24-2016, 07:49 PM
Cool set. It looks sorta like someone crossed a Sylvania, a Motorola, and a Sharp.

rca2000
01-24-2016, 08:09 PM
When I saw the metal cabinet...I could have SWORN that would be a cold set...NOW...I see it is HOT..with a BIG filament resistor in it.. And that is NOT a Moto design...looks very "sharpish" to me...

dishdude
01-24-2016, 09:34 PM
OP - love your finds and the great pictures you share of them. I get excited every time I see you get a new set!

dieseljeep
01-24-2016, 09:57 PM
When I saw the metal cabinet...I could have SWORN that would be a cold set...NOW...I see it is HOT..with a BIG filament resistor in it.. And that is NOT a Moto design...looks very "sharpish" to me...

I had mentioned that in another thread!
I have a Sams Field Service Guide, volume 2.
I shows a chassis layout #159, that is referred to as a Midland, Wards Airline and Truetone, as well as a Motorola TS 924. It does have a color killer transistor as well as 4 5GH8's.
I worked on, mostly the Midland version. The small capacitors were very poor quality. When new, they had a great picture, but seldom stood the test of time. :sigh:

captainmoody
01-24-2016, 10:01 PM
Glad you got the set ok..It looks great!

dieseljeep
01-24-2016, 11:21 PM
Glad you got the set ok..It looks great!

That set is a clean piece! It seems like you only get the best. :thmbsp:

ChrisW6ATV
01-25-2016, 01:31 AM
It's not entirely clear why they went to Japan, but I'm sure cost savings was the main factor and the US plants were not quite ready to produce portable color sets yet.
I just repaired a Motorola clock radio from 1963. It was made in USA, more or less perhaps, but the radio circuit board was definitely from Japan, with Motorola-branded tubes labeled "Japan" and a Motorola-branded filter capacitor with Japanese-looking print. So, Motorola had an early start with non-U.S. manufacturing besides transistor radios, it seems.

dieseljeep
01-25-2016, 10:47 AM
I just repaired a Motorola clock radio from 1963. It was made in USA, more or less perhaps, but the radio circuit board was definitely from Japan, with Motorola-branded tubes labeled "Japan" and a Motorola-branded filter capacitor with Japanese-looking print. So, Motorola had an early start with non-U.S. manufacturing besides transistor radios, it seems.
Motorola used Japanese tubes in their products since 1960. I little later, they started using more Japanese parts, tuning condensers, volume controls, output transformers and speakers.
Right around the time when the quality of Japanese products was being recognized as very high. :yes:

drh4683
01-25-2016, 09:16 PM
Yes, 1960 was about the turning point when Motorola started using some non US made components, especially in their radios. In fact, that 1961 Motorola 23" b/w table set I posted a couple weeks ago had no foreign components which was somewhat of a surprise to me. It must have been one of the last "All American" Motorola TV's aside from the occasional Euro made tubes sometimes found in domestic sets.

Also, I should have been more clear though regarding the TS-924 set. This is a Motorola design in terms of cabinet styling, but entirely built by Sharp. Sharp essentially only needed to adapt their chassis to it.

snelson903
01-26-2016, 01:05 AM
vary nice , would love to have it.

BigDavesTV
01-26-2016, 10:50 AM
Excellent set, very nice color picture on screen shots, congratulations on a rare set! So good to see it working!

dieseljeep
01-26-2016, 10:58 AM
Yes, 1960 was about the turning point when Motorola started using some non US made components, especially in their radios. In fact, that 1961 Motorola 23" b/w table set I posted a couple weeks ago had no foreign components which was somewhat of a surprise to me. It must have been one of the last "All American" Motorola TV's aside from the occasional Euro made tubes sometimes found in domestic sets.

Also, I should have been more clear though regarding the TS-924 set. This is a Motorola design in terms of cabinet styling, but entirely built by Sharp. Sharp essentially only needed to adapt their chassis to it.

The Motorola set is the better looking of the lot. The Sharp built sets like the Midlands and other private labels, were strictly rebadges and looked like the economy sets they were.
They were hot running sets and therefor more trouble prone. The Panasonics and the Toshibas of the day were also very hot running. :scratch2:

bgadow
01-27-2016, 09:37 PM
Sharp did an excellent job of building an "American" cabinet for that set. I'd have never known from a glance out the outside. Another super-clean one, too!