View Full Version : The last dial-tune TV sets

08-06-2016, 01:19 PM
Does anyone know what year the last dial TVs were made? I remember my Sears catalog in the early 90s had one 19" dial set I think LXI brand.

Interestingly, my grandparents built their house and moved in early 1995. My grandmother's brother lived with them and she bought a TV for his room and wanted a basic set that he could work easily. I remember her saying they bought a dial TV set and it was so cheap that they returned it and got a remote set instead. It may have also had to do with them having cable TV, can't remember exactly. They wound up with a 19" Zenith remote for his room and a 25" Zenith remote for the living room. The 19" had the buttons on the right side of the screen instead of at the bottom which I thought was a little unusual. I don't recall what happened to the 19" but the 25" burned up one day and produced a terrible smell while my grandpa was watching the news one evening. I think it was replaced by a Philips Magnavox. Both of those Zeniths are long gone, they have had a few flat panel TVs since.

It seemed odd to me there were dial TV sets in 1995 because in 1993 was the mandate for closed caption ready units, unless these dial TVs could read closed caption. Or maybe the one she got was just a leftover one that had been sitting from prior years.

08-09-2016, 05:57 AM
I think the last dial tune color I remember seeing was around '91. There were some super cheap China made b&w sets into the mid 90's that were dial tuned, but they were exempt from CCD due to the screen size. I think CCD only applied to sets 13" and larger.

08-09-2016, 09:54 AM
I've seen some ultra-cheap knob tuned TV's as recent as late-'92-early '93; but, the CC mandate pretty much did away with them, except for the cheapie 12" B&W's that were available until the late '90's. These were exempt because the screen size was one inch below the 13" requirement for CC.

Up until the early 2000's, I was still selling used knob tuned TV's to older people, who were used to such a set and didn't want a pushbutton TV.

Robert Grant
08-09-2016, 10:36 AM
Dial TV sets were around even later if one thinks beyond the mechanical tuner with 13 distinct positions.

Millions of 5" B&W black and white battery portables were sold from the time they became dirt cheap in the early nineties, right up to the digital transition. These had the TV channels broken into three bands (VHF Low, VHF High, and UHF), which were tuned continuously, as a radio.

Amusingly, my mother gave my older brother one for Christmas in 2008 - less than two months before the digital transition date (though that was suspended to June, some stations did leave analog on the February date).

Extremely few people bothered getting a converter box for these. I did adapt a Zinwell converter to work on batteries. Everywhere I took it, people thought it was the strangest contraption they had ever seen!

08-09-2016, 07:50 PM
Early 2000's maybe?

Why so late? Like the post above I'm including 5" B&W TV's that you could buy at Walgreens

Last set with typical VHF and UHF dials with fine tuning? Early 90's is my guess.

08-09-2016, 09:03 PM
i have a ktv 13 inch set with dial tuners from 1997.

08-09-2016, 10:41 PM
You got a picture? I'd like to see one, see the styling of it.

08-10-2016, 12:02 AM
I remember seeing an odd looking 19" B&W set with knobs in a store around 1992. Other than the tuning knobs it looked like a typical 90s BPC set.

This was in a short lived shop that sold a lot of dodgy knock off products. I think the set was intended for 3rd world markets. I guess they hoped people would buy it because it was cheap without even asking if it as color.

I saw pictures of similar looking sets in a wholesaler/exporter catalog I found somewhere.

08-10-2016, 01:11 AM
Great question. I thought they went out in the mid to late 1980's when the cable ready digital tuner sets hit the sales floors.I used the knob sets on my cable to get the basic 2 to 13 channels on the cable up to the all digital cable few years ago.

08-10-2016, 04:34 PM
As far as major brands, I don't think I've seen a Sony knob tuned color set newer than about 1980 (they went with different forms of electronic tuning after that).

'85-'86 seemed to be about the end of the line for NAP (Magnavox, Philco, and Sylvania).

There were some Thomson (GE/RCA) sets as recent as '88-'89 that were knob tuned and I remember seeing one GE console from '88 that had a single knob varactor tuner.

Panasonic/Quasar had some know tuned models as recent as '88-'89.

As usual, Zenith seems to be the hold out and I've seen some knob-tuned sets from them as recent as '90-'91. That's not surprising because Zenith catered to a lot of old people and a lot of old people wanted knobs.

Between '90-'93, most of your newly made knob sets consisted of Sharp, Samsung, GoldStar, Emerson, KTV, Daewoo, and other low end brands (most of which were Korean or Chinese).