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November 2013 Retro Gaming Article


November 24, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The iconic 1950's Predicta TV was resurrected in 1997 bringing color to retro gaming

Retro gaming has ties to both old feelings and old technologies. Those childhood feelings still feel great and many of those technologies are still functioning. How can you not smile when you see the Color/B•W Switch on an Atari 2600? I remember my family getting our first color TV in the early 70s - a Zenith.

The iconic Predicta TV The iconic silhouette of the Predicta TVs of the 50's takes me back to a time when design was an important element in bringing products to market. Try to find a TV today that isn't a "black box". I'd love to have a Predicta!

Imagine attaching an Atari 2600 to such a beauty and playing Donkey Kong. That B•W Switch would certainly come in handy. Despite being released in the mid-late 1950's Philco's Predicta TVs were all black & white.

Philco had a long history and made those iconic cathedral-shaped wooden radios of the 1930s - then the TV industry blossomed. They began making TVs, but there was a lull in sales in the late 50s. However, even in the 50's black & white was still prominent. Philo Farnsworth invented cathode ray tube (CRT) television and first demonstrated it to the public in 1928, but it often takes an outside influence to push to the next level. The Space Age was dawning with the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union - the world's first satellite orbiting Earth.

Inspired by the Space Age the Philco Predicta TV set was introduced for the 1958 model year. All sorts of products were beginning to adopt a futuristic look, but the Predicta's took it to a phenomenal level. However, their models may have been too futuristic for many consumers of the era. Sales lagged and many PredictaTVs were produced for the Holiday Inn hotel chain. Lack of a color model finally sent Philco into bankruptcy.

New Predicta TVs from Telstar

Back to the future with retro-style TVs - Predicta TV These TVs from the 50's are highly collectable, but wouldn't you like a shiny new color Predicta? Set that Atari 2600 switch back to "Color"!

Dave Riedel and Mike Lipscomb thought the same thing and created Riedel Electronics/Telstar LLC. Under this company they began hand-making Predicta TVs between 1997 and ~2008 (no connection to Coleco Telstar). According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Telstar's 8 different Predicta models were based on the original sets manufactured by Philco in Philadelphia from 1958 to 1962 - including the dramatic separation of the TV screen from the console.

Their clients ranged from collectors to celebrities, who would pay between $1,100 and $3,300. The manufacturing process was very manual enabling only about 100 sets to be produced per year. Do the math - I assume they were able to branch out and boost production. There are many citations of the high interest in brand new color-capable Predicta TVs. Interest was high primarily die to word-f-mouth and the fact that this iconic beauty was available in many color configurations.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Connection

Main image on Telstar's Predicta TV website showing the models If that weren't enough, the retro-ness of this tale goes a bit farther, but with less electronic focus. These 2 friends hand-crafted these amazing TVs under a company called Riedel Electronics/Telstar. There is still a Riedel Electronics in the area with the same phone number as found on some of the Predicta literature.

The Riedel Electronics address that brings on another dose of retro. There is mention of Riedel living in a known Frank Lloyd Wright house. Riedel Electronics has the same address as a home designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Another site has an interior shot of the house and there's a Predicta TV in the living room!

Frank Lloyd Wright designed house Predicta TVs - Meteor and Chalet models

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