Ludwell Sibley

Reprinted with permission from the February 2014 issue of Tube Collector

Tube history is replete with little-known makers. This is particularly true of companies that sold tubes primarily in the military / government sector - operating mainly by bidding on supply contracts; they didn't need to build brand recognition by heavy advertising or distribution of literature. One of these firms, known today mostly by its surviving tubes, is Central Sales and Manufacturing Corporation. This comp-any was located in the then-rural town of Denville, Morris County, New Jersey, at 2 Richwood Place. It was perhaps 30 miles north of the tube making center at Newark. Its personnel may have been veterans of ITT Federal or Kuthe Laboratories down in Tubetown.

Morris County was something of an eastern Silicon Valley in the '30s-'60s. It contained the Boonton Radio Company, Ferris Instruments, Measurements Corporation, and Radio Frequency Laboratories. It's appropriate that it also hosted a tube company. The first known appearance of this vendor is a small display ad in Electronics from 1954. It offers 4C28 transmitting triodes, as used in the RT-15/APN-3 transponder for the SHORAN (SHort RAnge Navigation) precision-bombing system. (One of these Central tubes appears in the Al Jones Collection.) The November and December issues contain a small display ad, one-sixth page, boasting of the company's personnel and experience.

A full-page ad (Electronics, Sept. 1956) is more helpful. It reports a name change to Central Electronic Manufacturers Inc., as a division of the Nuclear Corporation of America (later Nucor). Tubes illustrated in the ad include gas switching tubes (with a drawing of what looks like a 1B40); power triodes (it's possibly a 6623), high-voltage diodes (with a big "something" looking like a graphite-anode 8008), and an ionization gauge (like the VG-1). The company also claimed to make test equipment, glass-fiber waveguide parts, and general equipment. It claimed to have been in business "many years," and to be the world's biggest maker (!) of ion gauges. “Regarding the change of company name, the Rockaway Record for March 8, 1956, stated matters as: CENTRAL SALES IS BOUGHT BY NUCLEAR CORP. Central Sales & Mfg. Corp, of Rich-wood Place, Denville has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Nuclear Corporation of America, Inc. a pioneer in commercial peacetime uses of atomic energy. No changes in personnel, policies or methods of Central Sales are planned. Lyle A. Backer, president of Union Hill, and James V. Cosman, vice president of Haledon, will continue in these posts. Central employs 60 persons in engineering and manufacturing of electron tubes for industrial communications, rectification and special purposes; leak detection and high vacuum systems; electronic test equipment; miniaturized transistor circuitry and micro-wave devices. Its sales have risen from $12,000 in 1947 to more than $500,000 last year. Nuclear Corp. is the successor to the old Reo Motors, Backer explained. It is now a combination of several small but active companies whose association bridges the gap between nucleonics and electronics. Its stock is listed on the American Stock Exchange; 408,000 shares were exchanged for Central’s assets and business, owned jointly by Backer and Cosman.” A classified advertisement" in the same paper, January 1, 1953, had read: "YOUNG MEN: To Train as Glass Workers On Electron Tubes. An Opportunity for High Paying Jobs for the Right Men. CENTRAL SALES AND MFG CO, Denville. N. J., RO9-1004."