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Even as the market is poised to take a great leap forward to digital television, Carl Bocchino is pausing to cast a fond look back. Twenty years ago, a teenager Bocchino peered through the window of a TV store "in the middle of nowhere North Carolina" and fell for an obsolete Philco Predicta pushed in a corner. Now the owner of a TV-electronics shop in Hendersonville, N.C., he's making made-to-order replicas of the '50's oddity.

The Predicta line made a brief but memorable appearance in 1958. In an era when most televisions were encased in bulky rectangular cabinets, Philco designers took a cue from space-age aesthetics and came up with a model that separated the black and white picture tube from the receiver chassis, allowing the tube to swivel. Unfortunately the line, which included five models, were plagued by technical problems and competition from emerging color sets. After two years the design was shelved, and remaining models sold in bulk to hotel chains.

Bocchino is paying homage to the original by reproducing the Predicta Pedestal model right down to the plastic knobs and mahogany cabinets. The innards, however, are modern, using an RCA ColorTrak chassis and picture tube. Each set will be made to order in either 20 or 25-inch models, complete with modern amenities such as remote control, auto programming and stereo. (They sell for about $1,700 and $2,000, respectively (call 828-698-0062). And Bocchino says when digital TV is ready, his Predictas will take that step into the future.


The Predicta Pedestal


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