Fabulous '50's TV sets get new life 6A\

TIMES/NEWS Serving the Blue Ridge Since 1881* Henderson
Hendersonville, NC

Man revives fifties TV design

Technician imitates Philco Predicta style

By Jim Woolridge
Times News Staff Writer

It's hard to let go of 1950's legends, like Marilyn and Elvis.

Now a Hendersonville electronics technician is keeping alive a television set that was introduced in 1958.

Carl Bocchino produces the Philco Predicta, with state-of-the-arts components, for TV buffs and collectors. He makes them to order at CB Electronics located on Spartanburg Hwy.

Bocchino was driving near Edneyville in 1976 when he stopped at John's Young's TV shop and saw one of the unique Predictas gathering dust in a corner.

The older set with a swivel picture tube on top was one he had heard about but given up on ever seeing first hand. Made by Philco, its circuits were in a base cabinet, allowing the top mounted tube to be rotated.

The black-and-white model was first manufactured in 1958, just before color sets began to appear. The design was shelved after two years, shortly before Philco was sold to the Ford Motor Co.

The set quickly acquired nicknames, like "the gas pump" and "Cyclops." It was created by Severin Johassen and Catherine Winkler, one of the few women working in Philco's design department during the 1950's. She's also credited with designing the sailing-ship logo for Old Spice shaving lotion.

In spite of the popular swivel tubes, the last Predictas were liquidated by Philco in block sales to motel chains.

Bocchino found one in 1995 and restored it in his Hendersonville shop. People liked it and asked him to build new ones. In continuing updates of the components, he now uses RCA's ColorTrak chassis and picture tube.

He also offers remote control, on-screen displays of time and channel, closed captions, and more. The mahogany cabinets are hand crafted by Ken Johnson at the Woodshop.

When digital broadcasting becomes widespread in the next few years, the components will be updated again, he said.

The sets sell at $1,699 for a 25-inch tube and $1,445 for a 20-inch model.

Bocchino, 37 is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His family came to the Lake Lure area for long summer vacations each year. He bought 20 acres in 1988 and started building a log cabin.

He moved from Florida in 1995 and opened his Hendersonville shop the same year.