EI Yugoslavia, the last European Tube Factory was Dismantled.
by Jac van de Walle
Updated: 11-Jul-2016

Actually I know not so much about this tube brand, but what I know I will tell here. I was given most of the information by somebody who lives near by, and we email sometimes about technical subjects. Really, in this business you meet some very interesting people.

The EI production had close relation the the Western tube manufacturers, mostly Philips, as they took over production for them, with the original machines, and later on purchased those machines to produce on their own behalf.

The sad end of this factory, from my personal observation is a result of bad marketing, but I never had a view behind the scenes. What I can say, there really was interest in the EI tubes as the factory was up and running, but just marketing was not done professional. It was a complete mystery for everybody how and where to buy the tubes. So you poke around at Ebay until you find something. By itself this could be part of a marketing strategy, but THEN this automatically means you need to focus on the tube reseller scene. Well, but I can tell you I was never approached in any way whatsoever by anybody at all. So I suppose their marketing was done the old Russian style of the 1960's. I do remember you could buy their tubes for some time via New Sensor, but if you understand just a little bit about marketing, it should be clear this was not very intelligent by EI. New Sensor has a reputation for brand picking, and eating companies. They are powerful, and large. That may be s nice when you begin a relationship with them, like a lot of low priced business you can get quickly. Just it becomes less nice when you have maneuvered yourself into dependence, and suddenly things work out not as you want. Then a the way out is difficult, because a Professional, as New Sensor sure is, has anticipated the times after a divorce. Like what happened to Svetlana, they lost the brand rights to their own name. I do not say something not-so-nice has happened, but I do see this as a possibility. I can say from my own experience, New Sensor has two faces. One to begin business with. The other when things go not so nice, and you want something from them. If EI would have me asked me for advise, I would have said they should have focused THEMSELF on the buyers's group New Sensor is serving. Like this, New Sensor would have stayed for EI what they were:A competitor with a higher cost structure as yourself, and if fact such a competitor is always good to have.

However, large dealers were never approached like "Do you want to re-sell our products". It seemed to me as if they had a factory address and a website, and thought that was all they needed.

I remember very well, how EI tubes were regarded low cost stuff by the crowd. In some last attempts the EI tubes ended on Ebay, in large quantities, but this is not a sales channel you should bet your life on. These Ebay resellers have no another strategy than build an Ebay shop, steal pictures from the internet, and try to sell cheaper than the others. I mean, they have no other option. So not a good concept if you ask me.

The EI "Gold Series" was a great idea, but again marketed poorly, or perhaps not at all. So that didn't work either. I saw those tubes flying around at Ebay, and they all tried to sell them cheaper than the others. In the end, EI got passed on the price pressure.

This is such a shame, EI had original Philips tools for ECC83. Nobody was appreciating this at all. It was regarded junk, prices on Ebay were 10 Euro, and the factory was starving. Of course now when it's all over, prices soar, and I see the EI "Elite" series ECC83 go for 50 Euro on Ebay, while I write this in 2015, and I think that's just a beginning.

So now all we are stuck with tubes like the New Sensor ECC83, which from the way they test, I have difficulties regarding those a real ECC83 at all. Or the JJ tubes, that already change their parameters while testing them.

So EI, this was the last good old European factory for ECC83, EL84, EL34, etc. Finally dismantled in 2014.

The EI Tools

Perhaps you remember the retro production of Western Electric 300B. This was done by an American person, who bought the machines from Western Electric. Other as many think, this was not real Western Electric production. This person, founded his own (little) company to produce those tubes under a Western Electric Brand licence. This person bought also some of the tools and machines from the EI factory, and founded a local company (in Europe) called Western Electric D.O.O. It means Mr. Jan Jorgo from JJ, and Mike Matthews from New Sensor, were either too late, or not interested for the price, of for the conditions.

Then, as I was told, the machines were not payed by the buyer, and in the end, were confiscated and sold as scrap iron. It is so silly, this seems to be the typical destiny of tube production machines. If this was really so, I can not say for 100% sure, but I have this from a reliable person who has more information, and I believe him.

 

This is a so called carousel, it's all automated, and tubes fall into a boxes at the end

This is a burn in bench for high voltage tubes. That explains the covers, and you can see the Anode connector also (the little glass towers)

1

This is the one and only, all classical burn-in bench, like they were used in all tube factories. The light bulbs are in series with the tubes, and serve many purposes at once. First, a light bulb is the most precise mechanical fuse that excists. There is no melting fuse that can do that. A light bulb is a wonderful a current limiter, as it has a constant current user characteristic. Meaning when you force more current trough it, as it tried to limit it becomes a fuse. So when you exceed the current it blows up. Second they're nice current indicators. Take a light bulb yourself, and try it. At 20% more current, you get almost twice the light. From one quick look at such a panel with 80 tubes, the operator can see immediately which ones behave not like the others. Such a tube gets thrown away, even before any other test is done. Also generically bad lots would show this to it the operator. So he can try to correct this.

The Panel Meter Cabinet. As you can see, it has a lock on it. I bet there was some old specialist babysitting this inventory. The copper wire might be repair wire for meter coils, and the gray wire might be resistor wire to calibrate the meter impedance after a repair.

An interesting detail, I see here is the little rubber hammer. Such a thing was used in tube factories to do microphonic tests. Look at the little oscilloscope on the right. I suppose that's how they viewed the microphonics. Also note the little
"sand clock" (It's under the letter "u" of www.jacmusic.com"

This was originally a Philips machine, made in Holland it writes.
Later is became property of "EI Fab.Rad. Cervi"

1

This is some kind of a high voltage power supply, by Philips. I recognize a high voltage probe. It is under the "c" of jacmusic. Note on the side, the yellow sticker of Western Electric.

 

Look here, you can see it was bought by Western Electric D.O.O. I would be interesting to know who really owns the brand rights for that in Europe. On the black labels I can read Dutch Text, from Philips, saying this is a main power supply.

An abused Tektronix 750. I wonder who got his hands on this. I can see the serial number is 005548

 

The EI factory tube stock

In the basement of the factory was the tube stock. Here are some of the pictures from November 2013, when this was sold. These were 250.000 tubes, mainly ECF80, ECF82, 6GH8A, EY500, EC900, many P-Types, all made in the seventies and eighties.

 

Selling off the old stock

 

GAME OVER - THE BUILDING IS EMPTY NOW - THIS MARBLE PLATE ON THE OUTSIDE WALL IS ALL WHAT IS LEFT, while today the tube industry is soaring. Allow me to say, the buying community made an error, not buying EI when they could for low prices. You will see. Wait until 2025, and EI tubes are worth a fortune. "The forgotten Telefunken from the East..." or whatever the explanation is going to be. I can already hear the shouting on Ebay.

Here is translation, maybe not perfect but i will try.

Good politics of our party and comrade Tito led us to the most revolutionary parole of our teacher of proletariat Marx.
FACTORIES TO THE WORKERS
on the day od 15.11.1950 we bring this factory to be governed by the working collective.
facility collective RR


Note, the factory was not called EI, but RR. What means RR? It means not Rollce Royce, but it means Radio Roentgen. They build the factory from the ashes. Here are some pictures of their first tubes. Pic1 - Pic2 - Pic3


Sad picture

 


How it ended.