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1966 - supersensitive cat's eye viewing device able to record and reproduce images clearly in near-total darkness


CD 1967046 E&MP62.002

Image Converter Tubes

September 2, 1966


A supersensitive "cat's eye" viewing device able to record and reproduce images clearly in near-total darkness without the use of infra-red rays has been developed by Toshiba (Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd.), Japan's leading electrical and electronic products manufacturer.

Using the device, an ordinary vidicon television camera can televise scenes in extremely dim light, and can show a human face clearly even when available light is less than one percent of the illumination provided by a full moon.

The photosensitive surface of the tube is focused on a dimly-lit object in the darkness.

The image is reproduced clearly and brightly on a fluorescent plate at the other end, following intense amplification by four electron-multiplying thin sheets of electrodes.

Each of the amplifying sheets, only 1/10,000 millimeter in thickness, is placed at intervals inside the vacuum tube.

The new device, the first of its type in Japan, was developed at Toshiba's Central Research Laboratory at Kawasaki, Japan, Asia's largest privately-owned industrial research [sic] cneter.

The secret apparatus lies in the use of a "multistage image tube" which is said to intensify original light up to 200,000 times or more.

The tube was originally developed for radiation studies, electron microscope studies, astronomy, medical X-ray, etc. Toshiba's tubes are already in use in some Japanese laboratories.

The company believes that the tube can be applied to many other fields, including television, photography, and various types of night surveillance.

additional text found1966 - additional information, verified by Dr. Miyashiro of Central Research Lab - on multi-stage image device.

July 1, 1966

Additional information, verified by Dr. Miyashiro of Central Research Lab. On multi-stage image device.

1. Overall dimensions of multi-stage image tube:

  • Length: 250 mm (app. 10 inches)
  • Diameter: 100 mm (app. 4 inches)
  • Tube weight: app. 2 kg. (app. 4 1/2 lbs)
  • Diameter of tube picture screen: app 1 inch

2. Total weight of tube plus all equipment needed to operate the multi-stage image tube: 100 kg (200 lbs). However, this is tentative since they are not yet designed for marketing.

3. Names of other components needed to operate the tube:

  • 1. Potential divider
  • 2. High Voltage generator
  • 3. Focus current generator
  • 4. Power source: 100 volts, 50/60 cycles
  • 5. How much warm-up time of the tube is required before it can be used?

  • Not necessary to warm-up the tube. The tube warms up immediately. However, rather than switch in to high voltage immediately, it is preferable to gradually raise the voltage, beginning at a low voltage.
  • 6. Maximum tube life is not known.
  • 7. The tube must be replaced, rather than repaired, in the event of a breakdown. But this is still indefinite.
  • 8. Doctors Miyashiro and Hasegawa were developers of the multi-stage image tube, and not the inventors. The principle of such a tube has been known since about 1930.

Image produced by multi-stage image tube can be ---

  • (1) seen by the naked eye
  • (2) Photographed with a still or movie camera.
  • (3) Televised with a TV camera.

    • In modern physics:

      a) Observation of radiation. b) Observation of cosmic rays. c) For use in conjunction with an elementary-particle accelerator. d) Observation of plasma in nuclear fusion.

    • In microscopy: For clearer visualization of dark images produced by an ion or electron microscope.

    • In crystallography: Observation of X-rays and electron diffraction patterns.

    • Other areas of use are: general spectroscopy, astronomy, biology, medical roentgenology.

    Some non-academic practical applications include devices for "seeing" in darkness such as night surveillance devices, burglar detectors, etc.

    A DYNODE is an electrode whose primary function is to supply secondary electron emission in a phototube or, generally, in an electron tube.

Original Caption by Science Service

National Museum of American History


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