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Thread: Discovered I have some "Vintage" LEDs

  1. #1
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    Default Discovered I have some "Vintage" LEDs

    Decided it was time to build a dingus to add a speaker and a full set of power/Capslock/Numlock indicators to my favorite hack-puter. For the LEDs I dipped into some grab bags ($1.95 for 100) I picked up last year to make a nice red-yellow-green traffic light. As it turns out there may be something mildly special about the red LEDs.

    As you can see in these pictures the red LED is different from the yellow and green ones; it's made out of much more transparent plastic and has a much narrower effective viewing angle and is otherwise dimmer because the light is basically a little red point source inside and hardly diffused at all.

    LEDS_front.jpgLEDS_side.jpg

    The bag they came in had a "Litronix" label on it:

    litronix_bag.jpg

    Looking it up it appears the main thing Litronix is remembered for was being an early manufacturer of LED watches and pocket calculators; seems like they dropped out of that business and concentrated solely on LED manufacturing after about 1975? Bitsavers has a catalog from 1982 so they lasted at least that long, but I am pretty curious when they churned out these seemingly primitive examples. (Another fragment of a datasheet I found shows they were selling all-plastic LEDs like this in the first half of the 1970's.) It definitely *looks* very 1970s.

    Anyway, kind of a fun discovery. Totally worth the two cents each.
    My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs

  2. #2
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    I remember watching an episode of Frans Lab about vintage LEDs. Was pretty informative and interesting. I remember in the early 80s there was amber yellow, red and green and that was all.

  3. #3

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    Red LEDs were the first ones, and the only ones for quite a while.

    I remember Tandy selling standard-looking 7-segment displays, but instead of being a LED it had tiny light-globe filaments.

    And of course I recall when there were no LEDs in commercial use, all indications were done by light globes, and even some by valves (electron tubes).

  4. #4
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    I may still have one of my old Monsanto LEDs. It's not very bright, IIRC.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by VERAULT View Post
    I remember watching an episode of Frans Lab about vintage LEDs.
    I'll have to look that one up.

    A minor oddity I drag out every year is a fairly early string of LED Xmas lights that only has the classic red, yellow, and green colors and is very dim by modern standards. I can't remember when I bought it but it's around 20 years old. (The LED strings were normally ridiculously expensive at the time, but I picked it up deeply discounted from January leftovers.) It's a very long string, big enough to cover our 4-foot fake tree single-handedly, and the warm glow looks nice with the lights out so I've been loathe to switch to something else. Modern strings are fine outside but inside they're bright enough to be obnoxious.

    Part of the reason I picked up the grab bags was a vague idea of soldering them together into something ornamental, but these red Litronix LEDs might be a little *too* subtle for that.
    My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs

  6. #6

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    I'm always looking for one of the LEDs in the gold body. I have one dim one on my SIM4-01 setup.
    Dwight

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