Business Focus: Vacuum Tubes, Inc.

Do you know what a vacuum tube is? It’s not the thing that sucks up dirt. Invented in 1904, the vacuum tube was used in radios, radars, and early televisions until it was replaced by transistors in the mid-20th century. Transistors were eventually replaced by microchips.

If you need a vintage vacuum tube, you’ve come to the right place at Vacuum Tubes, Inc. in SoDo! Jim Cross founded the company in Cincinnati in 1998 before moving to Orlando in 2002. He has more than a quarter of a million new, old tubes from over 3,000 different types.

Originally a chemist, Cross collected antique radios and needed vacuum tubes to pursue his hobby. “I was offered a large quantity of tubes and had the idea of ​​selling some and buying more antique radios,” Cross wrote. “Well, the whole thing was really booming, and here I am selling tubes instead of being a chemist.”

With over 30 years of experience, Cross has appraised large tube collections, served as a tube appraiser, written tube articles and was formerly President of the Tube Collectors Association. There are around 1,000 serious collectors worldwide, with many more collecting occasionally. Its largest customers are antique radio collectors, amateur radio operators, audiophiles and musicians, industrial customers and occasionally government customers.

Microwave ovens still use vacuum tubes, although his company doesn’t sell them. “Most people are surprised to learn that they still have a device in their home that uses a tube,” Cross said.

You can find the store at 1080 Sligh Blvd. visit, but call 407-481-9994 first.

Jim Cross sells vacuum tubes used in vintage radios, audio equipment and early televisions from his South Downtown warehouse. (LOGAN LAMPHERE)


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