Uncle Alberts History
A common question I'm always asked; Uncle Albert's, from the Paul McCartney song? Kinda, I'm a pretty big Beatle fan, clever song, catchy name. Albert was my grandfather's name, Albert DeVere Silva, or Duke, as he was known. Duke Silva was an early radio pioneer; he started in electronics at the beginning.
During World War I, he was stationed in Paris, with the Signal Corps. He was in charge of designing the first tank radios.
Another Signal Corp engineer stationed in the Paris lab was Edwin Armstrong. Armstrong developed the "superheterodyne" radio while in Paris. The basis for AM radio. Duke brought the "Armstrong amplifier" back to the states at the end of the war. In 1933 Edwin Armstrong invented FM radio.
After the war Duke went to work for The Atwater Kent Radio Company, in Philadelphia. As Chief Engineer, Duke was granted 13 patents, 11 pertaining to radio amplifiers.
Duke at the Atwater Kent plant - 1927
Prior to 1924, radios had three tuning dials; one of his patents was the circuit that tied the three dials in to one. In 1934 his patent for the mechanic rectifie was issued. The rectifier took the car battery's six-volt supply and stepped it up to 140 volts. These are still being made today for the antique car market. The most important patent he had was the "field winding" speaker. Pretty much how all-audio speakers worked until the advent of "Alnico", a Japanese invention, at the end of W.W.II. The coil not only created the magnetic property required to make the speaker work; it was in the negative bias supply, which also acted as a choke to filter the power supply.
He went to work for Noblitt-Sparks (Arvin) in Columbus, Indiana in 1937. He headed up their radio division; the first set he designed was the Model 40 "Mighty Mite". The Model 40 was a TRF radio with no power transformer. To help keep cost down the radio cabinets were stamped out of metal, an idea Duke borrowed from Atwater Kent. Arvin was the largest muffler manufacturer in the country; stamping metal was an easy and inexpensive task.
These sets sold for $6.95, Arvin sold over 100,000 "Mighty Mites" in 1938.
Duke started Columbus Process in 1946, to make radio parts for other companies. By 1950 CP Electronics was the largest OEM transformer house in the country.
This 1952Picture was used for the Uncle Albert's Logo
They made transformers for every major Radio/Television Company; Magnavox, Crosley , Emerson, Philco and RCA. They shipped over 6 million transformers in 1952! After Duke passed away in February of 1954, my Dad, Don Silva, with the help of his two brothers, Dev and LeRoy took over C.P. Electronics.
The RCA Award for zero defects - 1966
Sears had been buying transformers for some of the audio related products they produced. In the late 50's they commissioned CP to design several guitar amplifiers for their "Silvertone" line. Don designed most of those amps, the "Twin Twelve", and the 1448 guitar case amp were two of their most popular models. C.P. Electronics continued to produce transformer until 1970.
1960 - Silvertone prototype
After CP shut down, Don started the DS company; they produced starter solenoids for Cummins Engines, and electronic speed controls for Reliance electric motors. In 1983 he started a consulting firm with his brother LeRoy. Don was issued his second patent in 1989, a computer power supply. (His first patent was a multi-tap transformer issued in 1966) He retired in 1990, and passed away in 1996.
Dev and Don at the DS Company - 1980
I got my first "Electronic" job at 15, repairing tube type TVs, at Voeltz electronics, in Columbus.
Helping my dad rewire a lamp - 1972
I went to work for the DS company my sophomore year, repairing speed controls, machining parts, and making deliveries. After graduation, my high school band hit the road. That lasted almost ten years! We played club dates all over the country.
I went to work for a production company in the summer of 1988, doing repairs and mixing audio. In the two years I was there, I did have the pleasure of mixing sound for BB King, Charlie Daniels, Jr. Wells, and more country acts then I can remember.
Me repairing a broken dimmer pack on break - 1984
I started Uncle Albert's in the spring of 1990, part time repairing amps for some of the acts I was mixing. In 1994, with my partner Tom Everett, we opened a 5000 square foot shop on the East Side of Indianapolis. Tom did all of the guitar repairs with his son T.J., and I did all of the amplifier repairs. We also sold guitars and amplifiers. Tom sadly passed away in 2001. His son T.J. continues to do guitar repairs. I was issued my first patent in 1999; it was for a Wireless Water detection system. Aside from repairing, I custom build amplifiers, and electronic guitar "gadgets".
My second patent was just granted this summer, for the Del Ray amplifier.
Having grown up around vacuum tubes, transformers, and more wire than you've ever seen, I have always had a knack for electronics. As a guitar player, vacuum tube electronics have always fascinated me.
Uncle Albert's, what a song!