Predicta the World’s First Swivel Screen TV

Design Classic – Influential and important design

Predicta Television

  • Designer: Severin Jonassen and Richard Whipple
  • Manufacturer: Philco

The Philco electronics firm was founded in the 1890s in Philadelphia. It became a leading manufacturer of audio products, particularly low-priced radios. 

Advertised as the “world’s first swivel screen television,” Philco’s Predicta was the first American model to break away from the standard cabinet format of a box with a window in it—a bold step for such a corporation. However, a similar idea had already been produced in Italy by Phonola (no. 249) and in France by Teleavia. 

Design Specifications

The viewing screen and tube were wholly encased in a two-toned plastic capsule supported on a brass base. It was made to swivel on the top of a table- or pedestal-model chassis for viewing from any direction; a third version with the screen separated from the chassis and speaker could be placed anywhere, connected only by a flat, twenty-five-foot- long cable. 

Philco’s design depended on a recently introduced flattened picture tube, which the company’s engineers adapted further by shortening the neck, thereby reducing the protrusion at the back of the separated tube and minimizing its bulk as much as possible. 

Influenced by ‘Space Race’

The Predicta’s modern casing was an intentional departure from the traditional stationary designs that mimicked the furniture-like radio receivers of the early 20th century. The futuristic aesthetic was influenced by an interest in space-age technology, prompted by Russia’s Sputnik launch in 1957. Philco’s advertisements for Predicta touted a “TV Today From the World of Tomorrow!” The limited flexibility this design promised was soon made obsolete by introducing small, portable models (no. 273).

1958 Philco Predicta Television Commercial

Product Brochure (Original)

Philco Predicta Television Brochure screenshot


Philco Predicta T-Shirt – For Sale ❤️

Sources

Hiesinger, K. B., & Marcus, G. H. (1995). Landmarks of twentieth-century design: an illustrated handbook. Abbeville Press. Retrieved from https://amzn.to/3nTJmEE

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