The early days of television in Romania.
Television emerged in Romania on the last day of 1956 but experiments for its introduction had started a year before. There were very few TV sets in Romania at the time, most of which were imported from the Soviet Union at prices that most Romanians could not afford. The most popular Soviet brands for TV-sets were Temp, Rekord and Rubin. This was a time of maximum Soviet influence in Romania, following the installation of the communist regime in March 1945.
The Romanian production of TV sets started in 1961. Just like any new product, the Romanian telly production was based on a more advanced model. The Romanian economy of the day was entirely controlled by the state, which took the most important decisions in terms of investment and opening new companies and production lines.
Against this background, in 1960, the Baicului Electronic Plant was opened in eastern Bucharest, dealing in the production of TV sets. It was the only one of this kind in the country. In 1962 though, the Baneasa Radio Parts and Semiconductors Enterprise was set up, supplying electronic components for radio and TV sets. As the tendency to escape the Soviet monopoly had gradually become the state’s economic policy, Romania turned towards France, its traditional ally, to purchase licences for the manufacturing of TVs. The same happened with car models Dacia and Olcit and with the Felix computer
However, deciding on what model to copy wasn’t that easy. An important competitor of the French TV version was a Japanese model preferred by Romanian specialists for its higher technical quality. The French model won eventually, due to political affinities and a more generous offer.
The first TV set made in Romania was a V.S. 43-611 model, using a C.S.F.-Thompson licence. It was a tube-based TV, with a metal box and isolation. The next generation of TV sets had a wooden or plywood box, to avoid the risk of electrocution due to power leakage or contact between the steel frame and the network cable. The screen measured 43 cm diagonally. The cathode-ray tube was to be made in Romania, based on licences purchased from the USA and the then Federal Republic of Germany.
In 1961, Romania was making 15,000 TV sets and the whole enterprise was a success. Improvements were made to increase the size of the screen from 43 to 54 cm. The Azur and Tonita TV sets were manufactured based on a French model. The second generation of Romanian TV sets, called National, was based on a Japanese model.
The local production of TV sets grew with the expansion of TV programmes and broadcasting time. The Pipera Electronics Enterprise was also founded, which later increased its production following the growing demand. Local brands as Dacia, Miraj, Opera, Lux competed with stronger but more expensive foreign brands like Sony, Technics, Hitachi and Philips.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, a new generation of TV sets using integrated circuits was made in Romania with some of the parts designed in Romania, while others, such as the screen, being manufactured under a foreign licence. Such TV brands as Diamant, Olt and the Sport portable TV set were very popular on a controlled market where they had little competition. The Olt TV set even had an integrated games option.
In the late 1980s, Romania started making its first colour TV sets, also using a foreign licence. Telecolor, Cromatic and Elcrom are some of the earliest brands. After 1989, Electronica plant started manufacturing the Nei brand, a colour TV of Romanian make using south-Korean technology.