A pocket-sized TV is not a big deal today. But in 1983, cramming a CRT into your pocket was quite a feat. Clive Sinclair’s TV80 or FTV1 did it with a very unique CRT and [Dubious Engineering] has a teardown video to show us how it was done.
A conventional CRT has an electron gun behind the screen which is why monitors that use them are typically pretty thick. The TV80’s tube has the electron gun to the side to save space. It also uses a fresnel lens to enlarge the tiny image.
The device was not successful in the market since it cost about 4 million pounds to develop and sold around 15,000 units. The advent of the LCD killed off these kinds of devices, altogether.
The CRT is a marvel and doesn’t look like a normal CRT. The TV converts its 5V input to about 20KV and uses it to shoot and deflect electrons parallel to the screen’s surface. While a normal CRT has the electrons hit the screen from the rear, the TV80 uses an electrode on the front screen to push the electrons down to the front of the imaging surface. A voltage multiplier generates several high voltages for the CRT.
There is only one IC in the entire device, apparently. Hard to imagine these days where there are almost no discrete components in anything anymore.
Another place to find tiny CRTs is in old camcorder viewfinders. We were sad to see Sir Clive Sinclair passed away recently. While the TV might not have been a success, it was certainly creative and innovative.