EI Yugoslavia, the last European Tube Factory was Dismantled.
Actually I know not so much about this tube brand, but what I know I will tell here. I was given most of the information by somebody who lives near by, and we email sometimes about technical subjects. Really, in this business you meet some very interesting people.
The EI production had close relation the the Western tube manufacturers, mostly Philips, as they took over production for them, with the original machines, and later on purchased those machines to produce on their own behalf.
The sad end of this factory, from my personal observation is a result of bad marketing, but I never had a view behind the scenes. What I can say, there really was interest in the EI tubes as the factory was up and running, but just marketing was not done professional. It was a complete mystery for everybody how and where to buy the tubes. So you poke around at Ebay until you find something. By itself this could be part of a marketing strategy, but THEN this automatically means you need to focus on the tube reseller scene. Well, but I can tell you I was never approached in any way whatsoever by anybody at all. So I suppose their marketing was done the old Russian style of the 1960's. I do remember you could buy their tubes for some time via New Sensor, but if you understand just a little bit about marketing, it should be clear this was not very intelligent by EI. New Sensor has a reputation for brand picking, and eating companies. They are powerful, and large. That may be s nice when you begin a relationship with them, like a lot of low priced business you can get quickly. Just it becomes less nice when you have maneuvered yourself into dependence, and suddenly things work out not as you want. Then a the way out is difficult, because a Professional, as New Sensor sure is, has anticipated the times after a divorce. Like what happened to Svetlana, they lost the brand rights to their own name. I do not say something not-so-nice has happened, but I do see this as a possibility. I can say from my own experience, New Sensor has two faces. One to begin business with. The other when things go not so nice, and you want something from them. If EI would have me asked me for advise, I would have said they should have focused THEMSELF on the buyers's group New Sensor is serving. Like this, New Sensor would have stayed for EI what they were:A competitor with a higher cost structure as yourself, and if fact such a competitor is always good to have.
However, large dealers were never approached like "Do you want to re-sell our products". It seemed to me as if they had a factory address and a website, and thought that was all they needed.
I remember very well, how EI tubes were regarded low cost stuff by the crowd. In some last attempts the EI tubes ended on Ebay, in large quantities, but this is not a sales channel you should bet your life on. These Ebay resellers have no another strategy than build an Ebay shop, steal pictures from the internet, and try to sell cheaper than the others. I mean, they have no other option. So not a good concept if you ask me.
The EI "Gold Series" was a great idea, but again marketed poorly, or perhaps not at all. So that didn't work either. I saw those tubes flying around at Ebay, and they all tried to sell them cheaper than the others. In the end, EI got passed on the price pressure.
This is such a shame, EI had original Philips tools for ECC83. Nobody was appreciating this at all. It was regarded junk, prices on Ebay were 10 Euro, and the factory was starving. Of course now when it's all over, prices soar, and I see the EI "Elite" series ECC83 go for 50 Euro on Ebay, while I write this in 2015, and I think that's just a beginning.
So now all we are stuck with tubes like the New Sensor ECC83, which from the way they test, I have difficulties regarding those a real ECC83 at all. Or the JJ tubes, that already change their parameters while testing them.
So EI, this was the last good old European factory for ECC83, EL84, EL34, etc. Finally dismantled in 2014.
The EI Tools
Perhaps you remember the retro production of Western Electric 300B. This was done by an American person, who bought the machines from Western Electric. Other as many think, this was not real Western Electric production. This person, founded his own (little) company to produce those tubes under a Western Electric Brand licence. This person bought also some of the tools and machines from the EI factory, and founded a local company (in Europe) called Western Electric D.O.O. It means Mr. Jan Jorgo from JJ, and Mike Matthews from New Sensor, were either too late, or not interested for the price, of for the conditions.
Then, as I was told, the machines were not payed by the buyer, and in the end, were confiscated and sold as scrap iron. It is so silly, this seems to be the typical destiny of tube production machines. If this was really so, I can not say for 100% sure, but I have this from a reliable person who has more information, and I believe him.
The EI factory tube stock
In the basement of the factory was the tube stock. Here are some of the pictures from November 2013, when this was sold. These were 250.000 tubes, mainly ECF80, ECF82, 6GH8A, EY500, EC900, many P-Types, all made in the seventies and eighties.
Selling off the old stock