EI Yugoslavia, a European Tube Factory was dismantled from 2014 to 2016.

by Jac van de Walle

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 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. 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 idea of by EI. New Sensor has bad a reputation for brand picking, and eating companies. They are powerful and large. That may be nice when you begin a relationship with them, like a lot of low priced business you can get quickly. Just it becomes dangerous when you have maneuvered yourself into dependence, and suddenly they change the rules. Then the way out is difficult, because a Professional, as New Sensor sure is, has anticipated this. So thought about the divorce before the marriage. Like as it happened to Svetlana, one of the final, last really great tube companies in Petersburg, Russia. They lost the brand rights to their own name. I can say from my own experience, New Sensor has two faces. One to begin business with when things work out good. The other when things go wrong, and you want something from them.

I remember very well, how EI tubes were regarded low cost stuff by the crowd. In some last attempts to do business, EI tubes ended on Ebay, in large quantities, but this is not a sales channel you should bet your life on. These Ebay re sellers have no another strategy than 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 good idea, but poorly marketed, or perhaps not at all. I remember I wanted to buy those EL84, and it was fully unclear how to buy it. So it didn't work for me, and I suppose I was not the only one, running against the wall. I remember every fool on Ebay was trying to sell them cheaper than the others. That can never work.

In the end I got hold of 100 pcs of the normal EU EL84. (The "gold" was only the printing anyway) . But they do not sell like pancakes. That is because they are not really unavailable yet. Because people write me: Oh....well... EI.....Mmmm... Do you have original Philips also? When I say no, they do not even answer. No problem folks... we wait a few years, and you will see I was right.

This whole situation was a shame, EI used original Philips tools for EL84 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 cheap new made tubes like the New Sensor ECC83, which from the way they test, are a but strange. Or the JJ tubes, that already begin to change their parameters by holding them near to a tube tester.

So EI, this was the last good old European factory for ECC83, EL84, EL34, etc.

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. I was told, he 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 some part of the lot was sold as scrap iron, to pay the storage costs. It is so silly, this seems to be the typical destiny of tube production machines. If this was really so, I cannot say for 100% sure, but I have this from a reliable person who has more information, and I believe him.

This is a so called carousel, it's all automated, and tubes fall into a boxes at the end


This is a burn in bench for high voltage tubes. That explains the covers, and you can see the Anode connector also (the little glass towers)


This is the one and only, all classical burn-in bench, like they were used in all tube factories. The light bulbs are in series with the tubes, and serve many purposes at once. First, a light bulb is the most precise mechanical fuse that exists. There is no melting fuse that can do that. A light bulb is a wonderful a current limiter, as it has a constant current user characteristic. Meaning when you force more current trough it, as it tried to limit it becomes a fuse. So when you exceed the current it blows up. Second they're nice current indicators. Take a light bulb yourself, and try it. At 20% more current, you get almost twice the light. From one quick look at such a panel with 80 tubes, the operator can see immediately which ones behave not like the others. Such a tube gets thrown away, even before any other test is done. Also generically bad lots would show this to it the operator. So he can try to correct this.

The Panel Meter Cabinet. As you can see, it has a lock on it. I bet there was some old specialist baby sitting this inventory. The copper wire might be repair wire for meter coils, and the gray wire might be resistor wire to calibrate the meter impedance after a repair.

An interesting detail, I see here is the little rubber hammer. Such a thing was used in tube factories to do microphonic tests. Look at the little oscilloscope on the right. I suppose that's how they viewed the microphonics. Also note the little
"sand clock" (It's under the letter "u" of www.jacmusic.com"

This was originally a Philips machine, made in Holland it writes.
Later is became property of "EI Fab.Rad. Cervi"


This is some kind of a high voltage power supply, by Philips. I recognize a high voltage probe. It is under the "c" of jacmusic. Note on the side, the yellow sticker of Western Electric.


Look here, you can see it was bought by Western Electric D.O.O. I would be interesting to know who really owns the brand rights for that in Europe. On the black labels I can read Dutch Text, from Philips, saying this is a main power supply.

An abused Tektronix 750. I wonder who got his sticky fingers on it. I can see the serial number is 005548

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



while today the tube industry is soaring. Allow me to say, the buyer's crowd made a fatal error, not buying EI when they could for low prices, and the factory was screaming for orders, around the year 2000.

This was totally classic, and repeats for ever. You will see that.

When the factory was in bad need, there were called low cost crappy tubes from the communists. The attempt by some dealers to establish the "EI Gold brand", was good, but it was fighting against a windmill. When the crowds shouts no, they all shout the same.

I started this article in 2016. Just wait until 2025, and EI tubes will be worth a fortune. I can already hear the shouting on Ebay.... The forgotten Telefunken from the East.... Offering those white plate ECC83 as the sounding tubes ever made, for 200 Euro each. Or why no ask 500 Euro. Just wait. (And yes, you could have had two full boxes of 100pcs for that..... off the factory... but nobody wanted to buy that crap....)

Here is translation, maybe not perfect but i will try.

Good politics of our party and comrade Tito led us to the most revolutionary parole of our teacher of proletariat Marx.


On the day of November 15th, 1950 we bring this factory to be governed by the working collective.

Collective Factory RR

Note, the factory was not called EI, but RR at first. This means Radio Roentgen. They build the factory from the WW2 ashes. Here are some pictures of their first tubes. Pic1 - Pic2 - Pic3

Sad picture

Here ends a socialist workers paradise.