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Drawing, Concept Sketch for "Predicta" Television

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Robert E. Doyle and drafted by Robert E. Doyle and made for (as the client) Philco (Philadelphia Storage Battery Company). It is dated ca. 1959 and we acquired it in 2012. Its medium is color pencil on tracing paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

The museum has a rare opportunity to acquire a drawing for the famed Philco Predicta television (1958–60), an example of which is in the museum’s collection. This very appealing concept sketch, with a red tuner that looks like the dashboard of a 1950s automobile, is the work of Robert E. Doyle, a member of the Predicta design team led by Herbert Gosweiler and Severin Jonassen. Doyle, a graduate of Pratt Institute in New York (1953), joined Philco in November 1957 after working for International Harvester, where he designed the 1957 Jubilee pickup truck. At Philco, Doyle designed radios, televisions, and kitchen products. In November 1962, he left Philco for Sylvania where he stayed for 20 years, eventually becoming head of design for their television division. In the early 1980s, he moved to Knoxville to work for Magnavox and later opened his own independent design firm.
The evolution of the Predicta television was very much a team effort. While Jonassen, Richard Whipple, and Catherine Walker are credited with the design of several different Predicta models, there were many stages and players in the development of these televisions. The 1958–59 production models were not financially successful because they were ahead of the market stylistically and Doyle was assigned to design a more “mellow” version. Doyle’s concept never went into production and the whole Predicta project came to a halt in 1960.
This sketch represents Doyle’s blue sky concept for the Predicta. According to the designer, he envisioned the television made of an injection molded tube housing, tuner, and base that was far ahead of the technology of the time. A photograph from the designer’s archives depicts Doyle and a colleague sitting in front of the sketch while Doyle holds the prototype mock-up for the plastic housing, indicating that the sketch provoked some kind of discourse in the design evolution of a Predicta model, regardless of whether or not it was ever produced.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled The Future of Television.

It is credited Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

  • Drawing, Design for a Radio
  • brush and dark brown ink, light brown and white gouache, light brown and....
  • Gift of Alfons and Anita S. Bach.
  • 1998-71-2

Its dimensions are

35.6 x 42.5 cm (14 in. x 16 3/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Drawing, Concept Sketch for "Predicta" Television; Designed by Robert E. Doyle (American, b. 1929); Client: Philco (Philadelphia Storage Battery Company) (United States); USA; color pencil on tracing paper; 35.6 x 42.5 cm (14 in. x 16 3/4 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2012-1-3

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Pixar: The Design of Story.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18794729/ |title=Drawing, Concept Sketch for "Predicta" Television |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=27 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>