The first electron microscope at Oregon State University was manufactured by Radio Corporation of America (RCA). The microscope was an RCA model EMU-2D transmission instrument manufactured circa 1944-47.  The U in EMU stands for universal as the microscope could do imaging and diffraction.  


The microscope was obtained for OSU’s Physics Department, installed in Weniger Hall, and was used to visually characterize carbon “soot” particles in hopes that characterization information could aid in identifying “source” warships. In a few years the microscope was transferred to OSU’s Zoology Department, where it was placed in the care of the department’s cell biologist, Dr. Patrica Harris. The microscope was relocated to the Zoology Department’s new Cordley Hall “Electron Microscopy Laboratory” early in the 1960’s and available for research project use in very limited ways to select OSU faculty members and Zoology Department graduate students. Images from this microscope were taken as five 2” x 2” photographs recorded on a 2”x 10” glass plate. Only one plate could be put in the microscope at a time. The microscope used “vacuum tube” circuitry and had a completely manually operated vacuum system; the entire column needed to be brought back “to air” for every film or specimen exchange. Full vacuum recovery required at least 40 minutes. The microscope was given to the Benton County Historical Society in the 1990’s.


The inner workings of the OSU RCA EMU-2D.  Notice the large vacuum tubes for which RCA was known!