26/07/2001 Is this the beginning of the end for the Braun tube? Known to us Anglo-Saxons as the CRT, it's been around for more than a hundred years -- not bad going for an electronic component. But with the high end of the market being gobbled up by flat displays and the low end being a darn difficult place to turn a buck, Hitachi is giving up making the things. With only three Japanese companies left producing the tubes, it looks as if it's about to follow the transistor radio into exile, being made for peanuts in the rest of Asia while the big boys concentrate elsewhere. From a purely technical point of view, I won't miss it. There's something rather worrying about having 25 kilovolts purring away just inches from my head, trapped in a large glass box containing a vacuum and grams of very toxic substances, and powering a particle accelerator pointed straight at my eyes. And LCDs just look nicer. From an aesthetic stance, it's pleasing to think of the direct link back to the very birth of electronics. I won't cry too hard when my last CRT monitor goes away, though. Just don't let me be the one who has to carry it to the skip.