For many of us, there was a constant, almost relentless drive to achieve the strongest signal that we possibly could, within our physical and financial means. The pursuit of this goal consumed much time and money,and was a topic of many conversations, for a great deal of CB operators. The two most popular paths toward achieving this goal were larger antennas, mounted as high up as practical, and amplifiers. Modest antenna improvements were usually cheaper and also normally legal, but usually didn't make really large signal gains. On the other hand, amplifiers cost a bit more, and unfortunately they were illegal (not that that ever stopped those inclined). But amps were fairly easy to set up and, depending on how large, they could make a big improvement in one's signal for little physical effort. And like athletes using steroids to pack on the muscle the easy way, some of us took the radio operator's equivalent of the easy road and succumbed to the allure of high power. The following are examples of the most popular makes of amplifiers which saw regular use in my local area.
Classic Tube Base Amps:
Nothing says more about high performance CB operations back in he day, than these classic tube amps. Solid state high power R.F. devices had not yet become practical (or cheap), so most amplifiers, both mobile and base, were using designs based on television horizontal sweep output tubes. From as few as 1 or 2, to as many as 16 glowing glass sweep tubes, these monsters came in various sizes, and power levels. Back in the mid 70's, sweep tubes were cheap (About $4 - $8 a piece), and the circuitry was hand wired and relatively simple. And there was nothing that signaled the sound of power more, than the noise of a heavy duty cooling fan humming in the background when the operator keyed up.
Classic Tube Mobile Amps:
Running a tube amp in a mobile could be a bit of a challenge. For one thing, they had to be tuned, which meant that they had to be easily accessible from the operator position. They also drew a lot of current for the power that they produced. A 50 watt tube amp could draw up to 15 amps of 12V power. It's no small wonder that people rarely ran more than about 200 watts in the car.