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TOS Machine Tools Czechoslovakia
Anniversary Book 1976

Continued on: Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5   Page 6

Operation & Parts Manual are available for many TOS Machines


With many and diverse Companies - grouped as a centralised, planned economy under communism as TOS - Czechoslovakian industry produced a huge variety of industrial products and machine tools. Building on a well-established and successful  pre-WW2 industrial base, by the 1970s machine tools were an important part of the country's economy and included miniature precision, toolroom, production, vertical and capstan lathes; giant planers, shapers, presses, horizontal borers, grinding machines, tool and cutter grinders, milling machines, gear cutters, rotary tables and drills.
In 1976, with the country still under Communist control (and with the population able to receive just one state-controlled TV channel) the TOS group celebrated its "anniversary" by publishing a well-illustrated and detailed booklet. Not only where a variety of machine types featured but also production process and a number of other interesting factory-related activities. In addition, the text also ran to a eulogy of the communist system - an account quite at variance with, even in the 1970s, the reality of a police state ruled by a dictatorial government controlled by the USSR, the suppression of free speech, show trials and the unavailability of consumer goods - unless a citizen had access to foreign currency and the special shops that accepted it. Naturally, the black market thrived and it was even possible to bribe one's way past the 15-year waiting list for a thrown-together rear-engine Skoda.
From Wikipedia: … because of large social purges, so many workers were dismissed from established professions in such purges that they often had to be replaced by hastily trained younger workers free of questionable class origins. A Czechoslovakian noted:
"
The highly qualified professional people are laying roads, building bridges and operating machines, and the dumb clots--whose fathers used to dig, sweep or bricklay--are on top, telling the others where to lay the roads, what to produce and how to spend the country's money. The consequence is the roads look like ploughed fields, we make things we can't sell and the bridges can't be used for traffic…. Then they wonder why the economy is going downhill like a ten-ton lorry with the brakes off".
Like the rest of the Eastern Bloc, Czechoslovakia effectively missed the information and electronics revolution of the 1970s and 1980s and the party-state planned system ended up collapsing under the weight of accumulated economic inefficiencies …
Short story: John, the friend of a friend, made several visits to Czechoslovakia several in the 1970s, taking test equipment related motor vehicle emissions regulations. Followed everywhere at first by the secret police, he became friends with one of the Skoda lab technicians who invited him home. Upon entering the ground floor of a 30-story block of flat his friend asked if he could help carry up to the 12th floor - the lift had never worked - one of several TVs piled up at the bottom of the stair well. The flat, it turned out, was pretty much full of TV sets being converted to receive West German TV. Unfortunately, as a lack of parts was hampering progress, on John's next visit, a large suitcase of scrap electronic components accompanied him. Upon seeing this cornucopia of scrap, the new friend exclaimed, "Where did you get all that!"
"From the local electronics shop, it's stuff they were throwing out".
"Shop? You have shops selling this material?"
"Of course. Don't you?"
"Oh, no. Everything is Government controlled. We have to steal and barter for anything that's not on the approved list."
Happy ending - the former technician now runs a very successful electronics business employing several dozen people.



Continued on: Page 2   Page 3   Page 4   Page 5   Page 6

Operation & Parts Manual are available for many TOS Machines

TOS Machine Tools Czechoslovakia
Anniversary Book 1976
email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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