I believe that they did. According to the Wikipedia entries for "diode"
and for "selenium diode", selenium diodes were developed for power
applications in the 1930s and radio and TVs used them from about 1947
You're right, but they wouldn't put one of those in a fan, I think.
They'd have to design the case around it. The smallest are an inch
cubed. Maybe there are smaller for small currents, but even my
battery charger (yes, you're right again, made in the 50's) had one
that was 1.5 inches square and a half inch thick.
When the rectifier opened, and on another one too, I thought I had to
have another selenium to replace it. For the small one, 1 amp, I
found at a surplus shop but it was so big I had to mount it outside
the case. By the time I found the 10 amp one, broken, in the 70's, I
looked all over Brookny, NYC, and Queens, and couldn't find one. I
let the thing sit for 3 or 4 years and then all of a sudden it worked
fine for occasionaly usage for 10 or 15 years. Then it broke in the
smae way and I bought some tophats to fix it with.
Some of those battery chargers used Copper oxide rectifiers. You can
usually tell if a selenium goes. You well never forget that rotten egg
smell. I use to have an old ham radio book that told how to make your
own Cu oxide rectifiers. Not something I ever tried.
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