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The Tektronix 576 is a curve tracer introduced in 1969 at $2,125. It uses plug-in fixture modules such as the 172 and 176.

Unlike the 570, 575 and 7CT1N, the 576 (and also the 577) provides an AC collector sweep mode.

Key Specifications

Collector Sweep Ranges
  • 15 V / 10 A
  • 75 V / 2 A
  • 350V / 0.5 A
  • 1500 V / 0.1 A
Vertical Display Collector Current Range 0.1 μA/division to 2 A/division in 1-2-5 sequence
Vertical Display Emitter Current Range 0.1 nA/division to 2 mA/division in 1-2-5 sequence
Horizontal Display Collector Voltage Range 5 mV /division to 200 V /division in 1-2-5 sequence
Horizontal Display Base Voltage Range 5 mV /division to 2 V/division in 1-2·5 sequence
Base Current Step Generator 200 mA to 50 nA, in 1-2-5 sequence
Base Voltage Step Generator 50 mV to 2 V, in 1-2-5 sequence

Note that these specifications are for the 576 Standard Test Fixture. For detailed specifications see 576 Detailed Specifications.


Except for the cathode ray tube (CRT), the 576 is all-solid-state. It came out during the last four production years of the Type 575, which used the then-current 500-series technology of ceramic strips for circuit tie points. The 576 used updated construction much in the same style as that of the 453 and 454 portable oscilloscopes, using printed circuit boards. In fact, the 576 and 453 began life at about the same time. The only reason the Type 575 remained in production was because the 176 pulsed high-current fixture had not yet been developed for the 576, and the Type 575 coupled with its Type 175 pulsed high-current fixture filled requirement for power semiconductors. An interesting side note is that the 453 was introduced the same year as the 576; the 453A and 454A were introduced at the same time as the 176 pulsed high-current adaptor for the 576.

The 576 is unequaled in performance and durability. In physical volume, it is smaller than the Type 575, mostly due to a cabinet that slopes downward toward the back. Its sloping front panel and sloping “front porch” where the various adaptors are installed make it much a more comfortable instrument to use. In addition, the 576 sports an internal graticule and a larger display area. Because of the power it is able to deliver to solid-state power semiconductors under test, it is a surprisingly heavy instrument for its smaller size, and despite its solid-state design, weighs in at 70-1/2 pounds vs. the 66-1/4 pound weight of the Type 575.

The HV supply for the CRT uses a 120-0612-00 or 120-0612-01 or 120-0612-03 transformer.

Display and Readout

The display is large at 10 × 10 cm with an internal, parallax-free graticule. Along the right side of the CRT is an alphanumeric readout which puts the important front panel settings where they can be photographed along with the displayed semiconductor curve. This display is a complex unit of fiber optic light-guides driven by incandescent lamps to provide alphabetic, numeric and Greek characters. Given the front panel settings, the display automatically calculates beta/DIV. The same readout modules were used in the short-lived 5030/5031 scope series. The 576 was designed before the 7000-series scopes, and by a different engineering group, or they might have shared information and technology to provide all of this as on-screen readout like the 7000-series, and for less money than the technology they used. Surprisingly, this fiber-optic unit has not proved to be the least bit troublesome, considering all of the incandescent lamps required to implement the design. Wise operators will keep the display illumination at a lower level to prolong lamp life.

Display positioning in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions is via a switch which moves the beam a calibrated number of divisions and a potentiometer for fine control. The little brother tracer, the 577, introduced at a later date, does not have this feature.

Test Fixtures

The interface connections to the test fixtures are made through the same style of blue robust Amphenol 26-xxx-xx connectors as used with the plug-ins on the 500-series oscilloscope line.

Test Fixtures


The collector voltage can be swept from zero to 1500 V in four ranges. For the 75 V and higher ranges a plastic safety cover box must be installed in the test fixture and closed, otherwise a yellow warning light indicates that the collector voltage is disabled. Because so many used 576s do not come with safety covers, some users defeat the safety interlock mechanically or electrically, which is hazardous given the lethal voltages and currents the 576 is capable of producing.

The instrument has uses other than displaying semiconductor curves. The vertical system can be adjusted for high current sensitivities in the nanoamp region and with the availability of 1500 volts and DC operation vs. collector supply sweeping, can provide measurement of capacitor leakage currents that few other instruments can achieve. This is handy for checking ceramic high voltage filter capacitors in defective supplies.

The 576 is capable of displaying curves for bipolar transistors, field-effect transistors, silicon-controlled rectifiers, triacs, diacs, diodes and rectifiers, zener diodes, tunnel diodes … nearly any semiconductor imaginable. If one constructs simple adaptors, the 576 can be used to check optocouplers and transistor arrays as well. It is capable of pouring 20 amperes through a device up to a power level of 220 watts.

The demise of the original 575 came in 1971 when the 575's companion 175 pulsed high-current unit was no longer sold, replaced by the 576 with its new 176 pulsed high-current adaptor. The 575 itself disappeared from the catalog about a year later.

When production ended with its final appearance in the 1990 catalog, the sales price of the 576 had escalated to a stunning $18,040, replaced by the 370 and 371 models selling for just a little bit more.

The 576 now sells on the eBay on-line auction site for anywhere from about $300 to over $2000, usually offered without the safety shield or any adaptors and often without the standard test fixture which sellers seem to enjoy offering separately. Many are sold with only the 176 pulsed high-current adaptor installed. The small transistor adaptors are selling for nearly their original catalog price. On average, the 576 is being sold on the used market for about 1/12 its last catalog price – or at about half the price when it first appeared in 1969. Overall, the instrument has held its value and popularity very well.

Vacuum tubes can have their curves traced on a 576. This requires a fixture that provides the heater current to the tube under test. Pairs of tubes can be matched this way. Alternatively, the two triodes in a dual-triode can be compared. The Tektronix 570 (last sold around 1966) specializes in tube measurements and has a built-in heater supply for the tube under test, which makes the 570 convenient. However, with a custom fixture, the 576 can make most, if not all, of the same measurements that can be made on a 570.

The AC collector sweep mode is useful when one wants a single plot showing the behavior of a device with positive and negative voltages. For example, a zener diode typically starts conducting at a few hundred millivolts in the positive direction, but has minimal reverse conduction until the zener voltage is reached, e.g., at 6.2 volts.

On a different subject, it might be noted here that the introduction of the 576 marked the approximate time that Tektronix began moving from using the word “Type” in front of its model numbers (e.g., Type 545B) to simply using the model number only.


Year 1969 1990
Catalog price $2,125 $18,040
2014 value $13,700 $32,675





Custom ICs used in the 576

Page Class Manufacturer Model Part nos Description Designers Used in
155-0004-01 Monolithic integrated circuit Tektronix M033 155-0004-01 decoder Mike Metcalf 576
155-0005-00 Monolithic integrated circuit Tektronix M034 155-0005-00 beta computer Mike Metcalf Roger McCoy 576
155-0006-01 Monolithic integrated circuit Tektronix M35 155-0006-00 155-0006-01 beta computer Mike Metcalf 576
155-0007-01 Monolithic integrated circuit Tektronix M38 155-0007-00 155-0007-01 lamp driver Mike Metcalf 576
155-0008-01 Monolithic integrated circuit Tektronix M39 155-0008-00 155-0008-01 lamp driver Mike Metcalf 576