60 Years Ago This Month: First Transistor Radio

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60 Years Ago This Month: First Transistor Radio

Postby jon » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:08 pm

Image

It was November 1954 when the first hand-held transistor radios went on sale as the Christmas gift "everybody wanted". The same month that Red Robinson became Canada's first DJ with a daily Rock and Roll show.

The Top 10 Billboard Pop Charts for this month in 1954 included Shake, Rattle and Roll by Bill Haley. Ruth Brown, Faye Adams and The Charms had #1 songs on the Billboard R&B charts.

The radio was the Regency TR-1. Manufactured by I.D.E.A. Inc. (short for Industrial Development Engineering Associates) with transistors from Texas Instruments, who provided the original prototype radio. Argus Plastics provided the cases in the choice of colours shown above. 100,000 radios were sold in the first year, with an advertised price of $49.95. Not included was the 22.5 volt battery, listed at $1.15, fairly inexpensive as it was quite common for use in most hearing aids. The battery would last for 20-30 hours of radio use, which was three to four times as long as battery-operated tube radios of the era. Then there was the leather case for an extra $3.95. And $7.50 for an earphone!

The radio weighed 12 ounces and was 3" x 5" x 1 1/4".

The performance was poor enough that Consumer Reports magazine recommended against its purchase, citing high noise levels and instability on certain frequencies. To keep the price down, two transistors had been eliminated from the original Texas Instruments prototype, really reducing how loud the radio could be played.

On the positive side, the radio did have an automatic gain control. Part of the manufacturing process was hand tuning the Intermediate Frequency (IF) transformer to 262 KHz.
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Re: 60 Years Ago This Month: First Transistor Radio

Postby Eldon-Mr.CFAY » Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:21 am

Greetings,
Interesting Jon, thanks very much for sharing this about the first portable transistor radio. I had heard about it but unfortunately never have found one. I have collected and sold various transistor radios, tabletop tube radios over the years and certainly would have loved to find this Regency. Perhaps in the near future. One thing I did not realize though is the battery size it use, 22.5 volts, did not think the original transistors used that type of battery or voltage but a lower one at 12 volts or less. Interesting. Again thanks for sharing the great photo of it and article Jon, much appreciated!

All the best to everyone! 73s Eldon
Bye . . Mr. CFAY "Frequently On The Frequency"
The CFAY Website: http://cfayradio.wordpress.com
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Re: 60 Years Ago This Month: First Transistor Radio

Postby jon » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:09 am

By 1962, when I first bought a small transistor radio of my own, the same 9 volt batteries that we have today were the standard.

The first models with two penlight (AA) batteries were coming out, but cost twice as much as their 9 volt siblings, in part because they were higher end, typically 8 transistor instead of 6. The batteries lasted much, much longer, however.

As I said, 22.5 volt batteries were very common in the 1950s as they were the standard for hearing aids of the era.
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Re: 60 Years Ago This Month: First Transistor Radio

Postby Tom Jeffries » Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:22 pm

My first Transistor was a Six from Sony.

I lived in Victoria and CKWX, CJOR and KJR boomed in and were like a local signal.

The delight of Pat O'Day and crew are unmatched.

We also listened to CKLG, as CFUN was spotty.

You were a big shot if you had an Eight transistor!
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Re: 60 Years Ago This Month: First Transistor Radio

Postby pave » Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:42 pm

In that case, I was a Big Shot - with my leather-encased, 8-transistor radio strapped to the handlebars of my 3-speed bike.
It was the summer of '62 and Bobby Darin was becoming a part of the soundtrack of my life.
"Dream Lover...until then, I'll go to sleep and dream again..."
(So was Bobby Vinton. But, I'm not bitter. No, no. Not I.)
Two years later, I was a gopher-scruff at C-JOY in Guelph - thinking, "This is for me!
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