The First Transistor Radios - 1950s
The First Transistor Radios -
Collectors of things most always want to get the first of that thing for their collection. Then all the related firsts. Left in the top picture is the very first commercial transistor radio in the world, the Regency TR-1 (1954, USA). Bottom center is the first transistor radio made in Japan, the Sony TR-55* (1955). It’s the first product ever to bear the now-ubiquitous trademark “Sony.” You’ve heard of it.
Other first transistor radios shown in that photo are the Raytheon T-100 (1955, USA) and the Zenith Royal 500. And what’s better than having these seminal pocket radios? Having them in their original boxes!
If I have a “main” collection, this is it. Transistor radios. While sorely tempted to fill these pages with dozens of stunning examples, I have to restrain myself. This site is about all my collections and transistor radios will just have to fit in and behave themselves.
To those who know me in the transistor collecting community, this may seem absurd. But I have devoted a considerable amount of time and energy photographing and documenting these little gems in my books. Readers interested in seeing and learning more about transistor radios are invited to look at those efforts here.
Transistor radios appeal for their design/styling and for their historical significance. The 1954 appearance of the TR-1 was just seven years after the invention of the transistor itself in 1947. The transistor radio was the first mass-market product of any kind to be designed from inception as a purely transistor device, exploring and paving the way for a future of space travel, personal computers, and mobile phones—all of which would be impossible without the transistor, arguably the most significant invention of the 20th Century.
*See short video about the Sony TR-55
The rare purple Emerson 849 stacked on top of a Magnavox AM-2 are both US-made and from 1955. The RCA Victor 7-BT-9J is from1955 and the Philco T-7 beneath it is from 1956, both USA. In the gold metal cabinet is the Motorola 56T1 (1955, USA) and the red radio is a General Electric 677 (1955, USA). All the radios on this page are the first transistor radios of their respective brands with two exceptions; the Emerson and Raytheon models are the first pocket transistor radios of those brands. These two companies had earlier in 1955 made larger portable-size all-transistor radios, but it’s the pocket-size models that had the most appeal then, as now, and that’s what’s featured here.
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