The transistor was invented in 1947 at Bell Labs in New Jersey. In 1954, Texas Instruments of Dallas teamed up with Regency Electronics (its original name was Industrial Development Engineering Associates, or I.D.E.A.) of Indianapolis to manufacture the first pocket-size transistor radio. Generally, the most collectible transistor radios are those made in Japan from 1956 to 1963 and in America from 1955 to 1960, but by the early '60s, many American companies had opted to have their radios made in Japan.

Besides the Regency TR-1, which came in 10 colors and retailed for $49.95, other collectible American brands include Zenith, RCA, G.E., Admiral, Motorola, Magnavox, Philco, Raytheon, Arvin, Sylvania, and Emerson. Collectible Japanese brands include Toshiba, Hitachi, Sharp, Standard, Sanyo, Matsushita (Panasonic), Mitsubishi, Aiwa, Realtone, Global, and Zephyr. And then, of course, there was Sony, which stunned the electronics world in 1957 with its TR-63. Although the radio utilized miniature components, Sony dramatized the radio's small size at a trade show when it had its representatives carry them in their shirt pockets. Turns out Sony had dressed its staff in shirts that had been sewn with larger pockets than normal, which is the reason why the TR-63 fit.

One desirable feature for vintage transistor radios is reverse-painted plastic, popular between 1958 and 1962. In these radios, all of the artwork is painted on the inside of the radio's clear plastic dial cover. Also desirable are brightly colored cases, including cool 1950s hues like robin’s egg blue, seafoam green, and bright red or yellow. Condition also matters to collectors. Finding a radio with its original box, leather case, earphones, owner’s manual, and warranty card or sales slip will significantly increase its value.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Michael Jack's Transistor Radio Photos

Michael Jack's Transistor Radio Photos

Michael Jack's great transistor radio collection includes stunning photos and great reference information on indivi… [read review or visit site]

Transistor Radio Design

Transistor Radio Design

James Butters' fun and creative website focusing on the design of 1950s and 60s pocket transistor radios. Highlight… [read review or visit site]

Radio Wallah

Radio Wallah

Alan Kastner's transistor radio site was one of the original go-to websites for radio enthusiasts, and it offers an… [read review or visit site]

Fifties Radio: Early Transistor Radios

Fifties Radio: Early Transistor Radios

This site features colorful images of Japanese and American-made transistor radios from the 1950s. Before diving in… [read review or visit site]

M31 Galaxy of Transistor Radios

M31 Galaxy of Transistor Radios

Robert Davidson's great site (galaxy, really), one of the earliest transistor radio sites on the web, features over… [read review or visit site]

Sarah's Transistor Radios

Sarah's Transistor Radios

Sarah Lowrey's collection of over 1000 radios you wish you could take to the beach. Viewable alphabetically by make… [read review or visit site]

The Mid Century Modernist

The Mid Century Modernist

Stephen Coles' really visual blog dedicated to the Modernist era of design from 1940 to 1970 (aka Mid-century Moder… [read review or visit site]

Jim's Antique Radio Museum

Jim's Antique Radio Museum

Jim Tripp's showcase of radios from the 1920s to late 1950s, organized by style and theme (wood, console, plastic, … [read review or visit site]

The Radio Attic's Archives

The Radio Attic's Archives

This photo gallery of over 7800 vintage radios, categorized by manufacturer and model number, is a group effort wit… [read review or visit site]

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

This website showcases several hundred pieces of furniture, held by thirteen museums, that were designed for Herman… [read review or visit site]

EamesCollector.com

EamesCollector.com

Steven Cabella's personal homage to Charles and Ray Eames. This site is as clean and visually appealing as the Eame… [read review or visit site]

AntiqueRadios.com

AntiqueRadios.com

Alan Voorhees' reference resource for vintage radio collectors includes a photo gallery, article library, PDF archi… [read review or visit site]

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

This Library of Congress microsite is an overview of the postwar modern design work of Charles (1907-78) and Ray (1… [read review or visit site]

Radiomuseum.org

Radiomuseum.org

This vast archive and community of radio collectors features over 120,000 radio model listings and 350,000 photos a… [read review or visit site]

Classic Modern

Classic Modern

Get a taste of how homes were lit in the 50s, 60s, and 70s with the Danish retro-style lighting designs featured on… [read review or visit site]

Phil's Old Radios

Phil's Old Radios

This extensive collection of antique radios includes beautiful photos and detailed historical descriptions. The sit… [read review or visit site]

Radiophile.com

Radiophile.com

John Pelham's collection of wood and plastic radios from the 1930's and 40's. What sets this site apart is the deta… [read review or visit site]

Radio-Guy

Radio-Guy

Steve Erenberg's extremely wacky and well-done collection of vintage mad-scientist devices and contraptions. Writte… [read review or visit site]



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Recent News: Transistor Radios

Source: Google News

RadioShack sparked joy of tinkering
Chicago Tribune, September 15th

Radios were then powered by vacuum tubes, a bunch of them in a store-bought model, maybe one or two in a homemade radio. There was also a zero-tube radio, the ultimate learning device. It used a crystal — the distant ancestor of the transistor — and...Read more

One Didn't Make You the Other
Radio World, September 15th

Broadcasting equipment had improved dramatically since the inception of commercial broadcasting in the 1920s; but even in 1967, 20 years after the invention of the transistor, transmitting equipment was almost exclusively built with vacuum tubes...Read more

New Phoenix play satirizes Arizona political figures
KTAR.com, September 15th

Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work...Read more

Channel Master Spices Up DVR+ With Pandora Internet Radio, Free Shipping ...
Marketwired (press release), September 15th

Channel Master was a leading manufacturer of transistor radios in the 1960s, as well as the leading provider of television antennas. Having Pandora as part of the DVR+ platform brings the history of our brand full circle in a single modern device."...Read more

My Life: Mark Twain memories will stand after demolition
Sioux Falls Argus Leader, September 14th

I thought about the times I cut behind Charlie's Pizza, how I stopped at Dow Drug on 26th Street and Minnesota Avenue to spend a dime on a pack of baseball cards, how I ran home in October 1968 holding my transistor radio against an ear as I tried to...Read more

Local history: Silver Lake girl had fab time meeting Beatles in 1964
Akron Beacon Journal, September 14th

Linda Seib holds up a Beatles poster from 16 Magazine that she once had on her bedroom wall as a teenager. Seib won a radio contest to meet the Beatles before their 1964 concert in Cleveland when she was 14 years-old. (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon ...Read more

Before the game, why not 'Shout!'?
Fremont Tribune, September 13th

You can sit next to your transistor radio and envision the choices Tommy Armstrong has during the zone read or you can channel your days listening to your transistor radio while dancing, in the twilight zone of teen imagination, with Paul McCartney...Read more

Putin praises rebels, likens Ukraine army to Nazi invaders
Dallas Morning News, August 29th

A pro-Russia rebel listened intently Friday to a news report on a transistor radio in the eastern Ukraine town of Novoazovsk, from which the Ukrainian army had retreated. The Dallas Morning News. FROM WIRE REPORTS. Published: 29 August 2014 11:21 ...Read more