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”)

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]

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]

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]

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 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]

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

The best/worst job you ever had
Minnesota Public Radio News (blog), September 4th

Every 23 years or so, I like to do a talk show on MPR News just to stay sharp. Monday is the day. So let's prepare accordingly. I don't have any guests lined up, except for you, assuming you've had a job of some sort in your life. The subject is your...Read more

Colorado Voices: Migrant deaths bring back haunting memories for this former ...
The Denver Post, September 4th

The Austrians saved us. Well, along with the Croatians and, of course, the Americans. But mostly, it was the Austrians. On the morning of Aug. 21, 1968, my family clustered around the transistor radio at our vacation campsite near Rijeka, a Croatian...Read more

The Golden Days of Florida Gators Radio: From Transistors to Streaming
GatorCountry.com, August 29th

I know I said in the last article that I loved television, well I loved my radio too. No one ever asked me how big our TV screen was, but everyone wanted to how many transistors my radio had. My favorite was an orange Arvin, six transistors and an...Read more

Clue left on body: A 1970s transistor radio
The Times (subscription), August 28th

26 CONNECT Three COMMENTEMAILMORE. Brownstown police are hoping somebody may help determine a physique discovered almost a yr in the past in a wooded space who left a tantalizing clue- he was carrying a classic 1970s Sony Transistor radio...Read more

Clue left on body: A vintage transistor radio
Detroit Free Press, August 27th

Brownstown police are hoping someone can help identify a body of a man found nearly a year ago in a wooded area who left a tantalizing clue -- he was carrying a vintage Sony Transistor radio. "We're hoping that jogs somebody's memory," said Detective Lt...Read more

Littlefield: A Transistor Radio, A Baseball Bat And A Childhood Memory
WBUR, August 21st

One of the most powerful images of that connection involves a transistor radio I'd gotten for a birthday present when I was perhaps 7. I think it was the only thing for which I'd asked. I thought it was the most magnificent appliance anybody'd ever...Read more

Baseball museum sparks nostalgia of broadcaster on transistor radio
Daily Journal, August 6th

I watch a lot of ball games and just like with my transistor radio, I keep the sound turned down low — not because people are sleeping, but because the announcers are so annoying. It's as if someone passed down a rule that said each second of airtime...Read more

How a transistor radio changed a young boy's life
Tyler Morning Telegraph, August 4th

Coincidentally, that same year, my hometown of Ashdown, Arkansas, got its own radio station. Unfortunately, my new radio was AM only. The new radio station was on the FM dial. No problem. My parents' console stereo had FM, and to my amazement, ...Read more