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

Scott Allen heads to college
Princeton Daily Clarion, October 21st

Allen found his love of sports broadcasting while he was a child, falling asleep to the sports station on his transistor radio at night. “I guess I enjoy the romantic aspect of radio; I love that the announcers are left to paint the story for the...Read more

Best of the World Series and a little bit of comic gold
Toronto Star (blog), October 21st

The World Series starts tonight and hands up everyone who used to either sneak a tiny transistor radio into the classroom – perhaps in a shirt pocket, sometime hidden in a notebook – to catch the mid-week afternoon games. I sure did, listening as...Read more

Gough's positive input to Australian society cannot be ignored
Herald Sun, October 21st

As a student intrigued by politics, I'd thrilled to the soaring rhetoric of his 1972 “Men and women of Australia” campaign launch speech at Blacktown, transmitted through my static-laden transistor radio. I ventured to Chelsea expecting a repeat — in...Read more

IBM Pays $1.5 Billion To Dump Loser Chip Unit
CIO Today, October 20th

opportunities in industry-leading radio frequency and specialty technologies and ASIC design capabilities. “We can now offer our customers a broader range of differentiated leading-edge 3D transistor and RF technologies, and we will also improve our...Read more

DJ Dennis Elsas Shares Music and Memories at MAM, 11/1
Baristanet, October 20th

I had always loved radio—I literally had a transistor radio under my pillow as a kid—so I auditioned to be a host. From all that listening to my transistor radio, I had learned how to both ask questions and listen, so they liked me. After I graduated...Read more

It's sixty years since the first portable transistor radio went on the market ...
Treehugger, October 20th

When one thinks of the most significant dates in our technological development, October 18, 1954 doesn't pop up there at the top of the list. It should; 60 years ago the first portable transistor radio went on sale. The Regency TR1 was the first...Read more

Retro tech - the transistor radio
BT.com, October 17th

The mighty transistor radio was the first piece of technology that gave young people complete musical freedom from parental disapproval. In creating a new avenue for artistic expression and the dissemination of new ideas, the transistor radio is often ...Read more

PK Poster : Anushka Sharma poses with the transistor
Times of India, October 16th

Aamir Khan created a stir as he posed nude with only the transistor for the first poster of PK. And now Anushka Sharma follows suit, as the actress dresses up in quirky outfits, along with a transistor. In one of posters, Anushka Sharma has dressed up...Read more