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]

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

Life on the lam: Escaped convict David Sweat shares details
Christian Science Monitor, June 30th

Law enforcement said that Sweat was carrying a backpack with Pop-Tarts, a map, and a transistor radio with extra batteries when apprehended. Infographic Crime falls in the US. Are you safer today? In Pictures When prison doors swing open · Photos of...Read more

1954 - RW Blackwood & Bill Lyles (Blackwood Brothers) - Plane Crash
VVN Music, June 29th

1948 - The use of transistors to replace tubes is announced by Bell Labs, making the Transistor Radio possible. 1975 - The Jackson Five announced they were leaving Motown Records for Epic. Motown didn't allow them to take their name so they changed to ...Read more

How PM Modi's Beti Bachao, Selfie Banao campaign became a rage to rewrite ...
Economic Times, June 29th

After breakfast, Jaglan sat at the Sunday chaupal, or community meeting, with about 10 other villagers, his ear to the transistor. Someone at the chaupal passed around some channa to snack on. His three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Nandini was playing ...Read more

Milestones of Innovation 9: Early Bird On Station
Xconomy, June 29th

This event, a landmark on the way to today's interconnected world, happened less than 40 years after the first radio-telephone conversations between New York and London, less than 10 years after the first sub-ocean telephone cable went into service...Read more

AT&T Adds Motorola Moto E, ZTE Maven Prepaid GoPhones
eWeek, June 29th

The second-generation Moto E (pictured) has a 4.5-inch thin-film-transistor (TFT) display with 960-by-540 resolution and a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 surface, a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 1GB of RAM; it runs on the Android 5.0.2 ...Read more

5 things to know and don't forget to #TouchThePickle
Philadelphia Business Journal, June 29th

Bloggers do their thing, some of them do it well. But think that pro editors, reporters and photographers have gone the way of the transistor radio at your peril. That's my soapbox for the day, and here is Jeff Blumenthal's report on the strike that...Read more

THE REGULARS: 'Back in the day,' AM radio and transistors ruled
Sioux City Journal, June 28th

I recently came upon a short article that caught my attention. It said transistor radios are no longer being manufactured. Sadly enough, those iconic rectangular boxes that connected so many of us to the AM radio world have become obsolete. Part of...Read more

ARBOR WEALTH: Risk tolerance, transistor radios and Otis Redding
Destin Log, June 16th

And I was nine when I first heard “Papa's Got a Brand New Bag” by James Brown, walking home from school, riveted to my friend's transistor radio. The Georgia rhythm and blues emanating from that little speaker spoke of a different world than did the...Read more