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

'Crimson Heart' shows Moore's love for UA
Andalusia Star-News, April 17th

For instance, he had saved a gift from the first Liberty Bowl in Memphis – a transistor radio. “I doubt if any of the players now would know what that was,” Frank Moore said. “He also had photos from day one that nobody knew he had.” Frank Moore once...Read more

Silicon Valley's foundation stone: Moore's Law turns 50
Los Angeles Times, April 17th

Moore, who was then research director of William Shockley's Fairchild Semiconductor and later the co-founder of Intel, noted that the figure had roughly doubled every year since the first silicon oxide transistor in 1959. Moore "blindly extrapolated...Read more

Boxing Insider Talk: Al Bernstein, Boxing Commentator
CBS Local, April 17th

Bernstein: I was a young kid listening to the first fight between Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson, at night, with my transistor radio, blanket over my head. JK: Did you box as a young man? Bernstein: I did. I boxed with the park district in...Read more

Etihad Stadium has to earn its stripes
The Age, April 17th

Etihad recently spent close to $13 million to provide free Wi-Fi and install 1400 screens throughout the venue. Where once supporters kept track of other games via a transistor radio cupped to the ear, last Sunday evening fans watched North Melbourne...Read more

Turn down the telly, turn up the radio
ESPNcricinfo.com (blog), April 17th

On November 1, 1978, as Pakistan chased the 126 runs needed for victory against India in the Lahore Test, I was listening to the radio commentary with my uncles at my grandfather's home. We had been forced off the television for the most obvious of...Read more

Lover of old-time radio revives serial form at Bryant Lake Bowl
TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press, April 16th

The technology may have changed -- it's an iPod now instead of a transistor radio -- but actor and writer Eric Webster still lulls himself to sleep the way he did when he was a kid: listening to old-time radio. In addition to being a good way to wind...Read more

Dennis McCarthy: Making the switch to Time Warner Cable for Vin Scully
LA Daily News, April 16th

Then my family moved to L.A., and my buck ninety-nine Sears transistor radio couldn't handle the 3,000 mile trip back to the Bronx to pick up the Yankee games. I held out as long as I could then, too. I still hated the Dodgers. But Scully got to me...Read more

Phoenix ready to kick butts in new anti-smoking campaign
KTAR.com, April 16th

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