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

Terry's Turn: A storm makes one appreciate small blessings
Sioux City Journal, October 1st

I dug out an old transistor radio I had in the bottom of my desk drawer only to find out it was as dead as the trees in the yard. After a futile search for some fresh batteries I somehow found a pad of paper in the dark and wrote it on the grocery list...Read more

Harford fans excited for Orioles playoff appearance
Baltimore Sun, September 30th

Berthney grew up in Aberdeen listening to Orioles games at night on a transistor radio, and he has attended their postseason games during the 1960s, '70s and '80s, except when the O's went to the World Series in 1966, when he was still a child. He and...Read more

Newseum Celebrates 19 Newsmaking Baby Boomers
Forbes, September 30th

It also features news magazines from the Newseum collection and over 30 iconic boomer objects, including a copy of Dr. Benjamin Spock's parental advice book, Baby and Child Care; a 1959 Barbie doll; a 1964 G.I. Joe action figure; a transistor radio...Read more

Generations of Baltimore Orioles fans reflect on passing down a love of the team
Baltimore Sun, September 30th

Their grandmother carried a transistor radio so she could listen everywhere she went. "My grandmother would listen to the ballgame ... at the ballgame," said Kenny Bailey, a Baltimore police sergeant. Bailey could rattle off batting statistics before...Read more

On Joe Thomas and the brotherhood of great Cleveland Browns left tackles
The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com, September 30th

He protected Otto Graham and opened holes for Marion Motley and Jim Brown. Growing up on a farm in Wooster, Schafrath idolized Groza. He listened to Browns games on a transistor radio and occasionally saw them on television at a nearby general store...Read more

Legendary Radio DJ Charlie Tuna Is Honored At The Georgia Radio Museum ...
All Access Music Group, September 29th

What does legendary on-air personality CHARLIE TUNA have in dommon with ex-President JIMMYCARTER? No, they both don't have lust in their hearts, but are memorialized in the form of transistor radios as part of the fourth quarter “Feature Display” at...Read more

Knudson: Fans want some home cooking on broadcasts
The Coloradoan, September 27th

Several years ago, a smart guy back east came up with a transistor radio that allowed the listener to eliminate the delay. Sports Sync Radio it was called, but it maxed out at seven seconds, so it never really caught on. In Lincoln, Nebraska, several...Read more

Top 10 Radio Songs For The Week Of Sept. 27, 2014 Including 'Stay With Me' By ...
International Business Times AU, September 22nd

Sony's first transistor radio TR-55, which was produced 1955, is displayed at Sony's history museum in Tokyo February 23, 2012. The biggest challenge facing Sony's incoming chief executive Kazuo Hirai will be how to bridge a divide in his consumer ...Read more