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]

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]

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]

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]

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]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Stunning Rare Crown Tr-800 Transistor Radio Working & Turquoise Reverse PaintedVintage 1950s Old Benida Antique Japanese Mid Century Transistor RadioVintage Old " Cetron "antique Rare Gas Station Pump Transistor New In Box Radio Vintage Toshiba Transistor Red Lace Pocket Radio Tr-193 Japan W/case HtfVintage 1958 Jet Age Emerson 888 Retro Mid Century Antique Old Transistor RadioVintage Truetone Transistor Deluxe Radio Western Auto No. 3b6465 Rare BlueVintage Old 1950s Petite Atomic Logo Reverse Painted Japanese Transistor Radio Toshiba Model Tr-193 Red Lace Transistor RadioVintage 1958 Jet Age Emerson 888 Retro Mid Century Antique Old Transistor RadioZenith Royal 500 Portable Transistor Radio With Case Vintage 1950s Old Japanese Antique Toshiba Chrome Trim Rare Transistor Radio Vintage 195os Aqua General Electric Antique Mid Century Working Transistor RadioVintage Zenith Royal 500 "owl Eyes" Transistor Radio, MaroonVintage Zephyr Transistor Radio Model Ar-60060s Quelle Suedfunk Simonetta 93936 Transistor Multi Band Portable Radio AlcantrVintage Model 849 1955 Emerson 6 Transistor Am Radio Plays, RareVintage 1950s Old Truetone Antique Japanese Mid Century Transistor Radio1969 Grundig Satellit 210 Transistor 6001 Am/fm & Sw Multiband & Mains AdapterRaytheon T100 Transistor RadioVintage Lot Of 3 Japan Am Pocket Transistor RadiosVintage Tubeless Zenith Royal 500 Portable Transistor Radio With Case Red MaroonVintage Olympic All Transistor Model Tr 601 RadioVintage Zenith Royal 750 Transistor Am Portable Radio - WorksVintage Transistor Radio Portable Russian Soviet Orbita Rrr Rare ColorMarvel Vinitage 2 Transistor Pocket Radio - WorksRoss Supreme 7 Transistor Clock Radio Model Re-807 ( Ross Play-rite )Vintage Transistor Radio Zenith Arvin Airline Ge Receiver Recorder Scanner LotRca Victor Vintage Transistor Radio, Mdel 9-bt-9jVintage Old 1960s Antique 1869 Horse Drawn Fire Engine Transistor Radio & Works Vintage Silvertone No 6 Transistor Mint Green Radio And CaseNos Admiral Imeriral 8 Transistor Radio. Works Vintage Rca Victor Deluxe Transistor RadioZenith Royal 59-1 Transistor Radio From The Early 60s With Original Box/extrasVintage Westinghouse 8-transistor Radio ( Working Condition )Vintage Nordmende Galaxy Mesa 6606 West Germany Shortwave Ac/dc Transistor RadioTransistor Radio Repair Tools And Parts Nos/ Used Must SeeVintage Mattel Barbie 6 Transistor Vanity Fair Solid State Portable Radio - PinkVintage Stellar 2 Transistor Radio Japan Working Boys Radio With BoxVintage Emerson Nevabreak Pocket Radio 888 8 Transistor BlackKlh Model Twenty-one Table Transistor Radio Brilliant Sound Fidelity!Vintage Nobility Solid State Radio 7 Transistors X100kc 1950- '60s. KoreaVintage Zenith Royal 500 Transistor Radio W/ Case & Earpiece Nice Works GreatVintage Tourqouse Realtone Model Tr-1088 8 Transistor Radio, Works PartsVintage Channel Master Model 6506 Six Transistor Radio W/ Case & Accessories BoxVintage Black Magnavox Model Am-60 Transistor Radio A++ ConditionVintage Spica St-600 Transistor Pocket Radio Black, W/leather Case Works!**wonderful 1950s Columbia Transistor Six Radio Leather Case Japanese Working**Vintage Toshiba 6p-15 -- 6 Transistor Radio With Leather Case Full Working CondVintage Grundig Concert-boy Transistor 4000 Boombox Radio ! Parts Or RepairSony Tfm-1000w 14 Transistor Radio Super Sensitive Fm Am 4 Band Solid State RareLot Of 15 Vintage Transistor Radio Radios - All Work!Silvertone Vintage Transistor Radio Mdel 9202/92031950s Rca Victor Transistor Radio Model 8-bt-7le Winsome Turquoise/cream ColorRare Candle Wtr-86 Transistor Radio, With Seiko Alarm Clock, Good Working CondVintage Zenith Royal 275 Transistor RadioOriginal Vintage Panasonic Toot A Loop R-72 Transistor Radio Red $9.95 No ReservVntg 50's 60’s Rca Transistor Am/fm Radio Model # Rzm 141b Autumn Bronze/snowVintage Channel Master 6515 / 8 Transistor Radio Portable Cherry RedVintage Transistor RadiosCrown Six Transistor Tr-670 Radio As Is Not Working Japan Rare Red Collectible