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]



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Recent News: Transistor Radios

Source: Google News

He was a friend of mine
Idaho State Journal, February 13th

As we grow older, we begin to lose friends. It is one consequence of living longer. I met Marshall Salzman in San Francisco, sometime in the late '60s. I was living in a flat on Market Street, and while playing guitar one afternoon, I looked up to see...Read more

The phony in American politics: how voters turn into suckers
The Guardian, February 13th

Incantations that render large chunks of the electorate as dazed and vulnerable as pre-contact tribesmen from the deepest Amazon hearing a transistor radio for the first time. If O'Daniel could be said to incarnate the phony as media celebrity and man...Read more

'Pacific' spins a yarn about 'behemoth of eye-watering complexity'
MyStatesman.com, February 12th

From the melancholy saga of Bikini and its hydrogen bomb tests, Winchester segues “in a more cheerful vein” to Sony Corporation co-founder Masaru Ibuka, the engineering genius behind the first Japanese transistor radio (and later Trinitron and Walkman) ...Read more

World Radio Day Highlights Role in Times of Disaster
Radio World, February 11th

In the case of an emergency or disaster, it is still a good idea however to have an old transistor radio at hand because roads, houses and material may be destroyed and even one's cellphone battery may run out. But there will still be the need to get...Read more

It is a simple, minimalist design that inspired many other products
Financial Times, February 5th

The T3 transistor radio created by German industrial designer Dieter Rams for the electronics brand Braun is one exceptional example. Designed in 1958, when a pocket-sized radio was a high-tech development, the T3 is a plain white box that measures 8cm ...Read more

Transistor lets you listen to radio stations on your device
Android Community, February 4th

For those who were born way beyond the period where Transistor was a common word, it refers to a kind of radio where people listened to shows and music, way before there was a computer that can do so as well. And now it is a bare-bones, no frills app ...Read more

Local band revives old sounds
Stoutonia, January 25th

As Marvin Gaye once sang in his song What's Goin' On?, “You know we've got to find a way to bring some lovin' here today. You know we've got to find a way to bring some understanding here today.” And that is exactly what the band Transistor Radio hopes ...Read more

Shehu Sani distributes 100, 000 transistor radio
P.M. News, January 24th

The Senator Representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, on Sunday in Kaduna commenced the distribution of one hundred thousand transistor radio sets in seven local government areas under his senatorial district. He said the gesture was to raise the ...Read more