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

It's time Northern Ireland put Van Morrison on the map for tourists
Belfast Telegraph, July 30th

Van Morrison's two gigs next month at his old school Orangefield High in east Belfast are being seen as the singer giving something back to his old haunt. It's about time, Ivan Little argues, that the city properly signposted him to tourists...Read more

'Deadpool' Leaked Test Footage Was Real and It Was Spectacular
Mashable, July 29th

The clip opens with Deadpool in full red costume and mask, sitting on a highway overpass, while drawing with crayons and singing/swaying along to Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" on a cheap transistor radio marked "Wade" (Wade Wilson is his real name)...Read more

Out of the blue, a phone call and an old buddy's voice brightens the day
Kansas City Star, July 29th

Of course, who wouldn't bond when you're sitting in an armored vehicle on the edge of a sugar beet field with a transistor radio (Google it kids) and listening to a German version of “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Lucille.” Good times. And when...Read more

Sony seen as rejected from Japan shame index
Columbus CEO, July 29th

in 1946 in Tokyo's Nihonbashi district, Sony grew from a telecommunications-equipment maker with 190,000 yen in capital to a Fortune Global 500 company credited with helping popularize consumer electronics in the U.S. with Japan's first transistor...Read more

Summer memories
Shawnee News Star, July 27th

A transistor radio on the porch in the evening breeze with Harry and Jack was theater of the mind at its best. - Brian Blansett is publisher of The Shawnee News-Star. By Brian Blansett. The Shawnee News-Star. By Brian Blansett. Posted Jul. 27, 2014 @ 7...Read more

Baseball: Garagiola rings in long distance
Poughkeepsie Journal, July 26th

“Finally, I'd like to accept this award for every kid who has ever tucked a transistor radio under his pillow to listen to a game after his parents had made him go to bed,” Nadel said. “And all the kids who played Strat-O-Matic baseball, making believe...Read more

Congratulations Eric Nadel
Lone Star Ball, July 26th

For a little kid that loved baseball, buying baseball cards and calling out names of players for backyard wiffle ball games, to get some daily baseball, it was the radio. It was a small transistor radio and it gave me KMOX out of St. Louis with Harry...Read more

Canton woman tours Liverpool 50 years after Beatles concert
Hometownlife.com, July 26th

She listened to their music on a transistor radio and bought their albums. “I have always wanted to go see Liverpool,” she said. Wofford, her brother Bruce Jonasz of Novi and her 26-year-old daughter Olivia spent a week there this month, touring places...Read more