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

Merge Records' Laura Ballance curates a 25-hour playlist of the label's best LPs
A.V. Club Milwaukee, July 24th

Obviously we tried as much as we could—with all the 7-inches we'd done the same thing, we'd send it to all the zines we regularly got reviews in, and send it to a few radio stations, but that was about it. AVC: What was it about Polvo that made you...Read more

Sirens and solidarity when rockets fly from Gaza to Israel
Haaretz, July 24th

Several neighbors are already there, including one with a transistor radio, so we huddle around him, trying to hear some news. Also present is the woman who rules our building with an iron hand, and with whom I've recently had a major disagreement...Read more

This Normal Life: Why'd you want to live here, anyway?
Jerusalem Post, July 24th

of the Jerusalem International YMCA, has performed all over the country – including singing backup for veteran Israeli guitarist and peace activist David Broza's Israel radio-chart-topping cover of “(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and...Read more

Vin Scully And The Soul Of The Crowd
The Federalist, July 24th

When my Dad listened with transistor radio to his ear, it sometimes looked like he was on the phone with Scully. “Dominic said he had given up on his lifelong dream of marriage and family until he was 46 years old and met his soon-to-be wife, Mary...Read more

After 36 seasons, Eric Nadel to be honored for 'special relationship' with ...
Dallas Morning News, July 23rd

With a transistor radio under his pillow, he bonded with a distant voice. But in 1974, Michaels left the Reds for the San Francisco Giants. And now with Michaels within arms length, Clooney wanted an answer. It had been a matter of money, Michaels...Read more

One Chester family remembers their beloved mother
Village News Online, July 23rd

When Hildwin was caught he had one of Cox's rings on him and a transistor radio and her checkbook he had stolen. Her daughters both maintain he would've had to have killed her in order to get the ring off of her hand. The little pearl ring that...Read more

With a Little Help From Our Friends
IEEE Spectrum, July 23rd

William Shockley, one of the three inventors of the transistor and a former boss of Noyce and Moore, wrote a turgid feature we published in 1966 called “Articulated Science Teaching and Balanced Emphasis.” The article is interesting today mainly for a...Read more

Glorious days of the transistor radios revisited in Exeter
Exeter Express and Echo, June 30th

If you remember listening to Radio Luxembourg under the pillow or dancing in the park to the sounds of your “tranny” then you will love Geoff Stow's exhibition at Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Connoisseur collector Geoff, from Pennsylvania...Read more