All radios produced during the first half of the 20th century were tube radios, since transistors were not invented until 1947 and did not start to replace tubes in radios until 1954. Which means that whether your antique radio is a cathedral or a console, an Art Deco beauty made of wood or Bakelite, its guts are filled with tubes.

The originals of the vacuum tube, or valve as it’s called in the United Kingdom, dates to 1883, when Thomas Edison discovered that an electrical current could flow through a vacuum. This “Edison effect,” as it was called, was patented as the Edison Indicator. Then, in 1905, a former Edison employee named John Ambrose Fleming, who was working for Marconi Wireless in London, gave the invention a practical purpose when he patented an oscillation valve to visually detect radio signals. But weak radio signals required amplification, and they were better heard than seen, which is why Fleming’s breakthrough was eclipsed by Lee de Forest’s 1906 Audion, which not only boosted the signals, but eventually made them audible.

The first use for de Forest’s Audion was to boost signals in the nascent telecommunications industry. In 1913, AT&T was using Audions to help signals move along its growing network, and by 1914 the technology was mature enough that AT&T had bought the rights to have its Western Electric division manufacture vacuum tubes for everything from telephones to equipment for the U.S. Signal Corps. But the dominance of radio tubes took hold in 1919, when RCA began putting General Electric tubes in its receivers. In the decades that followed, companies like Philco, Sylvania, and Westinghouse also made tubes, which were used in their radios, as well as ones made by Atwater Kent, Crosley, Emerson, Stromberg, and Zenith.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Tube Radio Land

Tube Radio Land

Paul Turney's collection of tube radios from manufacturers like Zenith, Atwater-Kent, Philco, RCA, Emerson, Sparton… [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]

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]

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]

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    

1940 Scott Philharmonic, 30 Tube, Chrome Chassis, Working ConditionVintage 1949 Philco Boomerang Jetsons Atomic Mid Century Old Space Age Radio !Atwater Kent Ak Model 4660 Breadboard RadioVintage 1950s Emerson " Band Shell " Old Bakelite Radio & Automotive Dash ThemeAustralian Made Astor Gs Widows Peak Bakelite Valve Radio C1949Stunning 1936 Rca Model 9t-10 Tombstone Radio 9 Tubes Tuning Eye, Solid CabinetVtg (1938) 6-s-330 Zenith Tombstone Black Dial Tube Radio~ Beautiful CabinetVintage 50s Old Zenith Brass Symphony Hall Eames Design Am - Fm Tube Radio L@@kVintage Old Rca Bk-5a Art Deco Radio Best Sounding !! Ribbon Antique MicrophoneVintage 1920s Old Marconi Era Antique Steinite Pre Depression Era Crystal RadioVintage 1920s Near Mint Crosley Model 50 Museum Display Portable Antique RadioVintage Old 1930s Excellent General Electric Depression Era Bakelite RadioSilvertone Tube Radio (model 4563) ****restored****Silvertone 4465 Absolutely Beautiful 1930 Antique Radio1926 Grebe Mu-1 Battery Radio * Excellent, Working Synchrophase With Good TubesOld Westinghouse H-126 Little Jewel Refrigerator Vintage Tube Radio Bakelite Vintage Old Sylvania Radio Television Antique Lightup Glass Advertising SignVintage 1920s Lemco Old Antique Pre Depression Era Crystal Radio Receiver Vintage 1920s Old " Universal " Carbon Pre Depression Era Microphone & StandVintage Old Rca Art Deco Mid Century Radio Studio Ribbon MicrophoneVtg (1937) 6-s-223 Zenith Black Dial Tube Radio ~ Beautiful CabinetWorking But Unrestored Antique Philco 38-10 Deco Bullet Project RadioVintage 1930s Classic Old Crosley Cathedral Art Deco Depression Era RadioVintage 1940s Old Near Mint Emerson Antique Bakelite Radio Rare Color CabinetVintage Old Wood Antique Tube Radio Zenith Model 6s527 Very Pretty RadioVintage 1950s Art Deco Numechron Working Digital Old Clock Antique Mid Century Fada Bullett Bakelight Catalin Radio Model 1000 In Working Order Needs Work.Air-way Type F Receiving Set Serial No. 16928Antique Crosley Vintage Tube Radio Art Deco Restored And Working Rare Art Deco Fada 1000 Bullet Yellow With Red Trim Bakelite Tube Radio C. 1946 Vintage 1939 Old Zenith Art Deco Depression Era Antique Bakelite Tube Radio 1937 Silvertone 4666 Large All-wave 10-tube Table Radio1921 Radiola Rc - Westinghouse Ra/da Receiving Set For Display Or PartsOld Antique Wood Watterson Vintage Tube Radio - Restored & Working Table TopSessions Calendar Wall Regulator Atwater Kent Radio Advertising Store Clock AdStunning Vintage Retro Mid Century Maroon Sparton 132a Tube Am Radio ServicedVintage 1940s Old Antique Philco " Oval " Depression Era Art Deco Wood RadioVintage 20s Old Rca Victor Antique Radio Preforated Paper Facade Nipper SpeakerBeautiful Antique Amplion Ar19 Radio Speaker Horn Oak Wood Petals Old UntestedMega Rare Art Deco Hamilton Sangamo Synchronous Motor Clock W Bakelite C. 1940'sOld Antique Wood Philco Vintage Tube Radio - Restored Working Art Deco Table TopGorgeous 1940's Antique Art Deco Bakelite Tube Radio - Immaculate Beauty! G.e. Deco Bakelite Radio Gorgeous Restoration M-115, 5 Tube Excellent Player!!Vintage Antique 1937 Art Deco Stewart Warner Radio R-1811-a1934 Atwater Kent Radio Model 206, Atwater Kent Tombstone Radio Model 206** Estate Sale ** Stromberg Carlson Awp-8 Shortwave Radio ** No Reserve **Vintage 1970s Space Age Old Jvc Psychedelic Star Wars Analog Japanese TelevisionRare 1938 Bakelite Belmont Radio Co. Model 526 Tube Radio Art Deco Scotty RadioEmerson Model 141 Small Tombstone Tube Radio For Parts Or RepairVintage 1940 Silvertone 2441 Wood Table Tube Farm Radio W/ Original Box See Pic Vintage 1950 Pepsi Cooler Old Blue Bakelite Tube Radio-works!Vintage Old 1920s Vertical Tuner Marconi Era Crystal Pre Depression Era Radio Crosley 1937 Fiver Compact Wood Table Radio Model # 517 "real Looker"! Vintage 1930s Atwater Kent Gothic Depression Era Antique Rare Model Tube Radio Details About Rca Radiola Sr Senior Radio Type Rf In Excellent Condition Antique Monarch (by Detrola) Vintage Tube Radio Restored And WorkingVintage 1940s Old Antique Webster Art Deco Classic Type MicrophoneBeautiful Aw23 1930's E. H. Scott All Wave 23 W/ Nice Chrome - Rebuilt & WorkingVintage Philco Model 54c Tube Radio1934?Vintage 1950s Arvin Excellent White Midget Metal Case Mid Century Old Radio