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    

Vintage 1950s Rca Victor Radio Tube Lightup Antique Advertising Art Deco Sign 1934 Majestic "park Avenue" Model 886 Art Deco Console Radio. Original Finish.Antique 1931 Atwater Kent Radio Model 82 Restored And Working And Magnificant4 Tube Vintage " The Music Circle" Radio , The Radial Mfg. Co. Akron Ohio L@@k1916 Loose Coupler Crystal & Audion Radio From Legendary H. Greenwood CollectionVintage 40s Massive Mid Century Old Classic Fat Elvis Antique Turner Microphone1875 Partrick & Carter Telegraph Key & Sounder * Antique Bug * Original & NiceAntique Vintage Crosley Tube Radio Wood Wooden Model Speed Boat Speedboat Vintage 1920s Lemco Old Antique Pre Depression Era Crystal Radio Receiver Old Antique Wood Philco Vintage Tube Radio - Restored Working Art Deco Table TopVintage 1950s Bakelite Digital Clock , Nice Marbled Swirls & Silver Color TrimArt Deco Radio In Oval Wood Cabinet ~ Made By Silver ~ Plant A Radio ~ Nice OneEmerson Wood Radio Model Ax 212 C 1938 Ingraham Cabinet 1924 Music Master Horn Radio Speaker W/original Gold-veined Paint * GorgeousVintage 1920s Old Stradivarius Antique " Timbertone " Violin Radio Horn Speaker Vintage 1939 Old Classic Zenith Ornate Art Deco Bakelite Tube Radio & No CracksVintage 1940s Arvin Rare Green Color Radio Virgin Unused & Original Matching BoxVintage 1939 Firestone Beautiful Art Deco Bakelite Radio Swirled Catalin Colors Vintage 1920s Old Pre Depression Antique Cast Iron Magnificent Radio MicrophonePhilco Radio Beautiful Bakelite Original Prewar Pt-2 1941 Classic Working 5 TubeSuper Rare Working 1941 Zenith 5g537 Farm Table Tube Radio ~ Only 4,000 MadeAntique Vintage.beautiful Zenith Tube Radio With Bakelite KnobsRestored Antique Vintage Silvertone 4563 Wood Deco Tube Radio Works Perfect !1920 Nesco Junior Crystal Radio Wireless Receiving Set W/spare Concert Crystal Vintage 1950s Old Shure Multi Impedance Antique Microphone & Working !Vintage 1924 Atwater Kent Model 4560 Breadboard Radio...amazing ConditionVintage 1940s Cool Looking Working Microphone On Its Vintage Table Stand L@@kVintage Old 1950s General Electric Blue Bakelite Mid Century Retro Clock RadioVintage 1930s Old " Us Gloritone " Classic Antique Working Cathedral Tube RadioAntique 1937 Philco Am & 2 Sw Bands Radio Model 37-610 Restored And WorkingMint 1934 Tecalemit French Radio, Very Rare, Incredible Art Deco DesignVintage 1955 Antique Harpers Miniature Tube Old Antique Japanese Radio Bakelite Stewart Warner 140-1 Tombstone Beautiful Condition And Playing Well !!!!!!!!! Near Mint 1959 Braun Sk 2 / Designed By Artthur Braun & F Eichler Vintage Magnavox Phonograph Horn Speaker Untested New Old Stock No Reserve!!!!!!Vintage 1930s General Electric Antique Wood Art Deco Old Radio & Plays GreatFirestone Air ChiefBeautiful Old 1950's Crosley Tube Bakelite Am Radio Restored Works FantasticVintage 1940s Excellent Art Deco Old Webster Antique Microphone & Matching Base Vintage Rare Climax Broadcast Shortwave Tube Radio Police Band Neat!Vintage Bakelite "awa Radiola" Australian Valve Radio WirelessAntique 1953 Emerson Mid-century Radio Model 744 Works & Looks GreatVintage 1920s Old Rca Westinghouse Marconi Era Wireless Crystal Radio ReceiverVintage Rare Emerson Patriot Blue 400 Radio Catalin Receiver Tube Antique Amp Rca Model 115 Skyscraper Shaped Radio Beautiful And PlayingAntique 1937 Truetone Radio Model D-723 Looks Great & It Works! Art Deco StyleRca Tube Radio Gorgeous Deco Bakelite "nipper" M-1x C-1940 5 Tube Working NiceVintage 1940s Dewald Near Mint Rare Midget Art Deco Old Marbled Bakelite Radio Vintage Antique Grebe Type Cr-5 Tube Radio S/n 254Vintage Tube Lamp Radio Bronze Enamel FinishAntique Emerson Vacuum Tube Radio Model 169 Am And Short Wave Vintage 1950s Atomic Jetson Emerson Old Bakelite Clock Radio Modernistic JetsonsVintage, Old, Antique, Table Top, Tube Radio : Truetone, Model D1002Antique Dewald Table Top Radio Model # 512Vintage 1924 Atwater Kent Model 4700 10 C Breadboard Radio...amazing Condition!1939 Motorola Catalin Plastic Radio. 5 Tubes. Great Condition. Collectible AntiqFada Bakelite RadioVintage 1940s Fada Art Deco Old Magnificent Depression Era Antique Radio & Plays Rare & Original Super-excellent1922 G. Marconi "marconiphone V-2 Era MarconiVintage 1940s Astatic Radio Art Deco Chrome " Bullet " Old Microphone & Works