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 1930s Old Stewart Warner Spade Art Deco Streamlined Depression Era RadioVintage Zenith 5s-319 Race Track Radio, Works.Vintage 1920s Old Near Mint Atwater Kent Antique Breadboard Radio Factory TagsVintage Old Antique Wood Table Top Tube Radio Zenith 5-s-320 1924 Atwater Kent Breadboard Radio W/good Tipped Tubes * Near Mint * Works GreatAntique Air Chief Tube Radio - Great ConditionVintage 1950 Old Arvin Hopalong Cassidy Cowboy Radio With A Western Theme FacadeVintage 1951 Old Mid Century Antique Atomic Retro Crosley Near Mint RadioVintage Marconi Era Old " Little Gem " Excellent Nickel Plated Crystal Radio Vintage Old 1920s Tower Brand Celluloid Bakelite Midget Radio Horn Speake L@@kVintage Streamlined Farnsworth Old Swirled Catalin Colors Bakelite Tube RadioZenith Model 5 S 319 Tabletop Am/sw "racetrack" Tube Radio Restored Plays GreatVintage Old 1938 Detrola Art Deco Grey Bakelite & Red Trim Midget Tube RadioVintage 1940s Fada Art Deco Old Antique Beautiful Color Catalin Bakelite Radio Vintage Old 1939 Machine Age Belmont Bakelite Radio Magnificent Modern,style Vintage Crosley Depression Era Art Deco Facade Antique Old Cathedral Tube Radio 1938 Silvertone Thombstone 3 Band Radio Model 4663 For Parts Repair UntestedRestored Antique Vintage Olympic 6501 Bakelite Deco Rare Tube Radio Works Great!Old Antique Wood Crosley Vintage Tube Radio - Restored & Working Mini TombstoneGorgeous Deco Wood Airline #62-317 Am & Sw Oval Dial Green Eye Chrome Chassis NrVintage 1920s Rca Westinghouse Radiola Type Rs Antique Tube Amplifier Radio Art Deco Zenith Oval Racetrack 5-s-320 Wooden Tube Radio From 1939 €Philco Radio "atomic Age" Stunner 5 Tube Red Retro Mid Century Working!Zenith 1938 Small Console RadioVintage 1950 Zenith Old Shortwave Analog Mid Century Working Transoceanic RadioVintage 1950s Old Shure Fat Elvis Microphone & Rare 3 Pin Plug + Tested & Works Vintage Old Western Electric 44" Tall Antique Wood Rotating Radio Loop AntennaZenith Radio Model 6d625 - Table Top Tube Radio - Excellent Original ConditionVintage Old 1920s Quali-tone Bakelite Bell & Cast Iron Base , Radio Horn SpeakerVintage Old 1940s Philco Radio Antique Near Mint 2 Sided Wood Advertising SignExceptional Original Rca Radiola 20 Ar-918 Tube Radio From 1925- NrVintage 1950s Old Grundig Streamlined Art Deco Cb Ham Radio Bakelite Microphone Restored Antique Vintage Zenith 6d030 Wood Deco Tube Radio Works Perfect!1934 Zenith Cathedral Tabletop Tube Radio Model #805Mint 1936 Tecalemit French Radio, Very Rare, Incredible Art Deco Design1936 Stewart-warner Ferrodyne Tabletop Tube Radio Model #r-142-as Plays Great!!!Old Antique Wood Majestic Vintage Tube Radio - Restored & Working Deco Table Top1922 Pink-a-tone "detector Of The Air" Crystal Radio * Exc. Cond. & All Original1931 Crosley €Zenith 9s-262 Chassis Shutter Dial Radio Restored!1935 Silvertone Cathedral Tabletop Tube Radio Model #1660Art Deco Zenith Wood 6d525 From 1941- Ingraham Cabinet Radio- Wooden Grill-worksBeautiful 1931 Atwater Kent Am Tube Radio Model 82 For Repair Or Restoration.Wonderful Emerson 744b Bandshell Mottled Black/brown & Latte/white Swirl-1954 NrBeautiful Red Belmont 6d111 Deco €Vintage Old Early 1951 Classic Zenith Bakelite Antique Telechron Clock RadioVintage 1920s Old Carbon Spring Double Button Nickel Plated Radio Microphone !!!General Electric G-106 Console RadioVintage 1940s Old Classical Antique Miniature Model Grand Piano Tube RadioVntg Telefunken Opus Superheterodyne Hi Fi Tube Am Fm Sw Transistor Radio WorksVintage Old Antique Art Deco Zenith 6d425 RadioVintage Old 1940s Westinghouse Bakelite & Top To Bottom Brass Trim Tube Radio !!Scott Console RadioVintage One Tube Radio, Kit?Vintage 1932 Kadette Historical Gothic Old Bakelite Radio Rare Antique ModelVintage Old Antique Wood Table Top Tube Radio Philco Model 38-14 (1938)Firth / Firco Vocaphone 235-a Wireless Radio Receiver Delco Bakelite Radio Gorgeous Deco "ribbon Candy" Model In Amazing Condition!! Zenith Model 5r-216 Black Dial Antique Tube Table Radio Long Distance. Working!!Zenith Transoceanic R520a/urr Military Receiver ( Parts Or Restore)