Cutting Edge Technology – 50 Years Ago!March 3, 2012
Late this afternoon my 10-year-old grandson made a proclamation to me: “Grandpa, I know what you can get me for Easter. An I-Pod.” A…. what? I’ve heard of them, but didn’t know precisely what their function was. Hunter explained it.
So I asked him, what’s wrong with a transistor radio.
His turn to go, “A….what?”
So I tried to explain to him and then, finally, started digging through containers in the basement and dug put two of my old ones. I dug out new batteries, stuck them in, and damned if they didn’t still work! AM!
(NOTE: They are both pictured here. Click images to enlarge!)
While mildly amused, and at first quite curious, within minutes he said, ‘So, is that all it does?”
After assimilating the information and demonstration, he wasn’t impressed.
But in 1965 I sure was!
For Christmas that year Mom got me my first transistor radio, a small Westinghouse, with an earpiece even! (It measures 2-1/2″ x 4-1/4″ x 1-1/4″). It was green with a green leather carrying case. I was thrilled. Now I could listen to WIXY, WHLO and the Mighty CKLW at night! Without borrowing my older sister Cheryl’s!
I loved that thing and used it constantly. Over the years I recall ending up with a several more transistor radios but none would ever replace that Westinghouse. It always worked, and always had a strong receiver.
I had one other transistor radio that I thought was pretty cool when I first got it, a Sunoco gasoline promotional radio that the stations were giving away if you bought so much gas. They were manufactured to look like Sunoco gas pumps. The Old Man came home one day in 1967 or ’68 with two of them, one for myself and one for my kid brother.
One thing that was pretty cool about the Sunoco radio in ’67 or ’68 was the pump numbers changed as you moved the tuning knob. It was made in Hong Kong.
Having a transistor radio in the 60’s is comparable today of having a cell phone, or Iphone or SmartPhone or whatever the hell they are calling them this week. Transistor radios were first developed in 1954 and soon became the most popular electronic communication device in history, with billions manufactured during the 1960s and 1970s. Of course, it won’t be long and may have already happened, that today’s ‘cell phone’ has eclipsed that.
One thing’s for certain, those small radios communicated to an entire generation during the 60’s. It was the major media for the young generation of the 60’s and it’s impact is likely immeasurable.
42 years ago, in 1970, the last assembly line producing transistor radios in America shut
down. The Zenith Trans-Oceanic 7000 was the last American-made transistor radio on the market.
(c)2012 Doc Lehman/Bangagong!