Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Transistor Radio and Google

Google just started using a branded transistor radio at a nice peice of schwag for their Audio Ads service. it's been off to a rocky start but the removal of the ill-suited dMarc founders I think has gotten things moving. The Clear Channel deal pretty much has proved that out. Anyway I dont know whose idea it is... but I want one.

It's got a sleek design reminiscent more of the later Sonys and less of the early Regency TR1 Transitor radios. I thought immediately it looked like a Beach boy radio (on left), a modern "retro" looking radio. But the Beachboy itself was very influenced by Realtone TR-1088 Comet, and the Sony TR-610. Now that I think of it the Valiant, (a Realtone variant) looks a lot like it...

Note the cool almost Rockabilly coffin shape, the art deco lines.. it's well done, and not over done. Like a later model Motorola, or mid-era Regency. That pic on the right there is from the most recent issue of Radio World for the record. Yes, you all should be reading it.

The dial looks a lot like the Sparton model 506 Blue Bird, a design I think was by or influenced by Walter Dorwin Teague at Brownie. This dial design predates the transistor radios by about two decades debuting in 1934. Regardless I think it's a nice homage. You can see it here. Just scroll down past all the box cameras.

The Regency was not the first transistor radio. It definitely was the first commercially successful transistorised radio, using junction transistors. But that's two caveats. There was one before them that was a commercial dud. More here.

In 1954 in Wireless World magazine ads ran for a transistorized receiver by General Electric Co., Ltd, of England. It was more of a kit, but the complexity of the circuit design shows that GEC had been developing the designs for a while. But little evidence of these previous circuit designs survive.

I'll cover more Transistor Radio lore tomorrow.