Friday, October 11, 2013

Toy Transmitters

This idea has really run it's course. With the new popularity of mobile devices with children, hearing their voice come out of the radio loses it's gestalt.With modern technology these transmitters can be the size of a grain of sand. A single component on the tiny circuit board inside your smartphone. But few smart phones have AM or FM transmitters. The iPod in particular actually had an FM tuner chip in the first series but Apple refused to enable it. They saw radio as their enemy. Free content is, and has always been, the enemy of paid content. For all of these forces and many others, these toys are now extinct.  Unless you want to build your own. More here.
Take Sonic Devices in Woodside, NY for example. They were selling the "world's smallest FM transmitter" and advertising it as "half the length of a regular length cigarette." This device was copyrighted in 1968 and advertised from 1970 to 1973 in Popular Mechanics. It was $19.95.  In 1976 they were even named  in federal hearing on Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance by a National Commission for the Review of Federal and State Laws Here was a tiny device hypothetically usable in espionage available for under $20. They stopped selling it in the mid 1970s and started advertising a "lie detector" it was just a galvanometer for $29. It's actually the same device as the Scientologists kooky e-meter. Sonic Devices seems to have closed up shop by 1979.

Imperial electronics was selling a less petite, but equally effective AM transmitter for $12.95 in the same era. Imperial dates back to at least 1968 (possibly as early as 1953), selling security gadgets like light-sensitive alarms. In 1970 they were selling another security gadget, this one using microwaves to detect motion.They too were named in those Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance hearings. But having a primary business in paranoid security devices they backed away slowly from the toy transmitter.