1930s & 40s
1940s & 50s
1950s & 60s
1970s & 80s
1990s & present
In the early 1920s, the "wireless" was made of separate parts: a wooden box
with dials and terminals containing the tubes and circuitry, a separate horn
speaker or head phones, an outdoor antenna, and large accumulators (batteries)
which had to be recharged often. The untidiness of the wireless began a trend
to disguise it as a piece of everyday furniture to make it more appealing.
In the 1930s, beautifully crafted self-contained
with large glass tubes and
dials were the thing to have. These AC-DC powered radios came in large polished
mahogany and walnut cabinets, and were heavy to move around. With the advent
of plastics, Bakelite became the favorite among many radio manufacturers who
exploited its fine moulding properties to produce
with exciting and innovative
By the late 1940s, wooden radios had disappeared to be replaced
by Bakelite, Plaskon and Catalin
sets". Portable radios, which were already available in the late 30s, gave way
to smaller and sleeker portable sets
miniature tubes. These sets were easier to carry about, but still required heavy
batteries and were not economical to use.
With the introduction of the
transistor in the early 1950s, the bulky tube radios disappeared and were replaced
with smaller transistor radios
that could fit in
a shirt pocket or purse. These radios were icons of technological triumph and
dominated the market until the late 1960's.
With the advent of integrated
circuits and digital electronics in the 1970s and 1980s, transistor radios slowly
disappeared and sophisticated multi band radios
with integrated circuits and LCD displays emerged on the market. Will these
radios be considered antiques and sought after by collectors 50 years from now?
Time will tell.