Vintage Transistor Radios and Do-It-Yourself Radio Kits

by happynutritionist

Transistor Radios are still used, but not as much as they used to be, and often not for the same reasons. There is nothing like the look of a nice retro Transistor Radio!

My first transistor radio was one of the most exciting gifts I received as a child of the 1950's and '60's. It was during that time that transistor radios became widely available to the consumer. They were being developed earlier than the 1950's.

Transistor Radios were a transition from the old cumbersome tube radio to a design that was much smaller because it used transistors. Some transistor radios were small enough to be carried in a pocket..."pocket radios" were in.

This page contains a bit of radio nostalgia and history as well as current uses for transistor radios.

by Claudia Meydrech - happynutritionist
Image above and images below used with permission from Radio Museum
New on Wizzley - June 2015

My first radio

Just the way I remember it

The case was a bit thin, but did the job


I finally found the first Transistor Radio that I owned!

It is pictured above with and without the case

I have searched online to find the first transistor radio that I owned, and do believe I've finally found it, pictured above. I appreciate for giving me permission to use the photos. I received my radio in the 1960's. It was the aqua blue color you see in the picture, solid plastic front and back. To open it up to put in the 9 volt battery and see the workings inside, you took a coin and "twisted" the front and back apart from the bottom edge of the radio using a notch designed just for that purpose. It had dials on each side, one for volume, one to change the stations.  You viewed the stations through a little hole. I am sure my first was just an AM radio.

I can still remember opening the box, it fit snugly in the cardboard box. I'm sure I had the old style earphone, the white one that was on a long thin wire and went into one ear, but I think it broke early on, because I remember listening to my radio under my pillow with my head resting on the pillow in just the right spot when it was supposed to be off and we were supposed to be sleeping.

Dad was so delighted to be able to give my brother and I these radios, he was into electronics, and at that time, a transistor radio was a big deal for kids like us.

Transistor Radios first went

on the market for home

use in the mid-1950's but were

made affordable so many

could buy them in the 1960's.

Transistor Radio History

This is a quick list of a few transistor radio facts, and link to a more concise description of the history of the transistor radio.

  • Though many claimed to have produced the first transistor radio, it was Bell Laboratories that patented the first transistor and introduced a prototype transistor radio in 1948.
  • The Regency Transistor Radio was the first made in significant numbers for about $50, at that time a high price to pay....equal to hundreds of dollars today with inflation.
  • In the mid to late 1960's, many transistor radios where imported from Hong Kong at prices below $10 making the radio more affordable for the average consumer.

For a much more detailed history, visit this link at Wikipedia.

A large collection of Vintage Transistor Radios

This is not only fun to look at, but informative
Sony ICF-F10 Two 2 Band FM/AM Portable Battery Transistor Radio

FM / AM two band radio Big speaker - high power output Long battery life (up to 200 hours) Includes earphone jack for discreet listening Includes hand strap for easy carrying Us...

View on Amazon

Northpoint 190500 Retro Transistor

Embrace nostalgia with the Retro Transistor. The 1960-style AM/FM radio features rotary tuning, volume on/off control and a built-in 3.5mm headphone jack. An integrated carrying...

View on Amazon

We Still Use Our Transistor Radio

It came in handy during Hurricane Sandy

Transistor Radio's are still available in spite of the preference many have for digital music or listening to radios that may be part of their cell phones.

We still have an old short wave transistor radio that my grandfather gave us many years ago, and used it when we lost power for 11 days after Hurricane Sandy. It was on every waking hour to keep us informed as to what was happening out there in the world and in our own State, New Jersey, that was so drastically affected by the storm.

Current use of transistor radios is more than likely:

  • during times of disaster when there is no power and battery operated radio that doesn't need charging is necessary to keep up with the current news.
  • for camping trips or hikes into remote places where cell service is not available.
  • for those who like to collect old radios and enjoy the nostalgic pleasure of listening to them.

What is a Transistor?

Here is an explanation of the science of Transistors

Transistor Radios on Amazon

Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio, Silver

Sony, AM/FM Pocket Radio, For Portable Use, Built In Speaker, Earphone Jack, LED Tuning Indicator.

View on Amazon

Sony ICF38 Portable AM/FM Radio (Black)

Sony ICF38 Portable AM/FM Radio (Black) Large built-in speaker.Headphone Output(s) : 1,Power Requirements : AC 120V, 60Hz, or DC 6V.What's in the box: Sony ICF-38 Portable AM/FM...

View on Amazon

Sony All in One Compact Design Pocket Size Portable AM/FM Radio with Built-in Speaker, Earphone J...

Sony Pocket AM/FM Radio Sony's Pocket AM/FM Radio will fit easily into your shirt or jacket pocket for convenience and easy portability. The AM/FM Tuner lets you choose from the...

View on Amazon

Sony SRF59SILVER AM/FM Walkman Stereo Radio

The SRF-59SILVER AM/FM Walkman radio is so lightweight you can take it virtually anywhere. Delivering great sound in a small package, this stereo features an AM/FM tuner and an ...

View on Amazon

Building and Designing Transistor Radios

This book is a great resource
A beginner's guide to designing & building transistor radios: How t...

How to Make a Radio from Things Around the House

Start of a 3 Penny RadioI was surprised to find that you can make a radio from things around the house.

You may have to buy a few things, but generally, these are fun and easy things to make. They are great projects for the hobbyist as well as for keeping children entertained with something educational and fun.

Stop by and visit this link, and at the top of the page you'll find links to other radios you can the 3-Penny Radio, a part of which is pictured with permission.



Updated: 08/06/2015, happynutritionist
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happynutritionist on 09/05/2015

Yes @CruiseReady - definitely a great project for children...but their are more complicated kits for adults as well. You're never to old if it's something that interests you :-) Thank you for your visit!

CruiseReady on 08/31/2015

The little transistor radio I had as a child is long gone, but this article reminded me of it and its little leather cover. Not I am thinking what a great project it would be to build one, especially if that was a project done together with a youngster.

sheilamarie on 07/10/2015

I loved my transistor radio when I was a girl.

happynutritionist on 06/13/2015

@candy47 do you mean the exact same one I am showing that I received or as each other? I sure do wish I still had it today. It would be fun to see it "in person" again.

candy47 on 06/12/2015

I remember transistor radios! My best friend Evelyn and I got the exact same one as a gift for our First Holy Communion! And we squealed with joy!!!

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