Vintage Micro Radio

Chapter Nine

 

Perhaps the the most desired micro radio for collectors, the Belmont Boulevard, was announced December, 1945 and went on sale in 1946, my birth year, 8 years prior to the worlds’ first transistor radio, the Regency TR-1 in 1954. It was hard to imagine that a radio with this degree of miniaturization could be produced in 1946! This radio used five miniature tubes. It had no speaker, just the supplied earphone. Wrapped in leather with brass accents it looks amazing even today, 67 years later. According to the book “The Portable Radio in American Life” by Michael B. Schiffer, this radio was not a sales success, selling only 5000 units. Problem was, the 5 tubes created a huge drain on the 2 penlight cells. One had to change batteries during the 7th inning of a baseball game in order to hear the entire game. Additionally, off the self parts were used instead of custom designed parts and the radio had mediocre sound quality. In the photos, I do not see ventilation openings. We know that tubes produce heat and I wonder about heat build-up which could potentially shorten the life of this radio. Nevertheless, would love to find one to add to my collection. This radio is very rare and I know of only seven in existence. Do you have one? Contact me. I’d like more information to post here.

Here is a promotional advertisement in the December 5, 1945 issue of Life magazine.

1946 Belmont Boulevard
1946 Belmont Boulevard
1946 Belmont Boulevard
1946 Belmont Boulevard

I found this advertisement from the Pittsburg Post-Gazette newspaper, dated December 13, 1946.

Belmont Boulevard Advertisement
Belmont Boulevard Advertisement
Belmont Boulevard Advertisement
Belmont Boulevard Advertisement

This low resolution photo from the February, 1946 issue of Popular Science Magazine shows the serrated engravings on the on/off/volume and tuning knobs as well as the top and bottom brass acents together with a clip to hold the radio securely in a shirt pocket. This design conforms to the example depicted in the original artist rendering in the above advertisement. The example shown in the next photo below, omits this style, which in my opinion does not look as good. The set measures 6″H x 3″W x 5/8″D and weighs 10oz.

Belmont Boulevard 1946 courtesy Popular Science Magazine
Belmont Boulevard 1946 courtesy Popular Science Magazine

And here is an actual, well preserved model courtesy of Eric Wrobble.

1946 Belmont Boulevard
1946 Belmont Boulevard courtesy of Eric Wrobble.
Regency TR-1 _WP
Regency TR-1

October 16, 2011:  This section displays my early transistor radios. Back in the fifties, owning a transistor radio was new, exciting and desirable. After all, the first transistor radio was the Regency TR-1 introduced in 1954.

1959 Motorola X 11 Black. This is my first childhood transistor radio, the 1959 Motorola X 11 Black, given as a gift in that same year. Somewhere along the line, it was discarded or lost. I found one recently in 2010 in near perfect condition, brushed, polished chrome and gold finishes. Magnified, glass station lens, deep engraved lettering, not painted on, a nicely detailed, gem of transistor radios from 1959. It performs well. Happy to be reunited with this set.

Motorola X 11 Radio photographed August 24, 2010
Motorola X 11 Radio photographed August 24, 2010

Next,

1962

Sony TR 817

This is my second transistor radio, the Sony TR 817 from 1962. 1962 was my second year of High School. It has eight transistors and a tuned R.F. stage. Sony called it super sensitive and considered it their high end model back then. It has a unique signal strength meter and a spring loaded push button, on-off switch, at the top. The letters ” ON ” appear red in the right hand window or ” OFF ” as in the photo below. High, low tone control, deep engraved, lettering and highly detailed, I remember this radio as the most advanced looking thing I’d seen back then. Bought the radio new but again, mis-placed it. Found this example in February, 2011, 49 years after the original and very fortunate to find a pristine working set. It indeed, is sensitive, loud and clear. The cabinet face is brushed metal without dents or scratches and the gray plastic cabinet is still polished and shiny in it’s original condition. Also have the original gray leather case, strap and ear phone pouch that came with the set. Measures 4 1/4 ” H x 2 1/2 ” W x 1 7/16 ” D. It did not get much better then this one in 1962.

The slogan or tag line, ” IT’S A SONY ” and ” SONY ONE AND ONLY ” were the company’s, registered, branded, trademarks. The company placed small, red or yellow dot decals on the products they released in the 1980’s and 90’s. Indeed, Sony was and continues to be the premier electronic brand with many firsts and innovations.

Sony TR 817 photographed October 17, 2011
Sony TR 817 photographed October 17, 2011

Next,

1964

SONY TFM-825 AM FM

This is my third transistor radio, second Sony, acquired while in fourth year of high school. Well preserved over the years, the cabinet is scratch free and the radio operates well over both radio bands. The radio measures 4 7/16″ H x 2 7/8″ W x 1 5/16″ D and operates on a 9 volt battery. Sensitive tuners with loud, clear reception from it’s oversize oval speaker. Very high quality construction and I have the black leather case in excellent condition.

Sony TFM 825 photographed October 17, 2011
Sony TFM 825 photographed October 17, 2011
Sony TFM 825 photographed October 17, 2011
Sony TFM 825 photographed October 17, 2011

Next,

1964

Sony TR-8

The original Sony micro transistor radio from 1964. A remarkable achievement in miniaturization, hand soldered, 8 transistor circuit. Because the entire back lid opened to access the batteries just like a 35 mm analogue camera, this radio was nick named the Sony micro camera radio. We consider this radio to be one of the most beautiful transistor radios ever made. It looks like jewelry attached to it’s key fob chain and medallion. This radio is barely larger then the below Sony IC-100 integrated circuit radio which came 3 years later, measuring 2 3/16″ W x 1 9/16″ H x 13/16″ D. Weighs 4 oz. Speaker size: 1 1/2″.

Tap or click on images for full size.

Sony TR-8 photographed November 27, 2014
Sony TR-8 photographed November 27, 2014
Sony TR-8 photographed November 28, 2014
Sony TR-8 photographed November 28, 2014
Sony TR-8 photographed November 28, 2014
Sony TR-8 photographed November 28, 2014

Next,

1965

PANASONIC RADAR MATIC SIGNAL SEEKING AM TRANSISTOR RADIO

10 transistor, coat pocket size signal seeking AM radio measures 7 7/8″ W x 4 1/8″ H x 1 3/4″ D. Tap on the auto tuning bar at the top of set and the tuner searches for the next active station. Mechanical, wind up lever at the rear of set powers the auto tune function. The radio can be manually tuned and has a 3 position sensitivity switch. Earphone and external power inputs and the radio uses 4 standard AA batteries. The set still plays loud and clear with no static over the many years of ownership.

Panasonic R 1000 Radar Matic photographed November 21, 2011
Panasonic R 1000 Radar Matic photographed November 21, 2011
Panasonic R-1000 Radar Matic photographed November 21, 2011
Panasonic R-1000 Radar Matic photographed November 21, 2011

Next,

1965

Standard Micronic Ruby SR-Q460F

A very beautiful solidly built and heavy radio for its size. An abundance of polished chrome and premium materials adds to the heft of this radio. I acquired this set in 1965, just after graduating high school. We kept the set well preserved in its hard clam shell presentation case for decades. It looks and operates like new and measures (WHD) 2.4 x 3.2 x 1.1 inches. This model was the smallest AM/FM radio of its time period.

Standard used letters immediately after “SR” in its model numbers to indicate the transistor count. Since “Q” is the 17th letter of the alphabet, it indicates 17 transistors in this model. The photos below and especially the third one, help to show the premium handcrafted construction of this radio.

Tap or click on images for full view.

Standard Micronic Ruby in case large WP
Standard Micronic Ruby SR-Q460F photographed November 29, 2014
Standard Micronic Ruby 1 large WP
Standard Micronic Ruby SR-Q460F photographed November 29, 2014
Standard Micronic Ruby back large WP
Standard Micronic Ruby SR-Q460F photographed November 29, 2014

Next,

1966

Standard Micronic Ruby SRK 466F

Very nice quality 11 transistor AM-FM Stereo Radio from 1966. Automatic frequency control and the stereo beacon lights when a stereo FM station is tuned. A stereo earphone jack with AM-FM switch is located in the rear of the cabinet. The radio measures 3 3/16″ H x 2 1/2″ W x 1 5/16″ D and uses 3 Mercury cells: Eveready E 640 or Mallory RM 640. The unit is presented in a satin lined, clam shell style hard case. Mint condition with strong reception.

Standard Micronic Ruby photographed March 4, 2013
Standard Micronic Ruby photographed March 4, 2013
Standard Micronic Ruby photographed March 4, 2013
Standard Micronic Ruby photographed March 4, 2013

Next,

1967 and 1969

Sony ICR 100 and ICR 120

The Sony ICR 100, world’s first integrated-circuit radio. A single IC is used, incorporating 14 transistors (with four diodes) and 14 resistors. It is packaged in a matchbox-sized case weighing a mere 90 g. A key chain holder with medallion is attached instead of a strap. The two-tone black and silver color scheme is beautiful and elegant, an electronic device that looks like jewelery. A rechargeable NiCad battery enabled six hours of continuous playback on a single 14-hour charge. This radio was given to me as a Birthday gift in 1967 by my girlfriend and now wife of 44 years.

The model ICR 120 (background) was introduced two years later in 1969, smaller still, but lacks the ultimate quality and craftsmanship of the original ICR 100 in my opinion. Both these models have built in speakers, the ICR 100 speaker is oval and the ICR 120 is round. Both models have docking stations for recharging their internal NiCad batteries. The ICR 120 was reported to be the smallest radio in the world at time of introduction and this model recently sold at a Ebay auction in August, 2011 for $351.00. The photo below show the original radios from 1967 and 1969. Click on image for full view.

Sony ICR 100 and ICR 120 photographed October 19, 2011
Sony ICR 100 and ICR 120 photographed October 19, 2011

ADDITIONAL MODELS WILL POST SOON.

Next, Classic Audio.