Transistor Radios Around the World

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Transistors in The Times:

The New York Times still remains one of the only major newspapers offering a complete online archive — I've made copies below of the nineteen articles I’ve found concerning transistors and transistor radios. Early articles (1948-1958) poignantly display their times in their emphasis on possible military applications, suggestions of computer applications, and predictions of commercial uses for the transistor; and later articles chronicle the rise of Japan as a leader in the electronics world as well as public irritation over the noise pollution caused by transistor radio users.

July 1, 1948: First mention in the New York Times of the transistor — The transistor was introduced to Times readers in a column entitled, "The News of Radio" — it was mentioned in the last of ten news items covered in the column, preceded by all the latest news about radio programming of the week.

August 2, 1948: "PACK MAY BE LIGHTENED — Walkie-Talkie Device to Ease Load for Soldiers" —A very short article about how transistors may be used to make military walkie-talkies lighter in weight.

January 13, 1952: "TINY TUBE EXCITES ELECTRONICS FIELD — Experts See 'Transistor,' Size of Corn Kernel, as Basis of Giant New Industry" — Yep, they called the transistor a "tiny tube" here — this 1952 article covers the many promises the transistor has to offer, including its potential to revolutionize the field of computing.

March 4, 1952: First military application of the transistor demonstrated — A "converter" for teletype transmissions demonstrated by the Signal Corps Lab at the 1952 Institute of Radio Engineers convention.

December 15, 1953: "Debut of World's Smallest Radio on Times Square" — The RCA "prototype" radio shown here doesn't look anything like the prototype radio sold on eBay in 2014 — according to this article, this was an actual radio shown to passersby on Times Square, and there's no reason to doubt that. So how many prototypes did RCA make?

April 17, 1953: "Zenith finds Flaw in Transistor Hearing Aid"

October 10, 1954: "Transistor Revolution" — An editorial proclaiming the prospects of the transistor, noting among other things that "not so long ago scientists were afraid computers were reaching their maximum size limits." On another front, Regency announced its release of the TR-1 eight days later.

June 24, 1956: "Transistor Boom Hardly Begun" — A report on transistor production costs and current electronic product prices compared to products still using vacuum tubes. Among the news here is agreement among certain "transistor men" that "the vacuum tube will never die."

June 3, 1957: "Electronics Lag Found in Soviet (Union), 10 Years Needed to Equal U.S. Output, Says Engineer Back From Inspection" — "in the transistor field they are quick to admit that they are in a very early stage of development and cannot compare to the United States."

December 29, 1958: "Midget Devices Getting Smaller" — first mention of integrated circuits

January 13, 1959: "Japanese Attain Electronics Lead": “To meet the near-boom demands in the United States for Japanese-made transistor radios, cargo planes were chartered for shipments before the [1958] Christmas season.”

May 3, 1959: "U.S. Radio Makers May Import Parts — Low-Cost Units From Japan Slated to Be Sold Under American Brands":
“American makers of transistor portable radio sets may import Japanese receivers for the first time this year and sell them here under well-known domestic brand names.” — Among a number of significant news bits, this article highlights the Motorola X11 as America's first Japan-made shirt-pocket radio, though not naming it by model number.

July 19, 1959: "Outsiders Tune In — Japan Expands Manufacture of Radio, TV Sets and Parts for Sale Here"
“In particular, the Japanese have made strong headway in transistor radios. One large American concern has been quoted as saying it has lost 50 per cent of its domestic market to Tokyo.”

September 2, 1959: "Exports of Transistor Radios By Japan to Double This Year"
“Exports of Japanese transistor radio sets will reach 4,000,000 units in 1959, or twice as many as last year…. More than half the radios are expected to be sold in the United States.”

May 10, 1960: "Japan Curbs Exports of Transistor Radios"

May 27, 1960: "RCA Chief Frowns on Tariff Increase"

September 16, 1960: "Small Radios, Versatile Too" — an "article" that's essentially an advertisement for two Toshiba radios

December 2, 1962: "Transistor Resisters" — British citizens can't take the noise! — two cartoons included

October 6, 1967: "Sic Transistor"The New York Times editorial staff has had enough!


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