When transistor radios came onto the media scene, there were only a few mediums to receive media through. Consumers were given the option of print, tube radio, cinema, or television. None of these mediums being very portable, there was room in the market for smaller, cheaper, and more reliable technology. As companies tried to be the first to create something that met those requirements, the transistor was created; leading to the creation of the transistor radio. Transistor radios were the beginning of a new wave of technology.
The first transistor was demonstrated in the United States by Bell Laboratories on December 23rd, 1947. The summer of the next year, they held a news conference to demonstrate a transistor radio prototype. It has been highly debated who is the true creator of transistor radios. Many believe credit should be given to a company called Intermetall, who demonstrated a model of a transistor radio in 1953 at the Dusseldorf Radio Fair in Germany. Although, this company does not actually stand out as the creator because their model was just a prototype and was never mass produced for the market. Even though some Japanese companies attempted to beat them to it, it was two American companies, Texas Instruments and Industrial Development Engineering Associates (I.D.E.A.), who first mass produced the radios for sale with the Regency TR-1 on October 18, 1954. This prompted the creation of the company Regency in order to continue with the design of transistor radios.
Although the radios were originally created in America, Japanese companies closely followed with lower prices and more attractive designs for their radios. Many American companies chose to have their radios made in Japan while maintaining their American brand names in order to keep lower labour costs while achieving these new designs.. Some of the brands that chose to do this included: Motorola, RCA, G.E., Zenith, and Philco, along with several other lesser known brands. One of the more well-known Japanese brands that attempted to create a transistor radio around the time that the Regency TR-1 was released was the brand Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo. The release of their radio was a great help to Japan’s economy and image post-WWII and they eventually changed their name so it was easier for Americans to pronounce. They changed their name to Sony.
Information about labourer conditions has not been disclosed however, it is known that before the Regency TR-1 was produced, transistors themselves were difficult to produce because they were sensitive to moisture and the wires attached to germanium crystals were quite fragile. At the time, only one in five transistors that were produced worked as they should have so the cost of producing them was extremely high. Transistors had been chemically unstable and were only suitable for low-power, low-frequency applications; these problems were later erased as transistors continued to be developed and used in the radios. The Regency TR-1 was very expensive for consumers to run because of issues with high radio frequency and it was often purchased more for its novelty than its actual performance.
Transistor radios were originally advertised as an aid to consumers in times of war. People who had purchased one could tune into the Civil Defense stations designated by tiny triangles on the tuning dials for updates during times of crisis. As time went on, producers of transistor radios began to target upscale consumers to increase their sales profit. By targeting upscale consumers, they are attempting to create the image that they are selling a luxury item that everyone should desire to have. The creation of this image for brands also went on to create a desire among consumers for what is new and smaller and more convenient.
Although they have the creation of transistors to thank for their invention, transistor radios created a market for small and portable electronic devices that otherwise would not have been there. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak once said that “without this technology, portable media players would never have come into existence – and without that, we wouldn’t have iPhones today.” The radios not only changed the way that consumers were able to receive information but it changed the way they were able to use the content they were receiving. They began to use this newfound desire for convenient, portable technology to enhance their everyday life. They used that desire to start creating new technologies to make everyday tasks simpler.
Transistor radios could formerly be purchased at electronic stores such as Radioshack and were thriving in the 1960s and 1970s but even in the early 2000s there were already very few options to choose from. The radios were priced at $49.95 upon their release which was a relatively high price for the year they were released but consumers seemed to be willing to pay for the product they would receive, similar to how people pay hundreds of dollars now for whatever product Apple decides to market. Although the target at upscale consumers provided expectations that it would be an older generation of consumers, youth was actually the first to adopt the new technology, as they used it for new ways to listen to music, especially as rock ‘n’ roll became more popular in later years. The number of radios in use increased exponentially as people realize that the transistor technology used in radios made them smaller, cheaper, and more reliable.
Much like the transistor radio, scholarly articles about this topic are becoming obsolete. Library databases contained very little information regarding the transistor radio and its production. There are many popular sources regarding this information. In the current age of technology, it is very easy to find unknown information on a well-known website such as Google. It is however very difficult to find little known facts on databases from older sources such as a library. While working with scholarly sources you have to set your expectations very specifically in order to achieve the results you are looking for. You need to know what information exactly you are looking for in order to find it and what you find is quite often not a very extensive article or academic journal. In popular sources you can type in a very vague search term and find exactly what you are looking for quite quickly and you will often find more facts than you were looking for. Both have drawbacks, scholarly sources bring up so few results that you may have a hard time finding what you are looking for but popular sources bring up so many results that it can be difficult to sift through them and find what you need.
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