Classic Transistor Radios

Bush Transistor Radio Bush TR82D, a classic early transistor radio, launched in 1959. We still use this every week. Although valves have been replaced with much smaller germanium transistors, all the components are still mounted on a metal chassis just like the older sets. Replicas of these receivers are now widely available, containing a modern AM/FM circuit in a similar case.


SR-G433 - less than 5 cm square Standard Radio Corp. SR-G433. This tiny transistor set is from the mid-1960's. Despite being less than 5 cm (2 inches) square and less than 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep, it contains 7 transistors, a ferrite aerial and a proper moving-coil loudspeaker! It is powered by two mercury cells. The sound is reasonable (given the size), but tuning the tiny control is very tricky...

Note the 2p coin in the the photo.


Sinclair Micro-6

Sinclair Micro-6 produced in 1964 as a build-it-yourself kit. Amazingly, this is even smaller than the SR-G433 above, being just 15 millimetres deep - that's just over half an inch! It fits inside a matchbox, even though the circuit includes 3 transistors and 18 other components. The kit sold for just under 3 pounds sterling.

Powered by two tiny hearing-aid batteries, it drives only an external ear-piece. It has just one control on the front - for tuning (MW only). It is turned on and off by insertion & removal of the earphone plug, and has no volume control!


Sinclair Micromatic with 20p coin Sinclair Micromatic from 1967. This set is very similar to the earlier Micro-6, but the case and tuning control are black plastic with aluminium fascia. Available as a kit for about 3 or ready assembled for 4 in the late 60s.

You can find more details of both the Micro-6 and the Micromatic on p298 of Radio! Radio! by Jonathan Hill (Sunrise Press, 1996).


Sony CFS-88 stereo cassette radio (1982). This ingenious design seems to be very rare, though it has great advantages. The main unit contains a good quality 4 band radio (with bandspread tuning for SW) and a stereo cassette deck with with twin moving-coil level meters. For carrying, the two speakers fold onto the front, and lock together forming a robust cube shape with integral carrying handle. For operation in a confined space, the speakers swing open like doors forming a long straight unit (illustrated). If more space is available, the speakers detach completely and can be positioned a few metres apart, by extending the cables concealed in the base of the speakers.

Does anybody know why this model is so rare? Why did Sony not continue this clever design?

Baygen Freeplay FPR2 - Clockwork/Solar Powered Radio. This is a modern classic of design by British inventor Trevor Baylis, late 1990s. It requires no batteries or mains - in direct sunlight, a solar panel on the top can power the radio. If sunlight is not available, you wind up the clockwork mechanism using a folding handle on the back, and this powers the set from a small dynamo for 30 minutes or more. The case is transparent plastic, so you can watch the clockwork mechanism turning!


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Vintage Valve Radios

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Photographs Copyright by Weben, 1998-2002.