1930s & 40s
1940s & 50s
1950s & 60s
1970s & 80s
1990s & present
In the early 1920s, the "wireless" was made of separate parts: a wooden box with dials and terminals containing the tubes and circuitry, a separate horn speaker or head phones, an outdoor antenna, and large accumulators (batteries) which had to be recharged often. The untidiness of the wireless began a trend to disguise it as a piece of everyday furniture to make it more appealing.
In the 1930s, beautifully crafted self-contained wooden radios
with large glass tubes and dials were the thing to have. These AC-DC powered radios came in large polished mahogany and walnut cabinets, and were heavy to move around. With the advent of plastics, Bakelite became the favorite among many radio manufacturers who exploited its fine moulding properties to produce smaller radios
with exciting and innovative shapes.
By the late 1940s, wooden radios had disappeared to be replaced by Bakelite, Plaskon and Catalin
"midget sets". Portable radios, which were already available in the late 30s, gave way to smaller and sleeker portable sets
with miniature tubes. These sets were easier to carry about, but still required heavy batteries and were not economical to use.
With the introduction of the transistor in the early 1950s, the bulky tube radios disappeared and were replaced with smaller transistor radios
that could fit in a shirt pocket or purse. These radios were icons of technological triumph and dominated the market until the late 1960's.
With the advent of integrated circuits and digital electronics in the 1970s and 1980s, transistor radios slowly disappeared and sophisticated multi band radios
with integrated circuits and LCD displays emerged on the market. Will these radios be considered antiques and sought after by collectors 50 years from now? Time will tell.