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Tuning in to the Good Old Days
In our modern age of disposable lighters and Happy Meals, we do not expect quality construction from everyday items. Our plastic watches stop working all of sudden, our shoes blow out, our books fall apart in our hands, and we take it in stride. Even our cars are made to shake apart after a few years, thanks to the miracle of "planned obsolescence". These days radios, whether in our cars or on our belts are about as tough as soap bubbles and do not last much longer.
What would you give for a real radio, one that offers full, rich sound from a handcrafted receiver made to last through fifty years or more of daily operation? No, we are not talking about i-Pods -- we're talking real radios, those wonders made back in the good old days.
From the time Marconi made his first broadcast until the 1950s, when transistors were invented, radios were solid, well-made instruments that generally sat in one special place in the home. They had to, because they made use of delicate vacuum tubes to pluck the music from midair, and excess jostling could kill a radio tube.
Since radios were rarely portable there was no reason for manufacturers not to take pride in their work, and so you ended up with brilliant, beautiful radios set that took full advantage of delicately varnished woods, Bakelite and other fine materials of the time. We're talking about significant, heirloom-quality furniture here, which is why so many of them have come down to us from the past.
Can't Beat an Antique
Though the music may have changed, the wonderful sound of these antique radios hasn't. If you can find someone to repair one for you, using real vacuum tubes, you're in for a treat - though you might find yourself limited to AM radio, since FM didn't see much use until well into the era of rinky-dink disposable transistor radios. Even if your vintage radio just stands there and looks pretty, you've got a priceless gem that's worth a decent amount of money. Handcrafted items are such unique things in our culture that a well-made antique radio is sure to draw plenty of attention. Keep in mind, too, that antiques like these tend to increase in value.
The Good New Days
As much as we may look down on our modern throwaway culture, what we have (at least in electronics and communication) are the direct descendants of those antique radios we so enjoy. Modern radio (yes even rap and heavy metal), television, even the Internet; all these are developments from radio and its offspring, telephony -- even if radio and TV are mostly mindless entertainment these days, and all we do with the Internet is look up movie reviews. We all relish the good old days - but we also love what free satellite TV systems and other technological advances have done to make our entertainment world even broader!
All this talk of antiques makes you wonder: what items from our era will become priceless antiques in our grandkids' day? Our PlayStations or perhaps our cell phones? Or maybe those giant plants kids wear these days, the ones that can house a family of five? Let's just hope it's our descendants who buy them, and not theirs!
There's just something about antique radios that you don't get in the newer versions. Maybe it's the rich sound you receive from real vacuum tubes, or the resonance from cabinets made of real wood.....or maybe it's just the sound of the good old days.
From May 1934 Radio-Craft "Radio's Livest Magazine"
Radio on the Installment Plan.
And now comes news from Germany that radio sets can be bought on this installment plan by the use of a small slot machine.
A deposit of about 20 percent secures the set and the remainder is then paid so much per hour of listening; very much on the order of the old quarter in the slot gas meters.
The rate per hour amounts to about 2 cents.
A French A.C.- D.C. Set.
Upon running through a number of French magazines recently, the editor took particular interest in a French version of the popular AC-DC midget receivers which have flooded the American market. This set appeared in Machines Parlantes Et Radio.
The appearance differs mechanically from the stereotype layout found in the American sets. A flat scale across the length of the cabinet, with a running pointer serves as a tuning dial. The speaker is mounted in the usual position at the center of the front panel, and the set is equipped with a tone control, a novelty of which American ultra-midgets do not boast.
It is interesting to note that the set employs American type tubes- the 6A7, 6D6, 75, 43 and 25Z5. These tube have evidently been imported.
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