Transistor Radios Around the World

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Before '54 --- North America --- Western Europe --- Japan and Pacific --- East Bloc and USSR

1955 RCA 7BT-9J

Micro-table radio, thermoplastic cabinet with aluminum face
5 1/2 x 3 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches / 140 x 82.5 x 38 mm
Six transistors (Texas Instruments, RCA: 2x TI234, TI235, 3x 2N109), superheterodyne circuit
One tubular 9-volt battery

RCA's first transistor radio (possibly second?), released in October 1955 at about the same time as the 7BT-10K lunchbox radio.

A relatively low-production radio for whatever reasons — all of the examples I've seen on eBay auctions or transistor radio web pages over the past twenty years that displayed serial numbers have shown numbers under 20,000, most of them under 10,000 — the serial number on this example, for instance, is 4585.

I was lucky enough to find this RCA complete with its shipping box, all papers, and a gray flannel carrying pouch — I've added a photo toward the bottom of this page showing some of the ephemera.

Like many radio manufacturers, RCA produced several prototypes before releasing its first commercial transistor radio: the 1952 prototype, a radio which found its way onto eBay several years ago and sold for massive bucks, and apparently also a 1953 prototype, as reported in a December 15, 1953 article in the New York Times.

1955 RCA 7BT-9J

chassis — click on the photo for a larger image

inside back

some of the ephemera included with the radio

page from the Spring/Summer 1956 Continental Products (Chicago) mail order catalog, showing
the first two RCA transistor radios, the 7BT-10K portable and the 7BT-9J coat pocket radio

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