The M31 gallery of... American Classics !

1954 Regency TR-1, 1955 Bulova 250:

5"H x 3"H x 1 1/4"D

As even my mother knows by now, the Regency TR-1 was the world's first commercially marketed transistor radio*. It was made in America, not in Japan. It was released onto the market in October 1954, roughly four months before the second transistor radio would arrive, the Raytheon 8-TP1; and a good six months before Japan would produce its first transistor radio, the Sony TR-52, an experimental set never actually released for sale; and nearly TWO AND A HALF YEARS before the first Japanese pocket transistor would arrive in America: that radio was the Sony TR-63, the beginning of the end for the U.S. consumer electronics industry.

The Regency TR-1 was produced in Indianapolis, Indiana by Industrial Development Engineer Associates, using transistors manufactured by Texas Instruments. The cabinet was designed by Painter, Teague and Petertil of Chicago. The radio employed a four-transistor circuit which gave a pretty crummy performance both in reception quality and audio quality (see the next link here, "The first 'serious' transistor radio?"). The cabinet was originally offered in four colors: black, white, gray and red. Later, two other cabinet colors were added: "Mahogany" (brown with black striations), and "Forest Green" (dark green with white striations). "Mahogany" is very cool, and "Forest Green" is just plain killer. Then there were the "pearlescents": white pearlescent, blue pearlescent, and pink pearlescent, all unbearably rare...

The black radio in the picture above is the Bulova 250, same chassis as the Regency but slightly different in the cabinet (though obviously Bulova leased or bought the mold from Regency): as you can see, there are several small differences between the two faces above, besides the logo differences. And one other difference not visible in the picture above is that Bulova jettisoned the earphone jack. As with all Bulova radios, the 250 was sold only in jewelry stores. It also came in a white cabinet and in a tan leather cabinet.

*(The Regency TR-1 was without question the world's first commercially marketed transistor radio -- but for whatever it's worth, there were several one-of-a-kind experimental sets predating the TR-1. Steve Schoenherr's page, Who's on First? provides an overview of all this.)


click for Zenith Royal 500 and Regency TR-1 illustrations & descriptions from the 1956 Continental mail-order catalog...

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2007 by Robert Davidson,

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..shtpkt series

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'57 GE 715

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teeny Admiral

Wards Airline

1960 Arvin

teeny Bulova

Bulova watch


two Philco
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RCA shirtpocket