The M31 gallery of... American Classics !

Automatic Radio Co. 1956 "Tom Thumb" TT-600
subminiature tube / transistor hybrid radio,
1955 "Tom Thumb" 528 subminiature tube radio:

3 3/4"H x 5 7/8"W x 1 7/8"D

Before, during, and after the advent of the transistor radio, there lived a short-lived creature known as the subminiature tube radio. It was sort of a commercial after-effect of vacuum tube technology developed during World War II for Allied Forces radar equipment. About the size of a cigarette butt, a subminiature tube was MUCH smaller than a standard vacuum tube, or even a "mini tube," and therefore it used much less power and generated much less heat. This meant that Allied radar units could work faster and more reliably, and that meant a higher return in dead Axis soldiers.

Postwar benefits proved less concrete. In 1955, as the first transistor radios began to be produced and marketed, transistor devices themselves were still so expensive to produce that, for instance, Raytheon's transistor sets employed only transistors which had been rejected for use in Raytheon's military contracts. The 10-year-old technology of subminiature tubes became a convenient stopgap measure for a number of radio manufacturers who wished to compete in the new venue of pocket radios.

In those early years of transistor device development, getting a transistor to process a (low frequency) audio signal was many times easier than processing a (high frequency) radio signal, and therefore many times cheaper. And in the marketplace, this translated into "Hybrid" tube/transistor radios which employed, usually, a pair of transistors in the radio's audio circuit and three subminiature tube for the RF circuit, and the word, "Transistor" proudly stamped on the radio's cabinet face. The 528 is an example of a subminiature tube radio, and the TT-600 is an example of a hybrid 3-tube/2-transistor radio which identifies itself simply as a transistor radio...

click here to view a TT-600 full-page advertisement

click here to view the TT-600's display box and shipping box

The Tom Thumb 528, as displayed in the Spring/Summer '56 'Continental' mail-order catalog...

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2007 by Robert Davidson,

Main Page
American Classics
..Front Page

Beginning at
.. the beginning...

The first "serious"
.. transistor radio?

The most
.. popular one?

2 Tom Thumbs
Bookish Crosley
Emerson hybrid,
.. Emerson submin

the first 2 RCAs
2 Philco T-7s
Motorola 56T1
Emerson 849
.. gets no respect...

Raytheon T-100
a chrome monster
Emerson 555
A pair of RCA
.. primitives

.. Jet-Wing

A Westinghouse
.. Micro-table

2 Silvertone
.. primitives

Philco T-51
2 Admirals
West. "Bowtie"
The Late Great
.. Emerson 888s...

GE can't get
.. no respect...

3 Silvertone
.. shirtpockets

3 Philco
.. shirtpockets

a "Boomerang"
.. by Bulova

2 Arvin
.. shirtpockets

.. Mamma

.. "Super Seven"

2 Silvertone
.. coatpockets

Bulova "Super 6"
.. small beauty


2 Silvertone

Zenith Royal 50
..shtpkt series

Motorola's first
..Japanese set

two Motorola

Futura "earphone
.. only" shtpkt


'57 GE 715

..'64 Time Capsule

..'64 Time Capsule 2...

..'64 Time Capsule 3...

teeny Admiral

Wards Airline

1960 Arvin

teeny Bulova

Bulova watch


two Philco
..Japanese shtpkts

RCA shirtpocket