Transistor Radios Around the World

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c.1958 Crown TR-333

Shirt pocket radio, thermosetting plastic cabinet
3 15/16 x 2 9/16 x 1 1/4 inches / 100 x 65 x 32 mm
Three transistors (Hitachi, 2N17, 2N18, 2N19, + NEC SD46 diode), superheterodyne reflex circuit
One standard 9-volt battery
Manufactured by Asahi Radio Mfg. Co., Ltd., Tokyo
Distributed by Shriro Trading Corp., New York

An early Crown transistor radio first produced in 1958 or 1959 — only three transistors to its name, but what a sweet little radio!

This unit was assembled on July 17, 1959, as indicated by its dd/mm/yy production date stamp, 170759, which could easily be misinterpreted for a serial number — see my Crown production date codes page.

And this example is missing a piece of brass between the reverse-painted plastic dial face and the speaker grille — the grille has been pushed up here to close the gap.

Sometimes advertising claims can be a clue to a radio's year of manufacture. An ad for the TR-333, shown below, claims it to be the smallest speaker-radio ever made, a claim also made by Hitachi for its TH-666. The question with both manufacturer's claims to the smallest transistor radio is that the 1958 Sony TR-610 has a smaller cabinet volume than either the Crown TR-333 or the Hitachi TH-666. So either one or both of these manufacturer's claims are false, or one or both of these claims are true, dating either or both of their radios to 1958. For this Crown TR-333, it's advertising claim seems a small and further indication that the 333 may have been first produced in 1958 — for the Hitachi TH-666, not so much....

An interesting earlier variation of the TR-333 is shown at the bottom of this page — the photo comes from collector Christopher Joy, and there is also an image of this version on RadioMuseum -- both radios have date stamps from 1958. As you can see in the photo below, this version has its tuning dial on its right side of the face rather than its left, and access to both the tuning dial and volume knob is on the top of the set rather than on either side.

Crown TR-333

Crown TR-333

Crown TR-333

Crown TR-333

Crown TR-333

inside back

Crown TR-333


Crown TR-333

Crown TR-333 ad

early Crown TR-333

the original Crown TR-333, photo courtesy Christopher Joy

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