1960/61 Spidola (Спидола)
Multi-band portable radio, thermoplastic cabinet
10 5/8 x 7 3/4 x 3 1/2 inches / 270 x 197 x 89 mm
7-band SW/MW/LW, 10 transistors (Russian, 8x П-15, 2x П-423 + two diodes (д9B, д101)
Two 4.5v batts or six 1.5v cells
Manufactured at VEF (Valst Elektrotechniska Fabrika), Riga, Latvia
At first glance, a big and frumpy lunchbox job — but a closer look reveals its carefully considered design that outmatches almost anything made in Western Europe at the time. The cabinet was designed by the well-known Latvian industrial designer, Adolfs Irbite.
Note that this 10-transistor radio makes use of only two transistors, eight П-15 and two П-423 — each of the first four USSR transistor radios shown on this site also used only two transistor types in their circuits, but this was the most extreme example of making the most of the least during the those times...
The Spidola holds several "firsts" to its name: the first Soviet multi-band transistor radio, the first Soviet transistor radio made for export outside the USSR, and the first REALLY mass-produced Soviet transistor radio — you can find examples today on UK eBay and eBay Germany all day long. This was the first of many VEF radio models over the years named "Spidola", yet this original model remained in production until 1964 or later. No matter what the year of manufacture, the original Spidola is a great radio and certainly an important piece of Cold War history.
To those of us in the West who grew up during the Cold War era, it seems almost inconceivable now to realize that the most popular and best-selling Soviet radio ever made was a multi-band shortwave radio capable of receiving broadcasts from all over the world, including the US and Western Europe. This certainly helps to explain the ubiquitous nature of those Soviet jammer stations that could be heard up and down the short wave dial throughout the Cold War era: they weren't simply blocking reception by some few individuals -- they were blocking reception by the whole populace of the East Bloc.
And in fact this radio was front-and-center in a number of Soviet political investigations regarding "illicit" receptions of broadcasts from the West. It's been said that by the late 1960s the name "Spidola" in Russia had become nearly synonymous with the word "radio". An explanation provided to me by vintage radio collectors in Russia of why Soviet authorities would allow short wave radios to be produced for use throughout the USSR can be found in my article from the May, 2018 issue of Radio User, Transistor Radios Behind the Curtain.
The Spidola's original sales price: 73 Rubles — about $2.50 in today's currency, considered quite pricey at the time.