Vintage 1955 Film Introducing the First In-Dash Transistor Radio

The history of the car radio goes back to the 1920s and endured a pretty bumpy existence for about thirty years. Because they used old vacuum tube technology, car radios were fragile, susceptible to temperature changes and gave off an awful amount of heat, something that was rather unwelcome during hot summer days. But in 1955, there was a breakthrough that changed listening to music in the car forever.

The vacuum tube’s successor, the transistor, had been first developed in 1947 and was slowly making its way into consumer products. The first device to include transistors in its circuitry was the 1952 Sonotone 1010 hearing aid which used one transistor and two tiny vacuum tubes.

Sonotone hearing aid - 1952

Source: Bob McGarrah

The second consumer product was a transistor radio: the Regency TR-1 in 1954.

Once the Regency was out, it was only a matter of time before someone manufactured a fully-transistorized radio for the car. That company was Chrysler.


Watch a video on its introduction here.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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