A Brief History
of Zenith Royal Transoceanic Royal 1000
A Speech by Ray Andrejasich
Before a 1996 Quarterly Meeting of the Indiana Historical Radio Society
SOME OF THE ZENITH NAMES
I had to go through the Zenith Pioneers Club Directory to refresh myself as to some of the names of people who were part of the Zenith transistor radio group. To become a Zenith Pioneer, you had to have worked at Zenith for a least 20 years. After that, we received the title of F.O.F., Which stands for Faithful Old Fart!
In 1957, Virgil Beck was the head of Transistor Radio Engineering. Under him were Don Knight, head of the audio lab, and Ted Githens, head of the RF/IF lab. I reported to Ted. Leo Gizynski was head of the Military group, and I could not remember the name of the person responsible for the hearing aid group. Early designers of the first Royal 1000 Transoceanic were John Novak and Roy Snelling, who worked on the front end TRF design. Ted Godawski and Bob Johnson did the IF design. Tech support included Art Struss.
After the death of longtime designer Robert Davol Budlong in 1955, Zenith set about looking for another industrial design consulting firm to aid in designing the cabinetry of the Zenith product line. The firm of Mel Boldt & Associates was selected and retained by Zenith in 1956. Mel Boldt and his assistant, Dave Chuboff became familiar faces in the engineering departments at Zenith. They were present at many of the weekly product meetings and Dave spent many hours with the engineers on new receivers before going back to the shop to produce wood and metal mockups for presentation to Sales. The cabinetry designs for all the transistorized Transoceanics came out of the offices of Mel Boldt & Associates. If you were fortunate enough to attend the annual Christmas parties at Mel Boldt's offices in Des Plaines, Illinois, you got a good impression of how much the workers loved Mel. Each year they got together and built his Christmas present, whether it was an elaborate easy chair for his office, or some ridiculous electronic gadget for his desk. It was a lot of fun.
As I said earlier, Dave Chuboff was a familiar face in the engineering department. After the product meetings, we would often sit down with Dave for hours and kick around ideas for future transistor radios. Dave would introduce the latest in materials technology and we engineers would look at emerging electronic technology. This subject could lead to another talk on the many Zenith transistor radio products that used state-of-the-art and leading edge technologies. For now, I will just touch on some unique concepts that went into production:
1. The "Billfold" radioit used a polyurethane molded, one-piece case. The polyurethane provided a "living" hinge so that the radio folded up like a billfold. It was an AM/FM radio and had a built-in printed circuit FM antenna, designed by a young engineer name Hal Pfountz. The built-in antenna eliminated the bulky monopole whip antenna!
2. The "Suncharger" radioit used reject solar cells from our early infant space efforts after the appearance of the Russian "Sputnik". It had a solar array built into the carrying handle, which charged nickel-cadmium batteries. An internal charger also could be used to recharge the batteries overnight from an electrical outlet. This radio was limited to 10,000 production units, as that was the extent of the reject solar cell available to construct the solar handle. The vendor in California practically gave the solar cells away, but made his money in assembling the handles for us and drop shipping them to our Kostner Avenue plant.
3. The "Convertible" radioa desk set cabinet that supported a shirt pocket Royal 50 type radio. It mated with the earphone jack on the side of the radio to engage a larger speaker for better sound in the office or home.