Brief History of Zenith Transistor Radios
TOLD THROUGH MY PERSONAL COLLECTION
OF ZENITH TRANSISTOR RADIOS
introduced its first transistor radio in November, 1955. The radio was called
the Zenith Royal 500. Although introduced almost a year after the Regency TR-1,
the Zenith radio had several big advantages. First, Zenith engineers were able
to evaluate the shortcomings of the RegencyTR-1, and several other early market
entries; and second, they had the advantage of both audio specialists and electronic
design engineers who had solid state experience from their hearing aid product
line. Wisely, they chose to build a radio that worked well rather than trying
to "copycat" earlier offerings. Also, they made the wise decision to use penlight
cells rather than specialty batteries. Using standard penlight batteries would
serve Zenith Radio well throughout their production.
interesting difference between the early Royal 500's and the later Royal 500 models
such as the E, H, and L, is the upper tuning range. The tuning dial numbering
was extended from 1400 KHZ to 1600 KHZ. However, I have found that most early
models will tune beyond the dial indication of 1400 KHZ. The AM band frequency
allocation changed in 1941 from 550-1500 to 520-1610. Later, in 1983, the upper
limit was raised to 1710.
Here is valuable Zenith
information from Ray Andrejasich, an engineer who joined the Zenith Radio
Corporation transistor design unit in 1957. In a 1996 speech, Mr. Andrejasich
discusses transistor design at Zenith in the early days with a focus on the Royal
1000 Transoceanic radio.
Dwight Poppy, who
did major engineering work on the Zenith Royal 400, 500H, 810, 820, and 880 radios
talks about his work at Zenith. Mr Poppy did the IF design
work on the wonderful Royal 500H.
on a date to view the radios in my collection. There are many Zenith transistor
models that I do not have. If anyone who would like to add historical information
and/or pictures to this library, please contact me by email.
Please select a model year from the
tabs below to view my collection.
The First Zenith
Transistor Radios Arrive on the Market.
Zenith Transistor Radio Models Are Prolific.
Good Year for Zenith; Japanese Imports Have Yet To Arrive In Force.
Begin Market Domination
How To Be Competitive
In A Japanese Dominated Market
Radios In A Japanese Dominated Market
Starts Winding Down American Production
Transistor Radios Become a Hard Sell.
Other Year Transistor Radios.
Homebrew Zenith Radio Collection