Vintage Radio

Credit P. Litwinovich collection

In this occasional series, WSHU Chief Engineer Paul Litwinovich explores aspects of vintage radio. The subjects will range from the radio sets themselves to the people and technology that made it all possible. He'll talk about collecting, dating, and restoring these relics of yesteryear. Each article features a different vintage set with information about its place in the development of the electronic age. Some of the sets featured are from his own collection. 

Comments and questions are welcome.

Courtesy of Andrea Electronics Corporation

When I decided to write about Frank Andrea, I thought that like Atwater Kent, David Sarnoff, Edwin Armstrong and others, that the research involved would be a cake walk, given his success in the radio business and his involvement in early television. But alas, Frank would at first prove to be more of a challenge. Online information about him was basic and sparse and I found that a lot of it contained at least some inaccuracies. Since he had established radio factories on Long Island, the local connection to the WSHU listening area makes the story even more interesting.

P. Litwinovich collection

With the advent of KDKA, the first licensed station broadcasting to the public, the radio industry enjoyed a steady and at times phenomenal growth.

P. Litwinovich collection

In bygone days, before all of the computerized wonders of modern technology, one of the favorite gifts that one could receive during the holiday season was a shiny new radio. The recipient's age was of no matter, it could be a bright red Catalin table radio for grandma, a Snow White radio for little Susie, or a Lone Ranger set for little Johnny.

Library of Congress

Quite a while back, I wrote Making Pictures Fly Through the Air, Part 1, which dealt with the development of a mechanical form of television. Starting with a concept designed by German engineering student Paul Nipkow long before radio itself, and later adapted for the airwaves by John Logie Baird and others.

Last month we looked at contributions to the art made by amateur operators, in particular advancements in Amplitude Modulation, or AM, and how it came to give radio its voice. This month, we will look a little deeper into AM, its history, how it works, the corporate politics at its heyday and where it is going.