Sixty years ago this month, the July 1956 issue of Radio Electronics magazine announced, “This is it!” When the transistor had come out a few years earlier, it was predicted that it would eventually replace all of the tubes in broadcast radios. Other plans had been published for “transistor radios,” but they were merely crystal sets with a transistor used for audio amplification. All-transistor superheterodynes were just coming on the market, and the magazine announced that “at last, experimenters and hobbyists may construct their personal all transistor radio–one that can fit into a shirt pocket!
The set, constructed in a 29 cent clear plastic box, was powered by three penlight cells that were said to last up to 600 hours. Unlike earlier “self-contained” sets, this one required no external antenna, and had been tested in many different locations, such as walking along the street, in a steel building, or even in a cellar.
The set used four 2N112 transistors. The author reported picking up 20 stations in the New York area, and extolled readers to build one. “You will find plenty of use for it since you can keep in touch with the ball games, news flashes, your favorite concerts, etc. When carried in a shirt pocket, everything remains hidden except for the hearing-aid earpiece.”