Monthly Archives: August 2016

1941 Admiral Model 4207-A10


This ad from 75 years ago, in the August 1941 issue of Radio Retailing is of special interest to me, since I own the receiver shown here.

The set, model 4207-A10 tunes the broadcast band, as well as the 25 and 31 meter broadcast bands. It’s actually a quite good receiver. As the ad points out, the limited tuning range “s-p-r-e-a-d-s stations for easier tuning and logging.” Even though it did not tune the full range of frequencies included in most shortwave consoles, the bandspread really does make tuning easier. The receiver also has one stage of RF amplification, which is tuned with a permeability tuner ganged to the main tuning condenser. So it pulls in stations quite well. The set I have probably tuned in a lot of wartime broadcasts and served its owner well during the war years.

The set also contains an automatic record changer in the “Slide-A-Way” compartment. The changer played ten 12″ records or twelve 10″ records automatically. The automatic changer in mine stopped functioning decades ago, and I have to give the turntable a little spin to get it going, but it still functions. The ad notes that the set comes with a “lifetime” needle, but I had to replace mine. I sacrificed a ceramic cartridge from a more recent phonograph, and it functions well, although it’s currently held in place with a twist tie.

My set apparently retailed for $129.95. The model shown in the picture, however, is not identical to mine. The one shown appears to be a slightly less expensive model which covered only 31 meters in addition to the broadcast band. According to another item in the magazine, the set was also available as an AM-FM receiver, covering the prewar FM band, and also with one police band and one shortwave band.

The ad above, targeted at retailers, showed the advertising campaign that admiral had planned for the fall. It shows an ad that would be appearing in September in Colliers, Esquire, and the Saturday Evening Post. Dealers were promised that they would have their “biggest radio harvest in years!”


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1965 Soviet Spīdola-VEF Transistor Shortwave Portable


This ad appeared fifty years ago this month, August 1966, in the British magazine Practical Electronics.

Details are lacking in the ad (such as the exact frequency coverage), but this import from the Soviet Union is probably one of the first shortwave transistor portables. The ad proclaims “another gold for Russia,” and that “the impossible has been done” with an 8 band radio for “hardly more than the cost of an ordinary single wave cheap transistor!”

The frequency coverage isn’t stated, but the set appears to be the VEF Spīdola from one of two Latvian manufacturers, Valsts Elektrotehniskā Fabrika (hence the VEF name) and Radiotehnika, both of Riga, Latvia. The sets were produced primarily for the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, but some were exported to Western Europe.

From the drawing in the ad, the set appears to be the Spīdola-VEF model PMK-65, which is described in detail at this Russian language Latvian site.

The set’s name means “shining” and is the name of a beautiful witch in a Latvian myth. The 10 transistor superhet runs off 6 D cell batteries, and covers 150-410 kHz longwave, 520-1600 kHz mediumwave, and several shortwave bands. The model described in the British ad is described as having eight bands, but the original Latvian model, with Cyrilic markings on the dial (but with the “VEF Spīdola” name in Roman text), has five shortwave bands. The dial is calibrated in meters, but the tuning ranges are 4.0-5.8 MHz, 5.85-6.3 MHz, 7-7.4 MHz, 9.4-9.9 MHz, and 11.6-12 MHz.

1965 Spīdola-10 export version, known as the Transistor-10 or Convair-10. Wikipedia photo.

Wikipedia shows an export version of the set, shown here, which is said to be the 1965 export version of the Spīdola-10, known as the Transistor-10 or Convair-10. The set has 6 shortwave bands. It doesn’t cover the lowest shortwave band, and the 41 and 49 meter bands are contained in a single band. In addition to 31 and 25 meters, it also covers the 19, 16, and 13 meter bands. The limited dial markings also use the Roman alphabet, and the abbreviations correspond with English.

The frequency coverage of this set matches up best with the description in the British ad, not only in the number of bands, but in the fact that there are “different transmissions at your fingertips 24 hours a day, even including amateur ‘Hams,’ ‘Pirate’ radio stations, ships, etc.” Since the version shown on the Latvian site only goes up to 25 meters, it’s not really optimized for daytime reception. Also, with the tuning ranges focused on broadcast bands, only the 40 meter amateur band is covered. So I tend to think that the British ad is for the Wikipedia export version, although the drawing in the ad corresponds to the seven-band set for the Soviet market.

SpidolaAn excellent history of the manufacturer of this set can be found at  The site also contains an excellent history of radio monitoring in Latvia as well as Soviet jamming.  It’s surprising to see mass production of consumer shortwave receivers taking place simultaneously with jamming of the signals destined for those receivers, but that appears to be exactly what the Soviets were doing.  The set shown here on that site (image courtesy of Maris Goldmanis) seems to match up closely with the set being advertised in Britain, although the set shown here has only seven bands and has Cyrillic markings.

From what I’ve been able to read, the Spīdola appears to live up to the advertising hype, and was an excellent portable transistor shortwave receiver, and certainly one of the first.

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Betty Lou Gerson, 1936


Shown here on the cover of the August 29, 1936 issue of Radio Guide is radio actress Betty Lou Gerson.

Then 22 years old, she had originally taught “creative dramatics” and never given much thought to going on the air until she was asked to fill in on a broadcast for a friend who was ill. She quickly decided she liked the microphone and asked for an audition. Almost immediately, she was offered a position and her popularity skyrocketed. In 1936, she had roles in “A Tale of Today” and “The Foxes of Flatbush.”

She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1914, and grew up in Florida and Alabama before “coming North” in 1931, a fact which the magazine said “accounted for the wonderful southern drawl you hear when she is not on the air.” Her interests included symphony, opera, cooking, sewing, hiking, and boating.

Most of her career was spent in Radio, and she moved to Los Angeles in the 1940’s, when she appeared in series such as The Whistler and I Love Adventure. In 1950’s, she had a voice role as narrator in Walt Disney’s version of Cinderella, and in 1961 landed what was probably her most famous role, namely the voice of Cruella De Vil in Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmations.

She had some film roles, including Nurse Andersone along side Vincent Price in The Fly.

She also had some television roles in series such as Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone.  She died in 1999 at the age of 84.

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Farnsworth Model AT-50, 1941


Seventy five years ago today, the August 28, 1941, Milwaukee Journal carried this ad from  Gimbels Department Store for this Farnsworth 7-tube set for $28.88.

The set appears to be Farnsworth Model AT-50.  In addition to covering the broadcast band, it had one shortwave band from 6-17 MHz to pull in war news from Europe.  Despite what the ad says, the tuning range is not continuous, and didn’t cover the lower shortwave band or police band.  It was a superhet with one RF stage, and had a tube lineup of 6SK7, 6A8GT, 6SK7, 6SQ7, 6H6, 25L6GT, and 25Z6GT.  It featured pushbutton tuning with six broadcast band presets.

A surviving example of the set can be found at the Radio Attic Archives.

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Tuckerton Radio Tower

Photo courtesy of Donald O. Caselli, Tuckerton Historical Society.

Photo courtesy of Donald O. Caselli, Tuckerton Historical Society.

We previously published a photo from 1914 of what was then the world’s largest radio tower at Tuckerton, New Jersey.  The tower was part of the German Goldschmidt System, and was in contact with the German station near Hanover, with the call signs WCI and WGG.  During World War I, the station was taken over by the Navy, and the employees were interned as prisoners of war.  The station was later sold to RCA, which operated it as WSC until the 1950’s.

I received an interesting e-mail from from Donald O. Caselli, the President of the Tuckerton Historical Society.

Among other details, he noted that the tower originally stood 850, and included a top wooden section that later fell off. He also included the newspaper article reproduced below, as well as the photo above of one of the footings.

You can click on the images below to see full-size images of the article.

1992-07-22-SmrTms Tuckerton Wireless Radio Tower 01

1992-07-22-SmrTms Tuckerton Wireless Radio Tower 02

1992-07-22-SmrTms Tuckerton Wireless Radio Tower 03

1992-07-22-SmrTms Tuckerton Wireless Radio Tower 04


I would like to thank  Donald O. Caselli, President of the Tuckerton Historical Society, for sharing these images.

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What To Do If Lost In The Woods At Night, 1946


Seventy years ago, this day’s issue of Life Magazine, August 26, 1946, showed you exactly what to do if you were lost in the woods at night, courtesy of this advertisement by Eveready.

According to the ad, as long as you had common sense and an Eveready flashlight loaded with Eveready batteries, you would come through. The first piece of advice was that you’re never really lost until you lose your head. Therefore, the best course of action was not to travel at night. Instead, you should use your flashlight to gather boughs and leaves for a bed, and build a fire.

Once you made your primitive camp, the next course of action was to signal SOS with your flashlight–three short, three long, three short. This would guide searchers, especially if you had Eveready batteries, which would send hundreds of such brilliant penetrating light signals.

When morning came, the best bet was to stay put and wait for help to come. But if travel was necessary, you should douse your fire and follow any running water downstream.

In addition to the Eveready flashlight and batteries, the ad reminded that other survival necessities included matches in a waterproof case and a compass. These needs should be with you on every outing.

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Al’s Radio Service, Owatonna, MN, 1941


This ad for Al’s Radio Service of Owatonna, Minnesota, was reproduced in the Mailbag column of the August, 1941, issue of Radio Craft magazine,

along with a letter from the shop’s proprietor, Alfred J. Beauchamp. He reported being a regular reader of the magazine for eight years, during which time he saw many different service shops pictured. However, he reported that he hadn’t seen one that was as modern, up-to-date and complete as his. He asked the magazine to run his ad as a challenge to other servicemen readers. The editor obliged, but also noted that one motivation might have been “as a free ad?–Hi!”

The ad noted that Beauchamp had recently added to his staff a radio engineer and technician of outstanding ability and training. That individual was presumably Myron C. Jones, whose name appears next to Beauchamp’s in the ad. The ad noted that Al’s repaired all makes of radios, and was an authorized service station for Philco, Motorola, and General Motors car radios. While the shop did not sell radios, it was the only shop in the territory completely equipped to satisfy sound equipment needs, and had public address systems for sale or rent, as well as Dorafone office call systems and other inter-office communication systems.

The shop was located at 128 W. Pearl, Owatonna, Minnesota.

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Jean Hudson, op. W3BAK, 1936

1936AugAllWaveRadioEighty years ago, the August 1936 issue of All Wave Radio magazine carried this ad for the “Candler Scientific Sound System,” which would “teach you everything necessary to enable you to obtain your ‘Ham’ License quickly, easily, inexpensively.  Tell us what you need.”

Apparently, The Candler System took particular pride in teaching the code, and the ad points to two champions of some code competition, both products of the Candler System.  One of these champions was 9 year old Jean Hudson, who is pictured with her trophy.

Surprisingly, I’ve been able to find very little about Miss Hudson, but I did find an article in the June 1933 issue of Radio Magazine, which reveals that she was actually eight years old when first licensed.

W3BAKAccording to the 1933 article, she was the daughter of Edgar L. Hudson, W3BAK, of Laurel, Delaware, whom the magazine described as a “veteran Morse operator, an ardent radio amateur and one of the world’s proudest dads.” Jean’s brother Roland, 14, was also licensed as W3AXP. And Jean’s older sister, Dorothy, was also preparing for the license.  According to this site, Dorothy was licensed in 1935 as W3IRR.

The only call sign I found associated with Miss Hudson was W3BAK, her father’s call.  So apparently, while she received an operator’s license, she did not hold her own station license.

Born in California, the family moved to Laurel, Delaware, where Jean first showed an interest in radio. Telegraph keys and related equipment fascinated her, and she soon learned to send and receive code. With some tutoring from her father, she studied transmitters, receivers, and the rules and regulations, and on April 26, 1933, she took the test from the radio examiner at Baltimore. She sat on a thick dictionary to reach the examination table, and passed the code test with no difficulty. Her written examination showed a score of 80%.

Jean copied code on a typewriter, and since she touch typed, she could copy 25 words per minute blindfolded. The QSL card for her first contact, April 28, 1933, is shown below.


Jean Hudson in 1935. Short Wave Craft magazine, August 1935.

Jean Hudson in 1935. Short Wave Craft magazine, August 1935.

The 1938 Call Book lists W3BAK as belonging to Edgar, with no listing for W3IRR.  Edgar continues to be listed as late as 1968.   There is no listing for that call in 1974.  In May 1942, Jean Hudson, under the call W3BAK, wrote an article for QST on the subject of amateur radio at summer

Jean Hudson in 1942. QST, May 1942.

Jean Hudson in 1942. QST, May 1942.

camps, and recounts her experience in setting up a station at a girls’ camp in New Hampshire, which she believed to be the only such station in existence.  That article lists her address as 660 Riverside Drive, New York City.  And in the June 1945 issue, she wrote a longer article, “His Last Strike,” recounting the story of Lt. Joseph Hyland, W2ITR, who was killed in action on January 12, 1945.  That article shows her address as 530 E. 90th St., New York, 28.

I was unable to find any reference to Miss Hudson after 1945, and found no indication that she was ever issued her own station license.  If you have any additional information about this pioneer amateur, I would enjoy hearing it.

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1956 Prices


Here’s a snapshot of consumer prices sixty years ago. This ad for Kroger’s appeared in the Pittsburgh Press, August 23, 1956.

It’s not a perfect method of comparing prices (because silver is also a commodity whose price varies), but the easiest way to compare pre-1964 prices is to remember that a dollar equaled one silver dollar, four silver quarters, or ten silver dimes, each of which weighed one ounce.  So if you think of the prices in terms of ounces of silver, you’ll get an idea of what prices were really like then.  The price of silver today is about $18, so by multiplying these prices by 18, you’ll get an idea of what items cost then.

A pound of ground beef cost 39 cents, but by this comparison, that would equal about $7 a pound.  A pint of mayonnaise was 47 cents, the equivalent of $8.46 in today’s money.  Tuna was two cans for 63 cents, which works out to $5.67 per can in today’s money.


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Anzac News Letter, 1941


This 1941 photo shows servicemen stationed in Canada from Australia and New Zealand gathered around the radio at 9:00 on a Sunday morning to listen to “The Anzac News Letter,” a weekly program provided by the CBC and the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

The Australian and New Zealand airmen shown here were attending wireless chool in Canada. The program originated in Australia and was sent by cable to Ottawa where it was recorded. The program was well received by the Anzacs. One wrote, “personally, I consider it the most interesting session on the radio, and I feel sure that the majority of Australians in this camp hold similar views. In the normal course of events it takes four to five weeks for the home newspapers to reach camp, so you can imagine how much we appreciate receiving news within twenty-four hours of the events taking place.”

The photo appeared in the August 1941 issue of Manitoba Calling, the magazine and program guide of CKY in Winnipeg, which carried the program.

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