Eighty years ago today, the September 27, 1937, issue of Life magazine showed this woman freed, once and for all, form the tyranny of dial twisting, as her heroic man lets her know that from now on, all she need do is “press a button–that’s all.”
The GE ad explained that she could now enjoy the greatest radio luxury, namely Touch Tuning. A double row of buttons was plainly marked with the call letters of her favorite stations. All she had to do was push the correct button, and the program was there, “automatically, silently, tuned to hairline precision.” With this advancement, General Electric finally “ended the long quest of the radio industry for completely automatic tuning.”
A mere $10 down payment would see one of these sets in your living room. Eighteen models were available for 1938, raning from personal radios to armchair sets to beautiful new consoles.
Typically, these pushbutton sets had a separate L-C circuit tuned by the serviceman for the desired stations, and setting the buttons and marking them was taken care of when a new set was purchased. For those who desired, dial twisting remained an option. Typically, one button was marked “dial,” and allowed the big tuning dial to be set in the conventional manner.