Historic Radios by Syd Fountain

The following 3 wirelesses are from Syd's collection and are some of the best examples I have seen to date of sets from the early 20s. It is interesting to note that these sets were manufactured before the commencement of public broadcasting as we know it.

In Australia the only signals to be heard were from Radio Amateurs, demonstrators and experimenters in some of the capital cities. They played mostly records to air on low powered transmitters so sound quality was poor and with very limited coverage. But who cared? It was the wonder of the age and large numbers of people were making xtal sets to pickup these mysterious signals.

Atwater Kent "bread board" Model No. 9 wireless.

In the USA well before the advent of wireless 1912 Arthur Atwater Kent had a thriving business moulding bakelite parts for the automobile industry, for spark coils, distributer caps etc. and when radio manufacturing commenced 1921 he was well placed to make bakelite parts for radios.


So successful was he that in 1923 he built his first radio factory and Atwater Kent Manufacturing Co. was to became one of the largest manufacturers of radio parts and eventually of complete receivers in America probably in the world.

The model 9 shown here contains many examples of the precision bakelite mouldings for which they were noted. It is a 4 valve TRF receiver using early breadboarding techniques. This model was only one of many variations made using different layouts and numbers of valves to suit their many customers needs. Many thousands of 201A valves were made to be used in these radios.

Marconiphone Model 2A.

On the other side of the Atlantic The Marconi company was busy manufacturing radios with the name Marconiphone. The set featured here was made in 1921. It is a two valve set using DER (dull emitter) valves with a form of regeneration to boost sensitivity and selectivity. Inductive tuning is used in the form of two coils sliding past each other being controlled by knobs located on the ends of the cabinet.

Western Electric

Western Electric.

Western Electric in the USA commenced business in 1872 manufacturing telegraph equipment. After various mergers with other manufacturers, began production (in 1918) of radio receivers and transmitters for the army and navy. W.E. produced many thousands of valves during the war to fill an almost insatiable demand. In 1922 when broadcasting commenced W.E. was manufacturing broadcast transmitters and radios for domestic use. The radio featured here was made in 1921 or 22 and consists of a tuner box, 2 audio boxes and an optional audio amplifier box for driving a horn speaker.
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