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Published on Dec 28, 2008
This is my 1954 Regency TR-1, the first commercially-produced transistor radio. It was made by IDEA Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana. The factory is just down the road from where I live.
It's a four-transistor radio that operates on a 22.5 volt hearing aid battery and it sold for $49.95--quite a chunk of money for a radio back then.
I found mine in 1990 at an old TV repair shop. It's far from mint but it's intact. I replaced all the electrolytics in it and it sprang to life. Lately, it needed some minor touch-up work in the antenna section, but after those repairs, it continues to play.
Performance is....lacking. Put this next to Zenith's Royal 500, and the 500 will blow the Regency away. Tone quality is very thin, sensitivity is marginal. A tube portable radio from the same time period would easily outpace it.
Just the same, it was the first transistor radio that you could buy, and in terms of performance, there was nowhere else to go but up.
The radio is playing with a reproduction 412 battery that I just completed. It uses two 12-volt garage door opener batteries.