Classic Vintage Radio Receivers

Since the first radios were developed, some have stood the test of time and become classic vintage radios, being used and remembered many years after their introduction.

Classic Radios Include:
Classic vintage radio receivers     Radio receiver history     Crystal radio sets     Development of the superhet radio    

There are many vintage radios that fall into the category of being classic radios. Over the years there have been many radios that have been remembered as being classics of their time.

These classic radios tend by their nature to be older and also fall into the category of being vintage radios as well.

The classic vintage radios can come from many eras and also fall into many categories whether crystal sets, early valve of tube TRF radios, or superheterodyne radios.

All these types of radio have several classics amongst them an in view of the age of most of them, they are also termed vintage radios.

History of radio showing some classic antique radios and vintage radios

What makes a classic radio

There are many marks of a classic radio. It is not possible to fully define what a classic radio.

These classic radios have remained in the memories of those who used them and those who worked on them.

There are many vintage classic radios that have been developed down the years, and many deserve to be remembered in this way. Some classic radios were the first in their field, others were widely used and therefore many remember them. Others used new techniques, some were used for broadcast use, others for military use.

Many of the military radios also were seen on the government surplus market and were used by radio amateurs or radio hams and short wave listeners, offering excellent value for money.

Classic radio categories & groups

Classic radios can fall into a variety of categories. It can sometimes be helpful to put classic vintage radios into various categories or groups so that the descriptions can be sorted more easily and the overall website structured so that they can be found more easily.

Groupings or classifications can be arbitrary in many ways, but it can certainly help in sorting and being able to find specific radios.

The groups for these classic radios into which the will be sorted will appear as below:

  • Early crystal sets:   These classic radios date back to the 1920s, and some to the 1930s and they were used when the first broadcast stations appeared. They were insensitive and lacked selectivity. Typically they required a long external wire antenna, and were fine if there was a local broadcast station. As the number of stations increased additional selectivity was required and superheterodyne radios were needed to provide the performance required.

  • Vacuum tube / valve broadcast receivers:   These were some of the first broadcast radio receivers that were used in the 1930s. They were often able to power loudspeakers and accordingly enabled the whole family to listen, rather than one person on a pair of headphones.

  • Military & professional radios many used in WW2:   Many classic radios appeared around the outbreak of World War II. These provided stalwart service during this difficult time and many appeared on the surplus market afterwards. In addition to this, some professional radios used after this period, but incorporated new technology became classics which were sought after.

  • Transistorised superhet broadcast receivers:   After World War II, many new broadcast radios were launched, some of which sold in vast quantities. Initially these sets were based around vacuum tube of valve technology, but later radios started to become transistorised.

  • Amateur radio equipment:   As the number of radio amateurs or radio hams grew, some companies sought to supply new equipment into this market. A variety of very high performance radios were designed and built, many remaining in service for many years. Accordingly many of these radios have become classics.

It is impossible to list all the classic vintage radios that have been manufactured over the years, there are just too many. However there is a good selection of vintage radios that may be considered to be classics of their time below.

Crystal radio sets

Summary of vintage crystal radio sets radios
Vintage radio manufacturer / style   Vintage radio types
Radio Shack   Radio Shack crystal radio set kit    

Vacuum tube / valve broadcast radios

Vacuum tubes / valves enabled radio technology to move to the next rung on the ladder of development. Initially int he 1920s valves were very expensive and therefore their use was verylimited. But as indirectly heated valves were introduced and their costs fell, valve radios became popular as they offered a much better performance. There are very many examples of these antique radios / vintage radios that can be found in the collectors markets and in antique or house clearance shops, etc.

Initially these radios were tuned radio frequency or TRF receivers, but around the 1930s the superhet radio became very popular.

Summary of valve vintage broadcast radios
Vintage radio manufacturer / style   Vintage radio types
EKCO round radios.   AD36     AD65     A22    
Gecophone   BC2830 TRF
Philco   Philco 111    
Bush Bush DAC90A    

Classic Military & professional classic radios

The radios listed here are just a small selection of the classic vintage radios that were used in WW2 and also subsequently for professional radio communications and monitoring applications.

Summary of military vintage radios
Vintage radio manufacturer / style   Vintage radio types
Marconi   Marconi CR100.     Marconi CR150.
National   National HRO
RCA   RCA AR88.    
Racal   Racal RA17.

Classic amateur radio equipment

There are very many vintage radios that fall into the amateur radio or ham radio section of our vintage and antique radios website. These radios range from classic receivers to transmitters and transceivers. Each one has been a milestone in the development of the ham radio equipment we see on the market today.

Summary of classic vintage radios for amateur radio
Vintage radio manufacturer / style   Vintage radio types
Eddystone   Eddystone EA12.     Eddystone EC10    
Collins Radio Company   Collins KWM2    
KW Electronics   KW-Geloso front end converter     KW2000 series     KW204 transmitter    
Trio / Kenwood   Trio 9R-59DE    

Transistorised broadcast radios

Even though the transistor was invented in the late 1940s, it was not until the early 1960s that transistor radios started to become available. However there are still many classic vintage radios from this period and later that have been memorable for their innovation and performance.

Summary of classic vintage transistor broadcast radios
Vintage radio manufacturer / style   Vintage radio types
Regency   TR-1 (first transistor radio)
Bush Bush TR82
Tandberg   Tandberg TP41
Panasonic   Panasonic RX-DX1

This includes a small selection of some classic vintage radios that have been used down the years. Some could be bought commercially, whereas others became available on the military surplus markets and were bought by radio amateurs, and other enthusiasts.

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