Sunday, October 16, 2011

Old Radios...

I was helping a friend out last Saturday, but I’ll skip that story. We were at Hawthorn Stereo on Roosevelt Ave in Seattle so he could sell them some studio monitors to make rent. “Media says”... we’re recovering from this recession yet I know several friends that are having a hard time making ends meet.

While my friend makes his deal I wander around the store. I notice there's a room off to the side and step in to take a look. Oh my, it's like an audio museum, full of beautiful old radios, turntables, speakers and receivers. I'm in awe and at the same time trying to juxtapose my feelings about my friend having hard times and suddenly being confronted with my past through the filter of old audio technology.

What immediately captured my attention was the radios. Many of them were old, even when I was a kid. I remember seeing them everywhere back in the 50’s and 60’s.

My Grandfather had a big old round top Philips almost identical (but not quite) to the one in the picture. It was downstairs in the basement in his shop for many years. When I was in the 9th grade I asked him if I could have it and take it home.

Of course, being a respectable teenage boy in the mid sixties who loved Popular Mechanics and Popular Electronics magazines, I eventually had to take it apart!

I just had to!

When I think of it, that was a turning point. I didn’t really know anything about electronics then, I just started tinkering. I was curious.

I love this old technology made of steel, aluminum, hand crafted wood cabinets, and bamboo wicker weave over the speaker(s). No circuit boards, cloth braided wire coverings, resistors the size of your cats litter box potty pellets, hand soldered, big round tuning knobs (no transistors yet), and tubes that glowed and got really hot.

It was a mono AM world.

Truly these were works of art but for some reason it makes me laugh. I'm in a time warp about then and now. They were made with awesome materials and craftsmanship. So much care was taken to make an aesthetically pleasing object with one simple purpose.

I loved turning through the channels. Not only was this analog technology, but these were AM radios and you could hear all kinds of amplitudes getting modulated between the stations. It was almost like the first synthesizer, but I didn't know that yet.

Originally posted on as: Old Radios

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