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History of the Car Radio

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Forum topic by longgone posted 03-22-2013 04:00 PM 780 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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longgone

5688 posts in 2775 days


03-22-2013 04:00 PM

HISTORY OF THE CAR RADIO

Seems like cars have always had radios, but they didn’t.

Here’s the true story:

One evening, in 1929, two young men named William Lear and Elmer Wavering drove their girlfriends to a lookout point high above the Mississippi River town of Quincy , Illinois, to watch the sunset.

It was a romantic night to be sure, but one of the women observed that it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.

Lear and Wavering liked the idea. Both men had tinkered with radios (Lear had served as a radio operator in the U.S. Navy during World War I) and it wasn’t long before they were taking apart a home radio and trying to get it to work in a car.

But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds: automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical equipment that generate noisy static interference, making it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running.

One by one, Lear and Wavering identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference.

When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago. There they met Paul Galvin, owner of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation.

He made a product called a “battery eliminator” a device that allowed battery-powered radios to run on household AC
current.

But as more homes were wired for electricity more radio manufacturers made AC-powered radios. Galvin needed a new product to manufacture.

When he met Lear and Wavering at the radio convention, he found it.

He believed that mass-produced, affordable car radios had the potential to become a huge business.

Lear and Wavering set up shop in Galvin’s factory, and when they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his
Studebaker.

Then Galvin went to a local banker to apply for a loan. Thinking it might sweeten the deal, he had his men install a radio in the banker’s Packard.

Good idea, but it didn’t work—Half an hour after the installation, the banker’s Packard
caught on fire. (They didn’t get the loan.)

Galvin didn’t give up. He drove his Studebaker nearly 800 miles to Atlantic City to show off the radio at the
1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention.

Too broke to afford a booth, he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up the radio so that
passing conventioneers could hear it.

That idea worked—He got enough orders to put the radio into production.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

That first production model was called the 5T71.

Galvin decided he needed to come up with something a little catchier.

In those days many companies in the phonograph and radio businesses used the suffix “ola” for their names – Radiola, Columbiola, and Victrola were three of the biggest. Galvin decided to do the same thing, and since his radio was intended for use in a motor vehicle, he decided to call it the Motorola. But even with the name change, the radio still had problems:

When Motorola went on sale in 1930, it cost about $110 uninstalled, at a time when you could buy a brand-new car for $650, and the country was sliding into the Great Depression. (By that measure, a radio for a new car would cost about $3,000 today.)

In 1930 it took two men several days to put in a car radio— The dashboard had to be taken apart so that the receiver and a single speaker could be installed, and the ceiling had to be cut open to install the antenna.

These early radios ran on their own batteries, not on the car battery, so holes had to be cut into the floorboard to accommodate them.

The installation manual had eight complete diagrams and 28 pages of instructions.

Selling complicated car radios that cost 20 percent of the price of a brand-new car wouldn’t have been easy in the best of times, let alone during the Great Depression—

Galvin lost money in 1930 and struggled for a couple of years after that. But things picked up in 1933 when Ford began offering Motorola’s pre-installed at the factory.

In 1934 they got another boost when Galvin struck a deal with B.F. Goodrich tire company to sell and install them in its chain of tire stores.

By then the price of the radio, installation included, had dropped to $55. The Motorola car radio was off and running.

(The name of the company would be officially changed from Galvin Manufacturing to “Motorola” in 1947.)

In the meantime, Galvin continued to develop new uses for car radios.

In 1936, the same year that it introduced push-button tuning, it also introduced the Motorola Police Cruiser, a standard car radio that was factory preset to a single frequency to pick up police broadcasts.

In 1940 he developed with the first handheld two-way radio—The Handie-Talkie—for the U. S. Army.

A lot of the communications technologies that we take for granted today were born in Motorola labs in the years that followed World War II.

In 1947 they came out with the first television to sell under $200.

In 1956 the company introduced the world’s first pager;

in 1969 it supplied the radio and television equipment that was used to televise Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon.

In 1973 it invented the world’s first handheld cellular phone.

Today Motorola is one of the largest cell phone manufacturer in the world—

And it all started with the car radio.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO

The two men who installed the first radio in Paul Galvin’s car, Elmer Wavering and William Lear, ended up taking very different paths in life.

Wavering stayed with Motorola. In the 1950’s he helped change the automobile experience again when he developed the first automotive alternator, replacing inefficient and unreliable generators. The invention lead to such luxuries as
power windows, power seats, and, eventually, air-conditioning.

Lear also continued inventing.

He holds more than 150 patents. Remember eight-track tape players? Lear invented that. But what he’s really famous for are his contributions to the field of aviation.

He invented radio direction finders for planes, aided in the invention of the autopilot, designed the first fully automatic
aircraft landing system, and in 1963 introduced his most famous invention of all, the Lear Jet, the world’s first mass-produced, affordable business jet. (Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school after the eighth grade.)

Sometimes it is fun to find out how some of the many things that we take for granted actually came into being! and It all started with a woman’s suggestion!


6 replies so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4167 posts in 2323 days


#1 posted 03-22-2013 04:23 PM

Very informative
thanks
Jamie

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7179 posts in 2044 days


#2 posted 03-22-2013 04:40 PM

Interesting read, thank you for posting the article.

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

4225 posts in 3201 days


#3 posted 03-22-2013 05:38 PM

Whew, I thought this would be another joke like the three brothers who invented auto air-conditioning….

The three Goldberg brothers, Norman, Hyman, and Maximillian invented and developed the first automobile air-conditioner.

On July 17th, 1946, the temperature in Detroit was 97º.

The 3 brothers walked into old man Henry Ford’s office and sweet-talked his secretary into telling him that 3 gentlemen were there with the most exciting innovation in the auto industry since the electric starter.

Henry was curious and invited them into his office. They refused and instead asked that he come out to the parking lot to their car.

They persuaded him to get into the car which was about 130º – turned on the air-conditioner and cooled the car off immediately.

The old man got very excited and invited them back to the office, where he offered them 3 million dollars for the patent.

The brothers refused saying they would settle for 2 million but they wanted the recognition by having a label “The Goldberg Air-Conditioner” on the dashboard of each car that it was installed in.

Now old man Ford was more than just a little bit anti-Semitic, and there was no way he was going to put the Goldbergs’ name on 2 million Ford cars.

They haggled back and forth for about 2 hours and finally agreed on 4 million dollars and that just their first names would be shown.

And so, even today, all Ford air-conditioners show on the controls the names “Norm”, “Hi”, and “Max”.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View madts's profile

madts

1685 posts in 1807 days


#4 posted 03-22-2013 06:48 PM

That has to be the longest/worst joke I have ever read.
Poopie, how could you!

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

22043 posts in 1805 days


#5 posted 03-22-2013 06:51 PM

Love the history lesson

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View CalgaryGeoff's profile

CalgaryGeoff

937 posts in 1949 days


#6 posted 03-22-2013 07:12 PM

That was an interesting read.

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

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