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How To Identify Fake Adobe & Microsoft Software

25-Mar-12

I wish that every pirate was so stupid as to put the wrong TV networks logo on their DVD ‘product’ or, better, print something like ‘Chung Kung Photoshop CZ3 Softwear’ or ‘Microwerks Windoows 7’.  Unfortunately, most are much better than that but they are not perfect.  I would think that Photoshop is the most obvious Adobe product to pirate due to the extreme demand for it although it is very possible that the full Creative Suite and other products are affected as well.  PhotoTurbo.com has a very good, quick checklist:

(NOTE: For Microsoft issues, please skip to the end of this post.)

How to identify fake Adobe Creative Suite software:

  • Look on box bottom at white UPC code sticker. Legitimate Adobe software should say “Printed in the USA” on the box bottom in fine print.  Fake Adobe software leaves out the word “the” and says “Printed in USA”.
  • Real Adobe software says “Made in USA” below the word “lotcode”.  Fake Adobe software says “Made in USA” directly below the barcode.
  • Legitimate Adobe Creative Suite software says “WIN RET UE”, fake software says “WIN RET IE”.

The above would have helped me but I would have never known that I had a fake copy if another buyer of Photoshop from the same US based ebay seller hadn’t contacted me.  The product ‘registered’ smoothly as I would have expected and it works flawlessly.  I registered myself at the Adobe website and cheacked to see if my copy of Photoshop CS3 was registered there.   Not surprisingly, Adobe has no record of my owning this copy of Photoshop despite having ‘registered’ it ‘successfully’ via my software’s interface.  You can run your serial number at Adobe to see if it accepts it directly at the Adobe website.  In fact, if you bought it anywhere other than directly from an Adobe authorized dealer, it is the first thing that you should do once you have the software.  My copy has the first two of the above listed problems and it does not have a warranty card which seems to be another issue.  Overall though, like my Microsoft Windows 7 software, it looks great!  These items were obviously made in a factory to generally very good standards.  How they missed the little details, I will never know.  I suspect that most bogus Adobe software users are quite happy overall and have no idea that they are using nothing more than they would be getting from a torrent site although in my case, I am unaware of any virus or malware being detected by my Kaspersky anti-virus software.  The torrent site’s version may be worse in that regard plus, you know you have a downloaded a fake copy!

Tony Sleeps post at Pirate Software Alert is good and leads to his own website info with his experience. He is likely quite correct in the allegation that eBay, Amazon (Amazon Marketplace), Best Buy (Best Buy Marketplace), and PayPal care minimally about this as they make nice commissions on every sale. (NOTE: I added Best Buy from an Adobe post on the piracy subject.  That post an links to the rest of what Adobe has on the subject.) Amazon and Best Buy are legitimate dealers but their ‘marketplaces’ are the wild west, it seems. You can get your money back from ebay and PayPal (and likely the others too) if you notice withing 30 days (only). Yet another good post on this subject is at We Rock Your Web.  Sadly, Adobe seems to care only minimally about this problem as best as I can tell as do, as noted, most of the other big players.

The biggest problem that counterfeiters seem to have with making Microsoft software is manufacturing the discs themselves.  The holograms on Microsoft discs are permanently etched into the plastic.  Counterfeiters (thus far) seem to have to use decals for this.  You can also peel off the label on a counterfeit disc.  A real disc has a painted on label.  Sadly, until you look hard, it looks quite good.  For more about fake Microsoft software, you should go to their excellent ‘How To Tell’ page.  For ‘packaged software’ (what you see at Best Buy and other retailers and what most counterfeiters offer too), you should go to the Microsoft’s ‘Packaged Software How To Tell‘ page.  If you have any questions Microsoft software authenticity, check these pages immediately.  You may have the ability to take recourse through ebay or other buyer protection programs or through PayPal or your credit card company but only for a very short while.  You may want to check even if you don’t think there is a problem as you may be wrong!  As noted below, Microsoft may be willing to help you too but you should use that as the method of last resort in fairness to them plus you really don’t want to re-install all of you files and software a second time.  Ttrust me on that!

I will have to give a big 5 star rating to Microsoft!  They have an excellent reporting system and once I sent them my pirated software, they sent me a complementary copy of  Windows 7 Ultimate EOM version.  They didn’t have to do this.  Microsoft will help you if you encounter this problem.  The downside is that I had to copy everything from my computer to memory sticks and reload all of the programs for a second time.  A big ‘hats off’ to them though in any event!

My Computer Saga Continues – Counterfeit Software from ebay!

25-Mar-12

Late last year I bought a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended and a bit later a copy of Microsoft Windows 7 Professional. I had some significant computer problems and it took some time form me to do some board level component replacement. Once that was resolved, I installed both pieces of software. Both installed beautifully and the activation procedures and registration process for both programs went smoothly too. Unless another ebay user who had bought a like copy of Adobe CS3 from the same seller had contacted me, I would still think that my copy of that software was fine. As to my Windows 7 Ppro copy, it worked fine for about 3 weeks and then I had a couple of activation inquiries from Microsoft. Upon entering data, I was assured that my software was genuine.  Then I got another Microsoft auto inquiry.   This time it came back that my software was NOT genuine.

I both cases, the software looks very good; heck, it LOOKED great!  I doubt that many people would bulk at buying it in person at a brick and mortar store. The Adobe box printing may be very slightly off but even that is debatable. The Windows 7 packaging is amazing! The only think that I have found is that the holographic label on on the CD IS a label.  Genuine Windows 7 discs have an embedded label. There is NO seam for your fingernail to stop on. My software has a seem.

Microsoft has a very useful ‘How To Tell‘ page for detecting fakes and taking action. Unfortunately, Adobe does not seem to have anything of the sort and as best as I can tell, their security efforts are low.  Given the price of their product ($600 currently for Photoshop CS5.5), you would think that they would do better both for themselves and their potential customers.

As it is, I have two reasonably attractive software boxes containing nothing that probably couldn’t have been obtained from a torrent site for free. While I dislike those sites and don’t use them, someone else, more or less did, and I am out an amount of money that could have legitimate bought copies of this software. Be warned that ebay is NOT a place that you should buy software (or other name brand articles) without great care!  I have also noticed what seem to be similar copies of Adobe software from people on ebay currently.  Both copies of my software were purchased from US located sellers who had excellent ebay feedback.  The Microsoft guy even has the audacity to offer a 7 day right of return knowing that problems will develop later!  Both sellers have been de-listed as of this writing but more (and possibly the same ones under other aliases) are back with more of this obviously factory produced junk to sell!

If you do notice problems within 30 days, you may be able to get your money back through ebay. Unfortunately, in many (or even most) cases, you will probably be too late as I was. Frankly, ebay and to degree,Adobe should do a lot more to control this.  If you must buy what seems to be new software or other name brand items from ebay, ask questions and buy only from a seller with a feedback score of several hundred or thousands.  The people that I bought from had scores of about 65.  They sold some stuff legitimately and then sold about 35-40 counterfeit items.  Most of what they sold was software but there was at least one pair of Oakley sunglasses in one of my sellers lists.  Everybody was very happy at first.  Only when it was too late did they notice!  Unfortunately, ebay and the parts of Amazon, Best Buy, and other sites that have items sold by individual sellers are nothing more than flea markets that offer a thin veneer of consumer protection.  To be clear, Amazon and Best Buy themselves are OK but third party wares on their site should be purchased on a ‘buyer beware’ basis.

Next, and last of this somewhat off topic subject, how to identify fake Microsoft and Adobe software and how one big, evil corporation, Microsoft, isn’t really all that evil!

Bad Capacitors Aren’t Just In Old radios!

25-Mar-12

Sure, they are in old audio gear, televisions, and…4 year old computers too!  Any electronic technician of any ear knows that electrolytic capacitors are a problem but the Japanese started making pretty darn good ones just about the time the American mainstays such as Sprague and Mallory got downright awful.  Unfortunately, some of the Japanese manufacturers got lazy and to add insult to injury, some miscreant Taiwanese manufacturers started making some very poorly constructed, counterfeit capacitors with generally good Japanese manufacturers names on them.  Dell, HP, and many others bought and used these counterfeit capacitors and some less than good ones made by the real manufacturers all in the effort to be the low bidder, it would seem. But relative to my computer story, we digress.

I had a hard drive that I knew was failing for a long time but as the problems only manifested themselves at start up, it let it go knowing the pain of transferring files, finding program documentation, and loading it all back in after reloading the operating system.  Well, I knew the day was coming fast, finally, and saved all of my files and bought a new hard drive.  I had previously bought a set of recovery discs from Hewlett-Packard for my a6110n computer (please note that really smart people make a copy of these when they first get their new computer obviating having to buy them).  Except for my old copy of Photoshop 7 (darn), I gathered everything up and was ready to proceed when my old drive breathed its absolute last breath.  Now the real fun began!

With the new drive in (and an ancient back-up computer set up to let me ask for on-line help), I loaded in my recovery discs in or, at least I tried to.  I tried and tried and tried but I kept getting failure screens after failure screens.  These are those bright blue screens that you get with lots of weird disc location failures which are weird to everyone including most advanced developers.  I gave up and bought my old, back-up eMachines computer a memory stick so that I’d have something that sort of worked and bought a copy of Windows Vista Anytime Upgrade on ebay which does allow a clean Vista 32 bit install.  It almost worked with the extra junk that comes with the recovery discs (they restore your computer complete with the AOL offers and trial software you don’t really want) removed from the install but, STILL, more ‘Blue Screens of Death’!

Next, I decided that there might be a problem with the Vista Anytime Upgrade disc as I wasn’t sure whether it really had a clean install on it at that time  and I was never sure about the recovery discs either.. SO I bought a brand new copy of Windows 7 Professional from ebay which was a very bad mistake .  While I was at it, I bought a supposedly new, old stock copy of Photoshop CS3 on ebay too.  What safer place to buy than on  good ol’ ebay?  More on that later but the bottom line is that the Windows 7 software wouldn’t even start to load.

Bad Caps Bulge

Bulging Capacitors

At this point, I decided to look inside the computer some more.  I pulled the microprocessor off of the board and reseated it as I read about a problem that solved for someone.  Amazingly the microprocessor survived.  I was getting to the point that if it hadn’t, I was resigned to buying a new machine anyway but I now had that Windows 7 copy that would be surplus if I bought a new machine that came with Windows 7.  So, after finding that nothing had changed, I open=ed the d-mned thing again.  That was when I noticed that some of the capacitors looked a bit odd; you know bulged a bit and a couple had junk that had leaked onto the mother board.  Looks that any of you who have restored vintage radios or electronics have seen many times except that this was in a four year old computer.  That was when I found a site called BadCaps.net.

BadCaps.net does sell capacitor kits and offers motherboard rebuilding but, first and foremost, they have a lot of information about this problem and a free, non-commercial forum where you can learn more about this problem.  If you go there, you will find that the forum is very active!  This is a big problem!  Home computer users such as myself and big corporations alike are plagued with this problem.  The best place to start to find out if you may have this problem is at the Identifying Physical & System Errors page at BadCaps.net.  The pictures here are from that page.  The bottom line is that I bought a kit of capacitors from them for about $30 shipped.  High quality capacitors made by Nichicon, Panasonic, and some others are fine too.  Digi-Key and many other industrial electronics suppliers, many of which a listed here on the Vintage Radio Links Directory page, are fine too.   The capacitors used in your computer have  relatively odd values and Voltages.  You won’t find them at Radio Shack (I checked -not even close) and it is unlikely that you find them at a radio meet or hamfest either.  Don’t try to use anything other than the original values without doing some research at the BadCaps.net forum.  Always buy high quality capacitors (be it for old radios or computers)!  Don’t scrimp!!

I will point out that I have no relation to BadCaps.net other than that of a customer.  I will make no money from them or from nearly any other link on this website other than the the tiny bit that I make from the obvious ads.

Bad Caps Ooze

Capacitors Oozing Crud

Removing your motherboard is easy.  While you should keep some log regarding the plugs that you pull loose from the motherboard, the truth is that it is fairly hard to go wrong when replacing them.  All of them go to specific places or groups of like connectors.  This is actually mostly ‘plug and play’ stuff on a large scale.  For actually replacing the capacitors, I do recommend that you read the info that is on thet BadCaps.net forum.  If you don’t find what you need, just join the forum and ask questions.  You will likely have your answer or be pointed in the right direction quickly.  For myself, I was lucky to have bought a desoldering iron at an auction some time ago.  That did help.  Lots of other techniques will work too.  If you know how to solder and know that a pencil soldering iron is the basic tool that you need, you should be OK.  If you have any questions about soldering, we do have links to help you on Links Page here at VintageRadio.com.  Beyond the desoldering iron, I used nothing special and had no problem with soldering mishaps.  Do inspect your work closely and use a very small screwdriver, awl, and/or soldering toll to clean off an excess solder that you may see, of course.

At this point, I put the who mess back together.  No smoke!  Good!  I then loaded Windows 7 Professional and everything else uneventfully.  Voila!  It worked well for awhile, anyway.  That was when my second problem came up.  This one wasn’t electronic.  It was counterfeit software.  My first hint was when another person who had bought an Adobe Photoshop CS3 package from the same US located, well rated seller that I had bought my copy from contacted me to let me know that his copy was a fake.   After some looking carefully at my package, I realized that I had been duped too.  That was just before my first ‘rain’ of Microsoft ‘your software’ may have a problem messages came up.  I ran some checks at Microsoft and was assured that my software was OK.  Then a couple of weeks later it happened again.  It was NOT OK!  This software had also been purchased from a well rated, US located based ebay seller.

While a bit off the subject of old radios and vintage electronics, my next post will be about this counterfeit software problem as I do believe it to be a big problem and it can cost you a bunch of money as it did me!

‘Great’ Restoration Job Seen On ebay!

21-Mar-12
Crosley Disaster

Oh, The Pain!

This Crosley radio started out life as a nice fifties era ‘Dashboard’ model.  Unfortunately, it was ‘enhanced’ in the 1980s with a solid state and FM upgrade.  This was accomplished by cutting out the center trim bar and drilling a couple of holes in the left side and mounting a new ‘Cosmo’ radio, complete with its own case inside the Crosley.  Of course, just placing the new radio next to the old one or running a wire from the new radio speaker wires to the Crosley’s speaker would have been solutions too but why do that when you can make a permanent ‘improvement’?

In the long past, I used to be a radio station engineer and later ran a business rebuilding radio station equipment amongst other things.  Once we got a cart machine in (what commercials were played on in the pre-digital era) that had had a feature obliterated.  Cutting one wire would have done the the job and, in fact, that modification was in the machines manual even.  Instead, the station ‘engineer’ have removed bundles of wire and cut parts off of circuit boards to make the change!

Crosley Original

Once Upon A Time...

Yet another memory (of the old radio sort) was asking a lady if they ever got old radios at their organizations fairly regular rummage sales.  There was a pause and then she told me that she and her husband actually had a cathedral style radio but that it was worth a lot as they had had the control area cut out and a modern AM-FM radio inserted.  I just tried to be polite and left.  We can only hope that it looked better than this one.  Hopefully she never actually tried to sell it!

Great I-95 NC Antiques, Outlet, & Food Stop!

01-Sep-11

Every year on vacation I make it a point to stop in Selma, NC on the way to Myrtle Beach.  You will find over 15 antiques stores including several cooperatives and four

Radios For Sale

Radios For Sale

antique malls.  There is also the large, mostly old and antique merchandise Cotton Mill Fleamarket which is  in an old cotton mill, of course!  There are radios and electronics to be found at several of the stores and the fleamarket.  Selma is only about 30 miles from Raliegh, for reference.  I’ve included pics of a display that includes many radios and vintage electronic items at ‘His N’ Hers’ antiques.  More info about Selma and its many antique stores may be found at AntiquesSelma.com.

There is also a very large Outlet Mall right on I-95 too plus other interesting shops and country and Americana music theatre in Selma.  Both Selma and adjacent Smithfield have lots of lodging and lots of restaurants too.   The Pizza Inn in Smithfield is a very interesting stop!  It is outfitted with tons of antiques from the area including whole storefronts.  There are cases and displays of lots of neat stuff.  This is not your average Pizza Inn restaurant although it looks quite normal from the exterior.  Included is even a mock up of a fifties era radio both.  The call sign?  WPIZza, of course located at 1441 kc on your dial!  They are located at 1441 South Pollock Street which is the main street between the two towns.  The pizza buffet there is good and cheap too.

The best part about all of this is that everything is within one to two miles of I-95.  There are exits for both Selma and Smithfield so if you miss one, the other one is only two miles away (exits 95 and 97, I believe).

Selma is also an old railroad town.  They have restored their railroad station, so that is yet one more item that may be of interest!  The towns main website is Selma-NC.com if you’d like a bit more info about this cool place.

Radio Rip-Off From The Past (& Present?)!

01-Dec-10

Borg Lifetime Radio

The Borg Lifetime by Borg-Johnson Electronics of New York City (‘pacing a centurty of electronics’ – whatever that means!) is a classic rip off of the relatively modern era.  This radio, seemingly from 1958 is a very simple, very plain Jane germanium diode radio.  It was marketed as a scientific wonder (‘scientists have done away with batteries and tubes’ – Marconi?) and this special model (“…but they have done away with the dial also’) had no dial (Woo Hoo!).  ‘The reason…Because laboratory tests have proven that with the audio-phonic fine tuner, rather than merely settle for the ‘so-so’ reception that you were forced to accept on radios of this size up ’til now.”

“Now, in 1959 when we will include this special Fine Tuner on all of our portable radios we will be forced to charge $2 more per radio for this wonderful extra.”  The ‘audio-phonic Fine Tuner’ is nothing more than a broadcast band ferrite bar tuning coil with a screw adjustment.  I guess that is fine tuning of a sort which is especially useful on a highly selective and sensitive piece of receiver science if there ever was one!

It certainly isn’t that this was a cheap crystal radio that makes it a rip-off.  It is the claims such as the above that pale even when compared to some others that sold similar products (that were usually better made, at least) with less than the most honest of ad copy.  To me the name is also suspect.  Borg-Warner is an was a big company.  Johnson Controls is another.  E.F. Johnson, the two way radio manufacturer is yet another.  Even the guy who signed the letter is a bit suspect to me, George Burroughs.  Burroughs, was, then, a big manufacturer of calculators and business equipment.  I may, of course, be reading too much into this but it would fit the pattern.
Borg-Johnson Radio & Box

Borg-Johnson Radio & Box

The warranty states that you need to include the enclosed serial number with all correspondence.  It further notes that the serial number is stamped on the outside of the shipping carton.  As most people immediately tossed the plain cardboard carton, they were quickly off the hook.  The owner of this radio DID save the carton.  There is no sign of a serial number anywhere.  Ouch!  No warranty.   You can enlarge the thumbnail pictures below to clearly read the letter and warranty.  They are entertaining!

There was a short article chiding this company in Consumer Reports or Consumer Digest.  I do have it but don’t know where.  More importantly, there is a copy of a complaint issued by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on line.   Ads for this radio appeared in (and over) the Washington Daily News, the New York Herald Tribune and The Wall Street Journal and a strip of film which appeared on television in Washington over WTTG TV in Washington, D.C.  This radios carton is addressed to a person in Pikesville, MD.   They likely read about this radio or saw it on TV.  This was pretty aggressive advertising for a crystal radio!  The USPS report “concluded that the Respondent is operating a scheme through the United States mails for the obtaining of money by false and fraudulent representations and that an appropriate order will be issued in accordance with 39 U.S. Code 259 and 732.”  What those penalties were, I don’t know.  No names of the companies officers or the one employee that was at the small New York office are noted.

Intriguingly, the name ‘Borg-Johnson’ is once again active in the internet world as the name on a cheap AM-FM-Multi-Band SW radio that seems to be offered as a premium item for vitamin purchases and through ebay auctions.  There does not seem to be a ‘Borg-Johnson’ website or even any ‘offical’ pictures of the radio.  There is a picture (copied below) and some discussion on eHam.NET, a ham radio website about this radio complete with a small picture that is also shown here.  Who Da Thunk that this company would either still be around in some limited form or that anyone would want to raise this name from the past! 

(Click on any thumbnail for a much larger view!)

Crummy Products? and a ‘Black Friday’ Bargain NOT!

01-Dec-10

iCraig Tower Speaker System

iCraig Tower Speaker System

Um, first, this post has nothing directly to do with old radio or vintage electronics, or, perhaps it does.

  It is a post about overrated or just plain bad products with a loose tie in to a vintage radio (of sorts) in the next post.

Black Friday brought these ‘lovelies’ to my attention once again.  The first, and arguably, perhaps, a decent (if likely overpriced) product.  It is the cherry or oak or whatever ‘infrared’ heater from The Living Well Company that they sell as ‘Comfort Furnace’ or ‘Heat-A-Lot’ (two websites for some reason).  They are also sold by the guys who bring you ‘free’ Amish fireplaces and the ones who ‘give away’ ‘free’ safes if you buy their ‘vault brick’ (think faux gold brick) of common coins and $2 bills with a face value of about $150 for several hundred dollars (be the first callers at 8AM – it will be more if they ever run out of the ‘limited quantity’).  The other product is the ‘iCraig’ ‘Tower Stereo System’ from CVS drugstores.  Its worse.   More below on it.

As to the heater, like many before it, it is an INFRARED heater.  That must be new tech or something or that’s what they and manufacturers from time anon have been insinuating.  All infrared means is that electromagnetically generated heat in the infrared portion of the spectrum.  ALL heaters are INFRARED heaters and use the infrared spectrum just as all radios receive radio waves.  Infrared seems to, then as now, to sound exotic marketing wise though while today we have ‘Radio Shack’ reinventing itself as ‘The Shack’.  Second, the technology they use was developed by GE in the fifties.  Perhaps nothing awful but nothing terribly pacesetting or, likely, energy saving either although that awaits proof, I suppose.  The same company sells an air cooler based on blowing air through water mist.  More old tech redux as new. 

Comfort Heater

Comfort Heater

The iCraig (likely the regurgitation of a once decent brand name just like some others we all know of!) tower speaker system seems to be a totally new development technologically on the other hand.  Its ‘set’ of stereo speakers is mounted one above the other rather that to the left and right of each other.   What these people have seemingly discovered (or are anticipating) is that human beings will soon have ears at the top of their head and below their chin as beings with ears on each SIDE of their heads are pretty much just going to hear mono or some semblance of it.

I have seen at least one other iPod dock product with speakers mounted like this.  If you’re expecting kids or grand kids, you might want to look at the ultrasound carefully just in case these guys are on to something.  If you see the ‘new configuration’, call your stock broker quick!  Still, I sincerely hope that CVS knows more about drugs than audio and that they stay away from hearing aids!

One more note on the CVS iCraig speaker: the price shown in the ad here is $99.95.  For ‘Black Friday’ that became ‘$199 VALUE! (with an ‘X’ through it), $79.99′.  I am not sure where the ‘$199’ came from but, heck, it was Black Friday, after all!

Merry Christmas from Scrooge!

Build Your Own Digital Scope Clock!

13-Nov-10
OK, this isn’t vintage radio.  Vintage electronics, maybe.  Retro electronics is probably more like it!  At any rate, if you didn’t find a Zenith Stratosphere at a yard sale (yeah, really) over the summer that you’re planning to restore  AND you can still find your workbench under the clutter,  here is a winter project idea for you!  It is called a ‘Scope Clock’.  Basically, it is a partial kit of the circuitry and, optionally, plexiglass case, CRT, and a bit of other stuff.  It is a great way to recycle an oscilloscope tube or small TV picture tube into something that you probably won’t find at any radio show, hamfest, or yard sale.

This kit is sold by Ask Jan First a multilingual site in German, English, and French.  They are a supplier of all kinds of audio and related electronic parts plus nixie tubes, nixie tube project support and this cool scope clock.  They are in Germany, so for those of us outside of the European Union (EU), shipping will add a few dollars but that might even reduce the chances that your neighbor has three of them.  He probably just did something illogical and went to Wal-Mart or Target for his most recent clock purchase.  You can be different though!  As a cautionary note, this is not a project for beginners.  On the other hand, if you’ve repaired a few radios or built an amplifier, you may be ready.

Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger version.

We receive no compensation for this blog entry.  If you have something creative or interesting that you’d like to see here, just let us know!

Zenith Radio Store – Chicago 1936

16-Oct-10

Zenith Radio Store, Chicago 1936

Zenith Radio Store, Chicago 1936

This great picture of the Chicago Zenith Radio store or, maybe, more correctly, ‘radio palace’ was brought to my attention via  link on the Colorado Radio Club  website which in turn comes from the excellent Encyclopedia of Chicago (EOC) website.  The picture seems to be a little underexposed probably since the picture was probably shot at dawn or at dusk after a rainstorm.  Still, you can a lot of detail.  The EOC website has a very nice photo zoom feature that is attached to the photo.  I have used that to zoom in on the display windows so you can see what was displayed and have also ‘Photoshopped’  those views to bring out a little more detail.  Were I more organized, I’d pull out some reference books (they are somewhere!) and toss out some model numbers but figuring that out should maybe be part of the fun anyway!  I was expecting to see a Zenith Stratosphere but this was 1936 and according to David Wilson’s excellent ‘Behind The Dial‘ Zenith Stratosphere site, the ‘Strat’ was only made in 1934 and 1935, so you can scratch that one.  Perhaps a 1934 or 1935 picture of this old radio ‘shrine’ exists somewhere.  One head scratcher is: Why is the ‘ZEN’ in Zenith highlighted?

Here is the info the the EOC site has with this picture: Console radio units are displayed in model living rooms in two illuminated, floor-to-ceiling windows of this Zenith Radio store in Chicago in September 1936. Personal radio purchases increased after the passage of the Rural Electrification Act in 1936, which coincided with a drop in radio prices and increased sales for the Chicago company.

This photo was taken by Philip B. Maher of  Hedrich-Blessing.  It comes to all of us from the Chicago Historical Society and is their photo number (HB-03549-C).

 

  To see the full sized pictures, just click on the thumbnails above!

1952 RCA Prototype Transistor Radio

27-Sep-10
 
1952 RCA Prototype Transistor Radio

1952 RCA Prototype Transistor Radio

This is a very interesting RCA prototype transistor radio built by RCA in 1952.  That was at least  a full two years before the collaboration between Texas Instruments and I.D.E.A, Regency Electronics which brought forth the TR-1 using Texas Instruments (TI) transistors on November, 1954¹.  The Regency TR-1 was, of course, the worlds first production transistor radio that was marketed to the public.  RCA, Philco, Sylvania, and Emerson, amongst other major manufacturers were contacted by TI before the Regency deal was struck.  None of these companies was interested².  All did become early contenders within a few months to a year or so but all passed on being the first.  But we digress! 

Seemingly, RCA did understand the power of the transistor and its ability to lure young. talented engineers into the RCA web.  Per an ebay auction that I stumbled upon in December 2009, RCA designed and built at least a few of these radios for a symposium with a strong secondary eye on using them to recruiting new engineers.  There is a passing reference to this radio in a Wikipedia article about the transistor radio³.

Per the ebay auction:  I inherited this radio from my grandfather Les Flory, one of RCA’s top engineers during the 50s.  It was built at RCA laboratories in 1952 to demonstrate applications of transistors at a symposium that fall.  A note inside the radio indicates that Ed Herold carried this radio to Europe.  These trips to Europe were to recruit engineering graduates to come work at RCA.  Herold built RCA’s first functioning transistor.

The second picture shows Loy Barton holding the radio, or one similar to it.  This one is labeled as serial number 5.  In the center of the picture is Charles Mueller, a key player in RCA transistor development and a close personal friend of my grandfather.  On the left is Jacques Pankove.

(This is) a 9-transistor radio, it used TA-153 and SX-160 transistors.

Unfortunately, I did not copy the ebay user at the time, so I don’t know how to contact him.  The radio did sell for a very healthy sum that was far from any budget that I have as would be expected.  I won’t quote numbers in deference to the buyer who I also don’t know.  If  I am stepping on any toes already, let me know and I will edit or remove this post.

Indeed RCA Victor did become an early player in the transistor radio business.   Their first model was the 7-BT-9J ‘Transistor Six’ which was introduced nearly a year after the Regency TR-1 in October 1955 nearly simultaneously with the 7-BT-10, a large 7 transistor leather covered set.  This is a very attractive radio and is probably the most nicest and most collectable transistor radio that RCA ever made.  It was probably issued a bit too prematurely and there may have been some problems with the design.  Indeed, it seems to use TI transistors for RF applications as RCA’s own RF transistors weren’t ready until March 1956.  A picture of this radio and one of RCA’s CEO David Sarnoff holding one from Bob McGarrah’s Virtual Transistor Museum & History Web Site are shown below.  His page is also listed under ‘Transistor Radios’ here in the VR links directory.  Information in this paragraph is footnoted as number 4 below and is largely adapted from Mr. McGarrah’s web site.

As a sidebar, while preparing the Vintage Radio (VR) links directory, I ran across an interesting picture of a young lady building one of these radios or, a very similar one at RCA.  That picture is in the gallery below.

References:

1 – Steve Reyer’s 1954-2004 – The TR-1’s Golden Anniversary

2 – Don Pies Regency TR-1 Transistor Radio History (and others)

3 – Wikipedia: Transistor Radios

4 – Bob McGarrah’s Virtual Transistor Museum & History Website

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