Holiday Memories: A simple transistor radio…

Have you ever received a gift that had a major positive impact on your life?

One year, I received a gift that really opened the world of radio listening and, eventually, amateur radio.

It was a Realistic Model 23-464 portable AM transistor radio. It was the very first radio that, as a kid, was completely my own–!

The Realistic Model 23-464.

Although it had a super simple dial and was incredibly basic, I absolutely loved it. It was through this radio that I discovered the world of night time mediumwave propagation. I remember plugging in the single earpiece in the side of the radio, laying in bed at night, and tuning in distant signals. Although selectivity left something to be desired, sensitivity was excellent.

I can’t remember if I eventually gave this little radio away or simply lost it in one of the dozens of moves I made early in my career. Three years ago, I purchased another one on eBay for no other reason than the warm memories.

Have you ever received a radio as a holiday gift and is it tied to any special memories? Of course, we’re talking about any holiday–Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Easter, or any other religious or secular holiday.

Please comment and share your memories!

Here’s wishing everyone Happy Holidays!  

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24 thoughts on “Holiday Memories: A simple transistor radio…

  1. Mike

    My memorable radio was a Bearcat scanner. It was an eight crystal scanner that pretty much ran for many years without ever being turned off. That led to many more scanners, HAM radio, tube type radio collecting and transistor radio collecting.

  2. Ken

    Zenith Transoceanic Royal 7000, Christmas 1970. Logged 69 countries during high school. Bangladesh, Lebanon, Ceylon, Egypt,Gambia, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Senegal, Swaziland, Tahiti,Windward Islands. Still have radio and logbook. Used 50-foot long wire a top my mom’s roof in Lakewood, California.

  3. Craiger11

    Back in the early 60’s I received for Christmas, a Sears Edukit AM clock radio. It was based on the ubiquitous all American five, this was a super simple radio to build. The circuit board had the seven pin tube sockets installed.
    Whatever adjustment that may been after assembly we’re minimal and no equipment required.
    I made provisions for switching the output so I could have a pillow speaker, or my speaker board that had room for speakers I had come across. The clock was the Telechron movement found everywhere back then. It was an okay radio, but I preferred a Sentinal brand radio that was passed on to me via grand dad.
    The coolest thing about that radio, was to set the timer to start playing about the time I came home from school. I am surprised I didn’t wear out that mechanism. The sleep timer was cool, but I had read somewheres that leaving the radio on continuously was easy on the tubes. My poor parents electric bill.

  4. Steve

    I remember getting a Fiesta transistor radio as an early gift. It had “10 transistors” which was more than the radios of my friends so that made me cool. LOL. I still see them on Ebay. I also remember getting a Caravelle toy AM radio and transmitter one Christmas — I made a lot of newcasts to the household.

  5. Keith Perron

    I wonder how many of you remember the Polaroid 600 radio. It was powered the the Polaroid 600 film pack battery after the the film was used.

    1. RonF

      Yup! Remember them, but never owned one.

      The batteries in those packs were seriously over-spec’d, and even after all (6? 8? 10?) shots done with were done with autofocus & flash there was still quite a lot of juice left in them. I remember, during the power strikes here in the early 80s, stripping them from the packs & using them to run radios, portable TVs, and even a fluorescent desk lamp. A radio would run for ages on one, and the TV (using 2 in series) or the lamp (through a rigged-up inverter using 1 pack, 2 2N3055’s, and a backwards 12V CT transformer) would run for 30-40 minutes or more!

    2. Mario


      Never heard of that, wish I knew back then as I went through many packs of Polaroid film from the Polaroid Land camera. What a great piece of radio history. Thank you for sharing.

    1. A.N. Durden III

      Thanks for the memories Guy! I was not familiar with the Science Fair vacuum tube sw receiver kit, but it would have lit my fire just as well. My kit was a bit more advanced. It was the Science Fair 3-transistor shortwave radio kit #28-110. You had to adjust the number of turns on the coil for whichever band you wanted to tune. It was a pain the behind, but it was still magic and I was hooked for life after being able able to tune in Radio Australia 31 meter band 9580 KHz from Albany, GA USA! Many years down the road, I eventually ended up with a fully loaded NRD-515, but it was still the Science Fair 3-transistor kit that sparked my interest as a kid. I’ve still got the tuning dial and some of the coils, but no longer have the complete radio.

  6. Daniele

    “ . I was fascinated that something you could carry like a small suitcase, with no attachment to anything, could have voices from cities hundreds of miles away” That’s magic…i love radio!


    Way back in 1964, my late parents got me a RALEIGH 6 transistor radio for a gift. I wore out the on/off switch and a local Zenith repair shop had replaced it several times. Fast forward 55 plus years and I still have this super cool radio! It reminds me of the many memories of my past and is definitely a keepsake indeed and it still works! I want to wish ALL a very Merry Christmas and may all of your wishes come true.

  8. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    I remember the radio very well. It was my father’s GE P780A. I was about four or five years old. I remember sitting on the porch at night with light static from thunderstorms in the distance, and my father and I would tune in various AM radio stations from Chicago, New York, and local stations in DC. My dad was still a baseball enthusiast at the time and I remember listening to ball games in other cities.

    RadioJayAllen has a review of these radios here:

    This radio fascinated me. I was fascinated that something you could carry like a small suitcase, with no attachment to anything, could have voices from cities hundreds of miles away. It is what got me interested in ham radio, and later in to engineering.

  9. Dan

    The first radio that I could call my own, was a green Arrow Model 2601. Spent hours tuning around on that thing late at night when I was supposed to be sleeping. Next was a pawn shop Realistic Patrolman CB-8 that opened up my world to shortwave, and then next was a flea market Nordmende Globetraveler 7/601C. Wish I still had each of them.

  10. Mario

    Yes, my father, God rest his soul, got me a Zenith Transoceanic shortwave radio way back in 1967 from Ralph’s Electric in New Rochelle, NY. He wasn’t a gift wrapper so we drove over to the store on a snowy day and he bought it for me, that started my hobby in radio many years ago.

  11. David Cripe

    I bet there are a lot of us who can relate to this… I can distinctly remember waking up before dawn on the morning after Christmas, with a shiny new yellow K-Mart radio, and tuning from one end to the other, hearing KAAY, WSM, WSB, KDKA, WBAP, WABC, KOA, WWVA, and others. Considering we could pick up all of two and a half TV stations at the time, this wealth of media selections was nothing short of amazing. It was the start of a lifelong radio hobby


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