Fun with “The Radio Boys”

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

Back in April of this year (2022), I accidentally discovered The Radio Boys series of books, many of which are available for free if you have an Amazon Kindle.

These books, I believe, are intended for young adults, and, in my mind, they very much resemble The Hardy Boys series of books: a group of high school friends have adventures and discover the wonders of radio together. Think “The Hardy Boys go all-in for radio,” and you have the right idea.

If you are looking for sophisticated plots, deep character development, and a lyrical turn of phrase, you will be disappointed. But if you a looking for a light-hearted adventure with deep enthusiasm for radio, I think you will be pleased.

But what makes these books really cool is that they were written and copyrighted 100 years ago, in the early 1920s. Yes, some of the language and attitudes are somewhat antiquated, but what is fascinating is the window they offer on radio a century ago.

My knowledge of radio history is very limited, but it is my understanding that radio was just beginning to be popular in American culture in the early 1920s, The Radio Boys books reflect this. The first book, The Radio Boys’ First Wireless Or Winning the Ferberton Prize, gives fairly detailed instructions for making your own radio receiver with materials you could get (in the early 1920s) from the local hardware store.

At various points in the books, The Radio Boys extol the virtues of radio: people could hear concerts in the comfort of their own homes or listen to baseball games; if there were radios in cars, travelers could keep track of weather reports; it was a novelty when a minister broadcast the church service; college professors could broadcast their lectures, and so forth. I find the books offer a charming perspective on what we take for granted today.

And, if you have an Amazon Kindle, many of The Radio Boys books are available at no cost.

Click here to check out some of The Radio Boys titles on Amazon.com.

Spread the radio love

27 thoughts on “Fun with “The Radio Boys”

  1. HARRY N9CQX

    My collection of Radio Boys, Radio Girls, Boys of the Wireless, Tom Swift, The Telegraph Boy, books are gone; but there is one book that I kept. It was the book that inspired me. Published in 1957 by Popular Mechanics it is a juvenile book with the main young character being introduced to ham radio. Also featured are instructions for constructing as well as the operating theory of a Knight-Kit Space Spanner. Aptly titled: There’s Adventure in Electronics, it may more satisfy some of you who mentioned that the Radio Boys were too vintage to apply to our era.

    Reply
  2. Ralph Perry

    Fellows,

    I have about forty of the RADIO BOYS books in hardcover, many with dust jackets, acquired down through the years. Time to let somebody else enjoy them so am now as am starting the process of thinning down the nest.

    These are for sale as a lot or as individual books. Prices vary. Most are ten bucks each plus postage.
    A few are rare and bring $50-$100 on ebay and are priced accordingly.

    Email me for a list.

    Ralph Perry (ralphperry @ yahoo . com)

    Reply
  3. Bill Hemphill

    Another book that should bring back many memories:

    Carl and Jerry stories from the old Popular Electronic magazine. They have been assembled into several books.

    http://www.copperwood.com/carlandjerry.htm

    has the complete index to all the stories.
    Plus as you scroll down the index you will find links to pdf files of ten of the stories. So be sure to download them.

    Of course if you want all of them, you’ll need to purchase the five volumes. But the ten pdf’s will let you get a taste of the stories again.

    I can remember getting the latest issue of Popular Electronics and thumbing through to read the latest Carl & Jerry story first.

    73
    Bill WD9EQD
    Smithville, NJ

    Reply
    1. Bill Hemphill

      More on Carl & Jerry.

      The Transistor Museum create a Carl & Jerry story about what might have happend if they had come across the CK722 transistor:
      http://semiconductormuseum.com/HistoricProfiles/CarlandJerry-TheNewAdventures.pdf

      And the RFCafe website has the text to more of the stories:

      https://www.rfcafe.com/references/popular-electronics/carl-jerry-vox-elektronik-popular-electronics-september-1958.htm

      Scroll to bottom of page for links to other Carl & Jerry stories.

      73
      Bill WD9EQD
      Smithville, NJ

      Reply
  4. Bill Hemphill

    Another interesting book is:

    LETTERS OF A RADIO-ENGINEER TO HIS SON by John Mills (1922)

    The book is 24 Chapters with each chapter done as a letter.

    It’s available on Amazon Kindle and the Gutenberg Project.
    Unfortunately, the Amazon version from Amazon does NOT have the illustrations.

    I recommend downloading the version with images from the Gutenberg project site.

    Note:
    For some reason the files on the Gutenberg site does not attach the .mobi extension to the Kindle versions. It does attach the .epub extension. So just rename the file (kindle version) with the added .mobi extension and then either upload it or send it to your Kindle.

    73
    Bill WD9EQD
    Smithville, NJ

    Reply
  5. Jack Dully

    All you guys are the greatest,only on The SWLing Post will you find stuff like this,thanks Jock.One question : You mentioned that the books kind of were targeting young adults.I’m 74,so do you think I’d find them interesting ?

    Reply
    1. Jock Elliott

      Jack,

      Emphatically, I do find them interesting, and I find the “look back in time” enjoyable as well.

      They’re not Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler, but I’m on my fourth one . . . that should tell you something . . . and I’m in the same age range as you.

      Cheers, Jock

      Reply
    2. Bob Colegrove

      “I’m 74,so do you think I’d find them interesting ?”

      I’m 80, Jack, and I still do.
      Also, not related to radio, historical fiction by G.A. Henty and pioneering novels by Joseph Altsheler are books that appealed to our fathers in their youth, and are very much of interest to me in my second childhood. These are all available on Project Gutenberg for free and can easily be downloaded and sent to the Kindle cloud.
      Incidentally, I understand Kindle will soon stop supporting files sent in the .mobi format. You want to get them in .epub.
      Bob

      Reply
  6. Michael Black

    The only Hardy Boys I read as a kid was the Shortwave Mystery. Raymond F. Jones “The Year When Stardust Fell” features ham radio, and out of copyright.In the sixties, there was a series in 73 magazine titled Climbing the Novice Ladder by Howard S. Pyle. Two teenagers work to get their license, informative, but fiction.

    The problem with the Radio Boys is they are too old. Too many people are trying to define ham radio by the past, it’s incredibly primitive. Walter Tompkins had a book or series set in the fifties, a bit closer to now. They were republished by the ARRL for a while.

    Reply
    1. Thomas

      I can’t imagine anyone reading these books to define modern ham radio…they’re simply pure radio nostalgia. 🙂 They give us a little glimpse into the world of early amateur radio when wireless was in its infancy and capturing the imaginations of children and adults alike. Amateur Radio and Shortwave Listening captures the imagination today, but in so many different ways now that global communications has changed so drastically and become so accessible to any/everyone.

      For me? These books are a little radio time travel and, again, pure nostalgic goodness. 🙂 I’m glad they’re now in the public domain so we don’t have to happen upon them at used book stores.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply
      1. Jack Dully

        Well said Thomas,nostalgia in itself is time traveling.Not relating to this but I came across a user manual from Eton on the new Elite Satellit (HD) receiver.I’m not sure if this will be sent with anyone who buys it.I believe it still needs to be improved or whether I can copy and paste here but I’ll give it a try.I t came out a few days TON ELITE SATELLIT (HD) RADIO MANUAL and Comments
        To: [email protected]
        07/21/2022 9:26 PM
        1
        https://manuals.plus/eton/elite-satellit-hd-radio-manualago.

        Reply
  7. Bill Hemphill

    About 30 years ago, I acquired a box of The Radio Boys books at a Hamfest. I then proceeded to read them and really enjoyed them.

    As mentioned, there was a Radio Girls series of four books. There’s also The Radio Detectives series of four books, Radio-Phone Boys, and Bill Brown series.

    Many of these books can be found on the Project Gutenberg web site. Project Gutenberg has over 60,000 free books for download, many in Kindle and epub format. Web site is:

    https://www.gutenberg.org/

    73
    Bill WD9EQD
    Smithville, NJ

    Reply
    1. Jock Elliott

      John,

      I have read both of those and can recommend them. Thanks for mentioning them.

      Cheers, Jock

      Reply
  8. emilio

    Hi, some mag from Archive share as GPL:

    https://archive.org/details/theradioboysatoc35594gut

    https://archive.org/details/theradioboysresc36314gut

    https://archive.org/details/theradioboysseek54446gut

    https://archive.org/details/theradioboyswith56695gut

    https://archive.org/details/theradioboysonse39574gut

    https://archive.org/details/theradioboyssear35987gut

    https://archive.org/details/theradioboysunde45146gut

    https://archive.org/details/radioboyswithrev00gera

    Reply

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