[…]The February 1945 issue of Radio-Craft magazine included an article titled “Radio Audience Meter” which looked at the machine that was revolutionizing audience measurement. First installed in homes on a trial basis in 1939, the Audimeter was placed next to a family’s existing radio.
The article included photo cutaways that showed how the Audimeter worked. Back in those days, radios had dials. Fitted with a series of gears, the Audimeter was a standalone device connected to a radio. It had an arm that moved whenever the radio dial was turned. So whenever the radio station was changed, the Audimeter’s arm would swivel along a long tape that was slowly rolling inside this gadget. The tape inside was about 100 feet long and three inches wide and reportedly lasted for about a month of recording.
The market researchers would collect the tapes by visiting each house monthly and shipping the tapes to a plant in Chicago. Once there, the tapes were processed by dozens of laborers feeding the tapes into tabulation machines.
“The Audimeter made it more scientific,” Buzzard noted about the measuring device. “They got automatic readings.”
And words like “scientific” and “automatic” were all the rage for gadgets of the 1940s, even if by today’s standards there was quite a bit of legwork involved.[…]
Turns out, some come from an electronic waste recycling company in NYC,
which repairs and resells some of the waste they collect, puts the best
specimens in a museum/prop library for movies and TV show, and the rest
is recycled in an environmentally conscious way without ending up in a
Fascinating! That vault looks amazing! I think it’s brilliant that set designers reach for vintage radios and I’m glad the vault has a ready supply!
Gizmodo touches on several preparedness basics and specifically mentions tucking away a shortwave radio with your survival gear:
Several preppers suggested keeping shortwave receivers handy, preferably of the hand-crank or solar-powered variety (because, you know, the grid’s out). “Personal two way com should be stored in metal boxes in each family vehicle,” one individual recommended. Another source emphasized the value of hunting down older, “tube type” communications gear. “Modern amateur radio gear is hugely susceptible to EMP,” he said. “Amateurs who have made it a part of their hobby interest to rebuild/salvage discarded military gear, especially heavy receivers, and transmitters, are thought to be very survivable.”
I have opinions about the ideal receiver to keep on hand for preparedness reasons. While it’s true that older tube type gear is less susceptible to EMP damage, much of this gear requires 110-220 volts AC to operate. If the electrical grid is down, you’ll need to have a reasonably robust power supply to bring these rigs to life.
I’ve had a prepper radio post in the hopper for nearly a year now; indeed, this is one of the most common questions I’m asked. Perhaps it’s time for another virtual radio challenge to flesh-out more options? There are a number of Post readers who are experts on this topic.
Jesse Walker, author of the book Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America, pointed me to this rather novel invention from 1937 — the refrigerator-radio combination unit. This may seem like an odd marriage of tech, but it makes perfect sense when you realise that it in the 1930s it was becoming harder to sell new radios and much easier to sell new fridges.
Despite the Great Depression, America saw an explosion of mechanical refrigerator ownership during the 1930s. In 1930, just 8 per cent of American households had a fridge. By the end of the decade, nearly half of American homes had one.
But the market for radios was pretty saturated in the late 1930s. Over 80 per cent of American households had a radio by the end of the decade. So radio set manufacturers tried to insert their products into new places that from the vantage point of the future, we can see didn’t pan out (like refrigerators) and others that did (like cars).
Classic turntables may get all the glamour, but the shortwave radio deserves a place of prominence in the home of any audiophile. For a stylish way to surf the airwaves, try this stunning late 1950s Trans-World T-9, produced by Philco (that’s the Philadelphia Storage Battery Company, for those who don’t like to abbreviate).
Though this article points to eBay auctions–which, in truth, tends to favor the seller, price-wise–they make a point: classic radios deliver audio fidelity that, in my opinion, surpasses all modern portables.
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