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).
I received a message this morning from a Norwegian couple, Per and Elisabeth, who are circumnavigating the globe in a sailboat.
They’re currently in Opua, New Zealand, and are looking for a shortwave receiver with SSB mode.
They depart New Zealand on May 6, 2014 so are very much in a hurry to find one. They plan to use this radio to receive weather fax while on the open sea. Personally, I would hope they could find a good tabletop receiver for the job, but they would be happy with a capable portable radio.
This is a basic AM/FM radio with clock and alarm functions. It runs off three AA batteries (for the radio) or a 1.5 V small cell battery (for the clock). There is also the option of powering it with an AC adapter (4.5 V DC, center positive). The speaker is 8 ohm, 0.5 W. As Ulli pointed out the three AA batteries are a very tight fit. Besides radio and alarm, there is also a headphone jack.
The SET and DIS buttons on the radio are for setting the clock and alarm. In absence of a manual it took a little time to figure out how to do this. The clock LCD tilts up as shown in the photos. Needless to say the viewing angles leave much to be desired. This radio is meant to be used laying on a table; it has a curved bottom and cannot stand up on its own.
In terms of performance, it’s good for powerhouse AM and FM stations. DXing is very limited or next to impossible due to the stiff tuning knob (you need two fingers to move it around; the dimple is not helpful) and the short circular tuning range. It’s hard to tell whether the radio has below average built-in selectivity with the Sony CXA1191S chip, or are problems zeroing in on stations due to the poorly designed knob. In my unit the volume knob was scratchy; this was easily fixed with a little DeoxIt spray.
Among other curious things about this radio is its antenna, which goes out only at a fixed angle – not straight up. It can be moved from left to right at this angle and extended.
Overall this is a basic AM FM clock radio, measuring small (6.25 x 3 x 1.25 inches), and honestly, nothing really special!
Paul, thanks for the review and great photos of your radio. It might not be a performance machine, but it was fun solving the mystery and reading your review of this obscure little radio! -Thomas
The radio was a giveaway about 1995.
I opened it :
1 IC Sony CXA1191S 314J22V , 5 Transistors , 3 -band filter , 5.5 cm speakers , 8ohm , 0.5 W.
Today’s AA batteries are a bit too long, the 3 AA not quite fit into the battery tray .
The display with the time can be tilted .
On the back is a sticker :
AM / FM CLOCK RADIO LCD , DC POWER SUPPLY , RADIO DC 4.5 V, 1.5 V DC CLOCK ,
ART No. 05796-07 , CENTRON LABORATORIES LTD .
and on housing :