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Folks Of Interest The History of the Car Radio.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by fiftyv8, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. fiftyv8
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 5,015

    from CO & WA

    I found this information sent to me by a buddy to be an interesting read.
    I hope you do too.
  2. fiftyv8
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 5,015

    from CO & WA



    Seems like cars have always had radios, but they didn't.

    Here's the story:

    One evening, in 1929, two young men named

    William Lear and Elmer Wavering drove their girlfriends to a lookout point high

    above the Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, to watch the sunset.

    It was a romantic night to be sure, but one of the women observed that it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.

    Lear and Wavering liked the idea. Both men had tinkered with radios (Lear served as a radio operator in the U.S. Navy during World War I)
    and it wasn't long before they were taking apart a home radio and trying to get it to work in a car.

    But it wasn't easy: automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical equipment that generate noisy static interference, making it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running.

    One by one, Lear and Wavering identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference. When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago.

    There they met Paul Galvin owner of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation.

    He made a product called a "battery eliminator,” a device that allowed battery-powered radios to run on household AC current.

    But as more homes were wired for electricity, more radio manufacturers made AC-powered radios.

    Galvin needed a new product to manufacture. When he met Lear and Wavering at the radio convention, he found it.

    He believed that mass-produced, affordable car radios had the potential to become a huge business.

    Lear and Wavering set up shop in Galvin's factory, and when they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his Studebaker.

    Then Galvin went to a local banker to apply for a loan. Thinking it
    might sweeten the deal, he had his men install a radio in the banker's Packard.

    Good idea, but it didn't work – half an hour after the installation, the banker's Packard caught on fire. (They didn't get the loan.)

    Galvin didn't give up.
    He drove his Studebaker nearly 800 miles to Atlantic City to show off the radio at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention.

    Too broke to afford a booth, he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up the radio so that passing conventioneers could hear it.

    That idea worked -- He got enough orders to put the radio into production.


    That first production model was called the 5T71.
    decided he needed to come up with something a little catchier.

    In those days many companies in the phonograph and radio businesses used the suffix "ola" for their names —
    Radiola, Columbiola, and Victrola were three of the biggest.

    Galvin decided to do the same thing, and since his radio was intended for use in a motor vehicle, he decided to call it theMotorola.

    But even with the name change, the radio still had problems:

    When Motorola went on sale in 1930, it cost about $110 uninstalled, at a time when you could buy a brand-new car for $650, and the country was sliding into the Great Depression. (By that measure, a radio for a new car would cost about $3,000 today.)

    In 1930, it took two men several days to put in a car radio -- The dashboard had to be taken apart so that the receiver and a single speaker could be installed, and the ceiling had to be cut open to install the antenna.

    These early radios ran on their own batteries, not on the car battery,
    so holes had to be cut into the floorboard to accommodate them.

    The installation manual had eight complete diagrams and 28 pages of instructions. Selling complicated car radios that cost 20 percent of the
    price of a brand-new car wouldn't have been easy in the best of
    times, let alone during the Great Depression.

    Galvin lost money in 1930 and struggled for a couple of years after that. But things picked up in 1933 when Ford began offering Motorola's pre-installed at the factory.

    In 1934 they got another boost when Galvin struck a deal with B.F. Goodrich tire company to sell and install them in its chain of tire stores.

    By then the price of the radio, with installation included, had dropped to $55. The Motorola car radio was off and running.

    (The name of the company would be officially changed from Galvin Manufacturing to "Motorola" in 1947).

    In the meantime, Galvin continued to develop new uses for car radios.
    In 1936, the same year that it introduced push-button tuning, it also introduced the Motorola Police Cruiser, a standard car radio that was factory preset to a
    single frequency to pick up police broadcasts.

    In 1940 he developed the first handheld two-way radio -- The Handy-Talkie –
    for the U. S. Army.

    A lot of the communications technologies that we take for granted today were born in Motorola labs in the years that followed World War II.

    In 1947 they came out with the first television for under $200.
    In 1956 the company introduced the world's first pager; in 1969 came the radio and television equipment that was used to televise Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon.
    In 1973 it invented the world's first handheld cellular phone.

    Today Motorola is one of the largest cell phone manufacturers in the world.

    And it all started with the car radio.

    WHATEVER HAPPENED TO: the two men who installed the first radio in Paul Galvin's car?

    Elmer Wavering and William Lear, ended up taking very different
    paths in life.

    Wavering stayed with Motorola.

    In the 1950s he helped change the automobile experience again when
    he developed the first automotive alternator, replacing inefficient and unreliable generators. The invention lead to such luxuries as power windows, power seats, and, eventually, air-conditioning.

    Lear also continued inventing.
    He holds more than 150 patents. Remember eight-track tape players? Lear invented that.
    But what he's really famous for are his contributions to the field of aviation. He invented radio direction finders for planes, aided in the invention of the autopilot, designed the first fully automatic aircraft landing system,and in 1963 introduced his most famous invention of all, the Lear Jet, the world's first
    mass-produced, affordable business jet.

    (Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school after the eighth grade.)

    Sometimes it is fun to find out how some of the

    many things that we take for granted actually

    came into being!
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
    Bandit Billy and 41 GMC K-18 like this.
  3. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,213

    from kansas

    Back many years ago I had an elderly gentleman in the shop and I was working on his car and we began bs'ing.

    We was talking about cars and he said he had one small spot in auto history, I asked him what that was and he said "don't laugh but it's the ball on top of the radio antenna !" I did laugh but so did he.

    He said it was his idea etc. And that all he got was a pat on the back and a "atta boy!!" When it was all said and done.

    He said " yeah I know its stupid" but I told him that it was ok because thats more than more people can say.

    Had no reason to doubt him.
    fiftyv8 likes this.
  4. Lear also invented a better replacement for GMs 'Magic Eye' headlight dimmer...

    The way the story goes is the GM dimmer had a hard time differentiating between headlights and street lights. It could dim for streetlights whether they were close or not. Lear figured out a circuit that could tell the difference between the DC-powered headlights and the AC-powered street lights and only dim on DC sources. He then applied for and received a patent. He approached Detroit with this, but none of them were willing to pay the royalty or purchase parts from him. With no viable market, the idea died.

    Ever since Henry Ford refused to pay royalties on the Selden patent, Detroit was loathe to patent anything or pay royalties to outside parties. The guy who invented intermittent wipers tried to sell his idea to Detroit, they stole his idea and he spent years in court before finally winning (watch 'A Flash of Genius' for the story). Closed automotive cooling systems was another patented idea, there Detroit just waited until the patent ran out before using it.
    fiftyv8 likes this.
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