Texas Instruments introduced the first practical transistor radio and nothing would ever be the same. Though there’d been a number of attempts prior to 1954, the Regency TR-1, put on sale in November 1954, was the first transistor radio made in any significant numbers. It cost $49.95 and sold about 150,000 units, and while transistor radios did not achieve mass popularity until the early ’60s when prices fell below $20, it was a significant shift in listening habits around the world. Music could now be taken almost anywhere, and that omnipresence has permeated the subconscious of music ever since.
We turn our Eye towards some of the songs that have emerged in the wake of this innovation and encourage you to slide your dials towards the left hand side (where most of the good stuff resides on the airwaves) sometime today.
We crank it up with a punk-tinged version of “Radio Radio” from Elvis Costello in Detroit in 1978.
Jump one year ahead and Donna Summer gets all melancholy “On The Radio” in 1979.
Same title, different tune with Regina Spektor performing her sweet little “On The Radio” on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross.
Listen up because Jim Morrison and The Doors got something to tell ya about “Texas Radio and the Big Beat.”
Dig the spinning drummer riser on this live version of “Spirit of Radio” from Rush. We’re guessing it’s from the ’80s based on Geddy’s haircut and the rolled up sleeves on their jackets.
We stay in that decade for R.E.M. on the BBC in 1983 with “Radio Free Europe.” Yeah, we miss Bill Berry, too.
There’s quite a street scene on this version of “Guerilla Radio” by Rage Against The Machine on Late Night With David Letterman.
This one will take many of you back to the days when MTV was a music video outlet. Ladies and gents, here’s The Ramones telling us all about “Rock and Roll Radio.”
We wrap this installment with a journey back to 1939 and a swell educational film about Ham Radio to show the roots of the transistor radio.
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