September 1945 Radio-Craft
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
World War II came to an end in Europe in May of 1945, and in the South Pacific
in September of the year. By the end of 1944, Americans were becoming confident
that their fathers, sons, and husbands would soon finally be home. Manufacturers
began advertising the eminent return and availability of consumer products that
had gone out of production due to material shortages during the war years. Advertisements
ran in trade and hobby magazines as early as 1944 promising lines of goods that
in many cases had not even been designed yet or production planned. Some products
being promised, however, were merely models that were already in production before
the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which brought the U.S. officially
into the War and the subsequent shortage and conversion of consumer product production
lines into war machine production lines.
A few publishers refused to accept such advertisements until there was more concrete
evidence that victory was assured. In fact, Hugo Gernsback, editor and publisher
of Radio-Craft magazine, wrote a scathing piece in early 1945 admonishing
manufacturers for their overenthusiastic (to put it mildly) promise and promotion
of consumer electronics prematurely. Doing so, in his estimation, had detrimental
psychological effects on the citizens who were already weary of the war and ready
to move on, but whose efforts and dedication needed to be maintained at a high level
to assure quality products for the fighting men. This article appeared in September
1945, after Germany already surrendered and Japan had just suffered a death blow.
The New Radio Receivers
... New radio sets-the first since 1942 - are now definitely in sight according
to the latest official information .... While few civilian sets will be available
during 1945, it seems certain that the first quarter of 1946 will see a fair quantity
of radio receivers on the market ...
As everyone knows the year 1942 saw the end of the manufacture of radio sets
for civilian consumption. All radio manufacturers converted for war work and practically
no sets have been manufactured since that time.
It is quite true that small amounts of radio receivers were manufactured illegally
for black market consumption by so-called bedroom manufacturers, but the quantity
produced by them was necessarily small. Such receivers were manufactured mainly
from surplus and other spare parts and carried no guarantee, because no maker's
nameplate could be put on such sets. The sets also sold at a preposterously high
price as do most black market commodities.
It would appear that radio sets for civilian consumption are now definitely in
sight and, it is quite possible that a modest number of new radios will be manufactured
in 1945. There is even a possibility that a few such receivers may be available
for the Christmas trade. This is not an over-optimistic view, but it is based upon
Government facts. While it is impossible to state in what quantities such sets will
be manufactured during the balance of this year, the larger cities probably will
have some receivers for sale.
Last month the War Production Board, through its Radio and Radar Division, announced
a "Spot Authorization" plan for radio manufacturers to resume the manufacture of
radio sets for the civilian trade. This does not mean a general green light for
all radio manufacturers to produce sets in unlimited quantities. The new rules for
manufacturers issued under the "Spot Authorization" plan means largely that where
a manufacturer has on hand idle and excess inventory, such inventory may be used
for civilian production of receivers.
If a manufacturer does not have all the material necessary to manufacture sets
and if a second manufacturer has an inventory of certain parts which he cannot use
himself, the first manufacturer can make application through the War Production
Board to use part of the other manufacturer's excess inventory, but he still must
make application for it to the War Production Board.
Hedged with such obstacles it seems obvious
that no very large amounts of parts can be found to manufacture an unlimited amount
of radios. It will be a slow beginning, which will gradually increase in volume
and some time in the first or second quarter of 1946 it is quite possible that other
restrictions will be lifted. Then an increasing flow of civilian radio sets can
It is interesting to note that General Electric Company predicts the manufacture
of fifteen million radio sets, which will be sold in the first full year, following
reconversion. This, of course, does not refer to 1946, as it is almost certain that
full reconversion will not be effected during that year. A survey made by General
Electric Company indicates that the average price of these new fifteen million sets
will be around $30.35. This means there will be a total expenditure by the public
According to the same survey, the radio industry sold 13,750,000 radio sets at
an average price to the consumer of about $37.50 in 1941, the last year of full
civilian radio production. General Electric based its figures on twenty different
surveys and estimates.
It is quite possible that the fifteen million radio receiver figure will fall
short of the actual sales because in its survey General Electric considered only
regulation home sets.
Many other radio sets, which are already being tooled up for, will be sold. Notable
in this category, are the new vest-pocket radio sets, first and exclusively announced
in Radio-Craft in its September, 1944, issue. It appears that several manufacturers
are now working up their production on such sets. As we go to press, one manufacturer
has announced his line, samples of which have already been produced. That many millions
of such new type vest-pocket radio sets will be produced right after reconversion
seems a reasonable prediction.
Then there will be "in-between sets," not strictly of the vest-pocket variety,
sets which may be somewhat larger. These may be termed "pocket radio sets" and camera
type radios which started to become so popular when the war caused a shut-down in
The camera types of radios are in for a complete overhauling. They will be much
smaller, more compact, and many of them will be housed in plastic cases. They will
be much lighter and more efficient than the pre-war types. They will be more sensitive,
give better volume and reproduction.
How many additional millions of these small "personal type" radio sets will be
manufactured in the first full year after reconversion is anyone's guess. Production
certainly will run into many millions because these receivers fill a very important
demand. They will in all probability be as popular as the regulation home radio
Posted October 15, 2020
(updated from original post on 6/27/2014)