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Why No "Postwar" Radios?
August 1946 Radio-Craft

August 1946 Radio-Craft

August 1946 Radio Craft Cover - RF Cafe[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.

This is one of the few times I disagree with Hugo Gernsback. It's not that his conclusion about economics being the reason for the delay in producing promised newfangled radios after the end of World War II is wrong. My problem is that he excuses the manufacturers who blamed delays on the large amount of time and effort required to incorporate all the new technology developed during the war. As Radio-Craft magazine reader C.G. Little wrote in this August 1946 issue, companies were running advertisements a year before V-E Day (May 8, 1945) promising to have all-new radios with wonderful new technology developed from advances made in radio and radar during the defeat of Axis forces. Japan surrendered on V-J Day (September 2, 1945). The fact is those companies had a year to prepare, and the U.S. government was gradually relinquishing control over production facilities as the War Powers Act impositions faded. Nobody was taken by surprise. This was either a case of government-backed propaganda, or false advertising by the manufacturers. See Television Industry Prepares for Postwar, Postwar Citizens' Radio, Hallicrafters Radio Advertisement - End of War in Sight,

No Super-Radios Will Be Available For a Long Time

Why No "Postwar" Radios?, August 1946 Radio-Craft - RF CafeBy Hugo Gernsback

An increasing number of letters from readers continue to reach us, expressing puzzlement as to why the super-ultra radio sets, glibly promised by many radio set manufacturers during the war, are not available now. Many of the writers, who are holding back orders for new radio sets, cannot seem to understand why such sets are not forthcoming. Here is a sample of what readers have in mind:

"Editor, Radio-Craft:

"Where are all those fancy radio models which were promised us by the advertisements of radio set manufacturers, two years back, in the midst of the war? This is written during the early part of June, 1946, one year after V-E Day. The new models we see are radio sets that were current in 1942, the same old types, with one exception - they are now much more expensive.

"Where are all those promised improvements? Where are the compact combination radio-television FM sets? Where are all the great mysterious war inventions that were to be incorporated into post-war radio receivers? The fancy ads hinted that new radar techniques and other 'secret war inventions' were to be incorporated into new radio sets 'just as soon as the war was over.' Where are they? (And by the way, where are the postwar pocket and vest-pocket radios?) I have purposely refrained from buying two new sets, which I need badly, thinking that I would get something better than just a 1942 model. Perhaps you can tell us what's what.

C. G. Little, San Francisco, Calif.

The answer to this and many other similar questions is extremely simple. It can be expressed in one single word: Economics.

Having talked with a number of radio set manufacturers, the answer to why most of the sets now coming out show really little improvement on 1942 sets is:

When the radio set manufacturers received the governmental order to stop manufacturing radio receivers in 1942 they all complied with this directive. They went into war work and carried on the heavy load of turning out the tools of war with which victory later was won. Make no mistake about it, the radio industry deserves great credit for doing what it did, because without radar and all the other radio war inventions in which America excelled, the war might still be on!

When the stop order came in ,1942 all radio manufacturers had large inventories of parts and components on hand, which for the most part could be used only in civilian radio sets. These inventories were stored away. The materials were not scrapped or otherwise used. When reconversion day came these inventories proved a godsend, giving the radio-hungry public at least some receivers otherwise unobtainable.

These inventories were not very large (with perhaps a few exceptions) and the first sets that arrived on the market were really 1942 models with a few new parts thrown in. But the radio set manufacturers were still tooled up for 1942 radios. Not having 1946 tools, as these could not be produced at short notice - even if the necessary labor had been available, which it was not - most radio set manufacturers proceeded for purely economic reasons to turn out pre-war receivers.

Many laymen, not acquainted with manufacturing procedure, do not understand that even in normal times it takes over a year to produce a new radio set.

New tools must be made; new molds and dies for cabinets must be created; new orders must be placed with parts manufacturers for individual components which the set manufacturer may not make. All this refers to normal times when help and materials are readily available.

In the country's present chaotic condition, where due to strikes and other reasons conversion has proceeded at a snail's pace, it is unthinkable for the average set manufacturer to project an entirely new receiver from the ground up. Many manufacturers who normally would have had entirely new models on the market now were forced to give up the projects because of shortages of materials and labor. This situation may well prevail for another year and more.

The harassed radio manufacturers today think that the public should be grateful that it gets radios' at all, even if they are of the 1942 vintage. The same situation prevails in many other lines, as for instance, automobiles, Here - for the same reasons - 1942 models are now corning on the market, and while there may be an improvement here and there, basically the cars are still 1942 models. The revolutionary new cars promised during the war so far have not materialized and it will take some time before they become available.

In radio set manufacture too it is doubtful whether radically new receivers will be manufactured for some little time to come.

Just to give one example of what happens when a new manufacturer attempts to come out with something revolutionary, we cite a case with which we are acquainted.

This manufacturer started to develop a radically new radio set early in 1945. This particular receiver has no chassis, it has practically no wiring of any kind, it has no tube sockets as used in ordinary sets, it has no resistors as we know them today; instead the resistors are printed with a special carbon ink. It requires but little assembling. A few basic units are riveted together which almost assembles the set, with the exception of the loud speaker. This receiver weighs much less than similar ones is cheaper to make, and will revolutionize servicing, as there are no soldered connections and no wires.

We inspected one of the models which was excellent and worked well. The manufacturer spent a young fortune in developing and tooling up, but had to abandon the entire project in early 1946. He just could not buy some of the necessary components such as loud speakers, variable condensers, and - most important - the tubes.  

No component or tube manufacturer could or would take even a modest order, as they had their old customers who were clamoring for materials, parts or components. These old-line customers naturally had to be supplied first - new-comers who had recently established themselves would have to wait.

That is the economic procedure today. So the revolutionary radio set manufacturer had to quit cold and wait for another day, which may come in 1947 or 1948 - if he is lucky.

Other enterprising new manufacturers and even old set manufacturers had to quit launching new types of sets for the same reasons.

From this it is obvious that you will not be able immediately, or for some time, to buy postwar sets with the latest radio war engineering principles incorporated in them.

For that reason the advice is: Buy the sets at present available. They will be the only ones obtainable and you also know that they are not experiments and will give a maximum of service.



Posted September 27, 2022

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