Two companies working together, Texas Instruments of Dallas, Texas and Industrial Development Engineering Associates (I.D.E.A.) of Indianapolis, Indiana, were behind the unveiling of the Regency TR-1, the world’s first commercially produced transistor radio. Previously, Texas Instruments was producing instrumentation for the oil industry and locating devices for the U.S. Navy, and I.D.E.A. built home television antenna boosters, but the two companies worked together on the TR-1, looking to grow revenues for their respective companies by breaking into this new product area. In May 1954, Texas Instruments had designed and built a prototype and was looking for an established radio manufacturer to develop and market a radio using their transistors. None of the major radio makers including RCA, Philco, and Emerson were interested. The President of I.D.E.A. at the time, Ed Tudor, jumped at the opportunity to manufacture the TR-1, predicting sales of the transistor radios at “20 million radios in three years”. The Regency TR-1 was announced on October 18, 1954 by the Regency Division of I.D.E.A., was put on sale in November 1954, and was the first practical transistor radio made in any significant numbers. Billboard reported in 1954 that “the radio has only four transistors. One acts a combination mixer-oscillator, one as an audio amplifier, and two as intermediate-frequency amplifiers.” One year after the release of the TR-1 sales approached the 100,000 mark. The look and size of the TR-1 was well received, but the reviews of the TR-1’s performance were typically adverse. The Regency TR-1 is patented by Richard C. Koch, US 2892931, former Project Engineer of I.D.E.A.
For more on the history of Texas Instruments, read Engineering the World: Stories from the First 75 Years of Texas Instruments.
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