Unique books on collecting radios and other vintage technologies

When I started collecting transistor radios decades ago, there was no documentation. There was nothing out there about them as collectibles at all. No articles, no books, nothing.

Regency TR-1, the world's first transistor radio. Shown here in its four original 1954 colors. Photo by Eric Wrobbel. https://www.ericwrobbel.com/books

Interested in their historical significance and smitten by their styling, I wanted to see and learn about all the different models of each brand. The only way I could do that was to go out and find them. And that’s what I proceeded to do—combing through flea markets and antique sales, buying everything I could find. It turned out there were many many more different models out there than I could ever have imagined.

I created these books to share with other collectors all the facts, figures, and details I accumulated. As a long-time artist and designer, my goal was not only to document the radios but give them the showcase they deserved, in all their glory, with their boxes, ads, graphics, and related things I’d found in years of research.

Tiny Standard Micronic Ruby transistor radio SR-H35. In 1965 this was the smallest transistor radio made. From the book 'Vintage Micro Transistor Radios' by Eric Wrobbel. https://www.ericwrobbel.com/books

Typically, books on collectibles are a pretty sad lot. They seem to fall into one of two categories. First are the ones that contain mostly a lot of dry text with a few dim little snapshots now and then. These read like a book on statistics. Though pictures are what we collectors most want to see, page after page of these bore-fests are “picture-free.”

The second sort of collector book has plenty of pictures, but you can’t lift the book. These are the oversized coffee table monsters that you can’t hold upright for more than two minutes without needing a chiropractor—and these are the books that, if they have any text at all, it’s eight pages back and in tiny six point type.

Sony transistor radio from 1958. This earliest version of the model TR-610 is from the book 'Sony Transistor Radios' by Eric Wrobbel. https://www.ericwrobbel.com/books

To my mind, both of these approaches fail their audience because they are oblivious of their audience. So when I began creating my books I made them the sort of books I myself would want—clear, focused, and friendly, full of large and sharp pictures, and above all, fun.

Each of these books is, as hokey as this may sound, a “labor of love.” I’m gratified that thousands of collectors worldwide enjoy them and that many have purchased each one as it came out. Some, I’m told, consider these books collectibles in their own right.

Click above to see more about each book.

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