Things called “walkie-talkies” span a fairly wide range. Most primitive, I guess we could say, are the “string phones.” These are essentially the old “tin can telephone” you may remember from your childhood. Less primitive are the wired communicators— and these are essentially telephones. At the top of the heap in sophistication, and expense, are the full-fledged wireless transceivers. You can probably guess which is which in these pictures! Yes, the Micro-Fone here and the blue & red Remco Space Commander are string phones. What they may lack in technology, the certainly make up for styling.
The black & red item below is yet another Remco product, this time a wired walkie talkie. Called the Remco Electronic, it’s wired but doesn’t use batteries or any other source of power—making it even more primitive than Alexander Graham Bell’s original telephone patent. The actual performance of such a thing is likely to be, as you may be able to imagine, less than satisfactory.
And here are some of the kid-magnet boxes these toys came in.
But the stunning Toshiba ZS-7210A (Japan, c.1965) shown here is a real transceiver. This would have cost somebody around $30-$40, a fairly serious outlay in 1965 dollars. But it would have an operating range of up to about a mile. Dealer claims of up to 5 miles were made for transceivers of this type, but such claims presumed you were on the open ocean or in outer space, two places I rarely went as a kid.
I find collecting walkie-talkies so fun and interesting that I did a book on them. I named it, imaginatively, Toy Walkie Talkies and I highly recommend it! All the pictures you see on this page I lifted straight from my book, without hesitation ore shame.
Against the coral color background is the Vanity Fair VF-1981 (1980, Korea). The turquoise Heathkit Jr. is made of the thinnest plastic I’ve seen on a product since shrink wrap. It was sold as a kit (USA, 1962). And finally there’s a pair of sleek, serious Sony walkie-talkies, model CB-200W. These were made in Japan in 1970.
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