I purchased this Sony Old Timey (not the actual product name) analogue transistor pocket radio in Akiabara, Japan in 2003. Transistor technology dates back to the 1940’s but if you were born in this century you may not even realize that before people listened to music on their phones they listened to radio stations on these. Billions of these little portable devices were manufactured and sold in the second half of the 20th century.
“Gramma, what’s the long thing sticking out of weird iPod?”
This miniature plastic marvel of a bygone era can receive AM and FM radio signals anywhere in the world, as long as you’re physically close enough to the signal, and you don’t have to pay for a data plan or an Apple Music account.
As is the case with a great deal of analogue technology, it is a simple machine entirely devoid of complicated computer parts that will inevitably wear out––while I’ve run through 6 generations of cell phones I’ve never needed to replace my Sony pocket radio.
It features a tuning dial, a volume dial which also serves as the on/off switch, and a headphone jack. That’s it. Everything you need and nothing you don’t.
It’s powered by a pair of AA batteries which seem to last forever. I may have to recharge my phone twice a day but years have passed between recharging the Duracells in my Sony.
The style is clean and simple. And the sound quality is simply… Poor. Yes, there is a catch with all pocket transistor radios: Even when close to a strong FM signal, with the dial tuned perfectly, you are not going to get high fidelity sound quality. These sorts of radios are best used for talk radio and news.
However, I am strongly of the opinion that a great song is a great song, and does not require the fullest sound possible to be appreciated. Just as classic movies were appreciated for decades as viewed on low fidelity VHS cassettes; the merits of a classic song will also shine on a transistor pocket radio.
Purchased for $30 brand new, and still available on ebay, amazon or craigslist.