Rufus Paul Turner (1907-1982)
Rufus Paul Turner | Developed the first practical transistor radio in 1949.
Rufus P. Turner trained as an electrical engineer.
During the 1940s, Rufus worked for lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania Inc. Here he helped develop the 1N34A germanium diode, used as a semiconductor in transistors to control the electrical current in electrical devices. Following the invention of the transistor in 1947, Rufus applied his knowledge of germanium diode transistors to develop several early pocket-sized transistor radios.
In 1949 – five years before the first mass-produced transistor radio became commercially available – Rufus published his designs for a transistor amplifier in the magazine Radio-Electronics. His article, Build a Transistor, is now viewed as a landmark in radio electrical engineering as it showed amateur radio enthusiasts how to construct a transistor radio.
Compared to often bulky valve radios, transistors revolutionised the design and size of radios. They enabled the production of truly portable and pocket-sized radios, which meant domestic transistor radios could be used widely outside of the home for the first time.
These two radios – both manufactured by Pye Ltd – show how the introduction of transistors revolutionised radios in the mid to late 1950s.
Pye Valve Radio
Model: Jewel Case P114BQ
Manufactured by Pye Ltd., 1955
Pye ‘All Transistor’ Radio
Manufactured by Pye Ltd., 1959-1960
Compared to the earlier valve radio, the introduction of transistors enabled radios to be less fragile, smaller, and lighter in design – and therefore truly portable.
Image caption: Rufus Turner in 1926, possibly at his amateur radio station W3LF
(Source: Rufus P. Turner with early radio, 1926 | MIT Black History) – Public Domain
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