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South Carolina State Museum Receives Collection of Historic Transistor Radios

The South Carolina State Museum has received a large collection of these iconic electronics, along with another type of radio that once gathered music and information from around the world – the short wave.

The collection is the gift of Columbia radiologist Dr. Sam Friedman. “As a child in the 1950s, he developed an early fascination with these cutting edge tools for communication, and he started collecting,” said Director of Education Tom Falvey. “The idea that you could carry a radio – which was often a huge piece of furniture from the 1930s to the 1950s, and was still table-top sized into the ‘60s – in your pocket was absolutely revolutionary.”

Friedman collected each of the significant models of transistor radios from the 1950s and ‘60s, though the collection goes into the 1970s.

The collection contains 81 items, including a companion collection of cameras. Falvey said that the variety of the miniature transistor radios is unique. “It’s neat to look at the beautiful designs, which run the gamut from really detailed ones to quite inexpensively-produced models. And the breadth of the collection, the great number of brands, is very impressive.

Falvey said the radios will be available for research in the near future, but “they would make a great temporary exhibit at some point down the road.

For more information on the collection, contact Tom Falvey at (803) 898-4921 or [email protected].