Design & Make

Transistor Radio

by Sebastian Kaufmann December 19, 2009
ReadTransistor Radio

I was happy when I found these photos of the Telefunken Match transistor radio in the archive on the Delft University of Technology website. When transistor radios first came out in the mid 1950s, they were considered a status symbol. The very first one, the Texas Instruments Regency TR-1, cost more than 350 dollars by today’s standards.

As often with technology, prices dropped fast. By 1963, when the Telefunken Match came out, transistor radios were widespread. People didn’t need much convincing that being able to listen to music and the news almost anywhere was a good thing.

Telefunken Radio, 1963

The Match was designed by Richard Sapper (born 1932) and is one of his lesser known creations. Sapper, who has more than fifteen of his designs in the permanent MoMA collection, doesn’t like to stick to what he knows. He constructed clocks, cars, car tires, lamps, TVs, coffee makers, furniture, telephones and many other things. He says that this approach allows him to transfer knowledge of material and technology from one industry to the next.

Telefunken Radio Made In Italy, 1963

Sapper also designed the original IBM ThinkPad laptop, making a drastic change to the company’s appearance. Apparently IBM managers were shocked when they found out that roughly one-third of the ThinkPad’s sales were due to its design, and not its technology.

Richard Sapper-designed Transistor Radio.

 In this interview, Sapper explains that he wants to create a close relation between the owner and the product – like a teddy bear to a baby. This he considers, other than supporting the function, is the most important purpose of design.

Leather case for Transistor Radio.

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