Flashback Friday: Sony TR-63 Pocket Radios

by Gina 09/11/2009, in Flashback Friday
1957. A quarter would buy you a gallon of gas, the first animal orbited space (does anyone know the name?) and the word “pocketabe” had a whole new meaning as the world’s smallest transistor radio hit the market:
The TR-63.sonyTR-63
The TR-63 is filled with interesting and random stories. It was the little sibling of the TR-55 and much smaller than its bigger brother (or sister :). Uh-oh.  Slight problem…. It turned out that the TR-63 was just a tad too large to fit inside a standard shirt pocket. To help with this, sales representatives wore custom ordered shirts with pockets large enough to fit the TR-63.
For it’s time, it was stylish. This puppy sported various color options and a speaker grill of punched aluminum, which reinforces the case while making the radio more attractive.The TR-63 became a huge success because of its size and the fact that it consumed a lot less power than other radios out there and partially because of how it was marketed. “A radio in every home” was a common slogan for radios/telecommunications. Here the TR-63 was marketed as a radio that was not connected to your home but connected to you as a person. It was no different than your watch, something you can have with you wherever you go.
But a little known contributor to its proper place in radio fame was actually a robbery. On January 24, 1958, The New York Times newspaper headlines read: “4,000 TINY RADIOS STOLEN IN QUEENS; Burglars Move $160,000 Cargo From Building at Busy Rail Freight Spot.” A team of 4 or 5 thieves had stolen about 400 cartons of the T-63 transition radios, estimated over $100,000 in lost goods.
Although not the easiest thing to do to supply shipments quickly enough to replace the 4,000 stolen units, the publicity in the New York Times couldn’t have been better. It was 1958 remember and Sony was in its early days as a new brand emerging in the U.S. market. In fact, so much “brand buzz” happened that some Sony execs were teased by others across industries on how they could make a robbery for thier own company that successful.
Even before that notorious heist, the TR-63 radio was in high demand. To ensure that enough units arrived in time for the holidays, Sony flew a batch of 20,000 radios on a chartered Japanese Airline cargo plane. Ha, one could say it “flew onto store shelves” (queue slap stick drum roll).
So as we end our short week, hop into our car and get ready for weekend, I hope I’ve shared a fun story to think about on your drive home.  Because this isn’t just a regular Friday…it’s a Flashback Friday!
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