Zenith Console Radio - Better heard than seen.

...At least that seemed to be the prevailing attitude about technology in the home back in 1948. Notice how this massive console radio was built into a cabinet that was basically a credenza or some other piece of furniture.

Back then, the radio was the center of the family room, the way the TV is now. After dinner or whatever, the family would "gather round the wireless" and listen to radio shows. people didn't have TVs in their houses yet.

So what changed? Whenabouts did the family decide it was okay for the entertainment electronics to look like electronics and not a wardrobe? I'm not sure, but maybe in The Sixties, around the time when Danish Modern design started to happen, and machinery became something to admire, and not an eye sore?
Nnnnnnope. There were still plenty of giant wooden boxes around in The Sixties. However, the controls weren't hidden. Maybe we're seeing here the gradual acceptance of visible electronics in the home? By The Seventies, maybe? Let's look.

Not so much. This is still a console radio (now re-termed a "stereo hi-fi" set). It's just all crazy and spacey looking because everyone watched Space 1999 and was also high on goofballs.

I think I'm barking up the wrong tree here. I think it's not matter of people's acceptance, but rather of the scale of the radio itself. Even back in The Forties, there were small table top radios that looked like radios. It's just that, when the thing is the size of a small piano, people want it to blend in with the decor of the room. A small thing can look however it wants and not be visually disruptive. We can now make an incredible-sounding surround system where the components are small and distributed around the room, so you hardly notice it. The hardest part is hiding the wires. It's like the room is INSIDE the radio. Whoa. Dude.

But if you're looking for a time when people were super into the crazy buck rogers stuff, no matter what size it is, The Seventies is all you need. I bet this Galactic Communications Terminal (My term. Not theirs) sounds like crap, but I still want it.

I'll give this old Zenith one thing, though. See how the radio tilts out on a door and can be operated from a standing position because the controls face the ceiling at a 45 degree angle? That's smart. We should see more of that. Stereo components are still designed as if you keep it on a shelf at eye level, or sit on the floor to operate it. ...or, just use the remote, which is far more likely. Never mind. I need some coffee. See you tomorrow.

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Jim D. said...

Thanks, Phil! Now I'll have a new euphemism up my sleeve for my next date night. "Honey, my heart sure would beat faster if you'd give me a zenith!"

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Happy to help, but don't limit yourself. This ad is rife with advertising babble. You can get the wife to give you a Cobra Tone Arm, or an Armstrong. But it may not go well, and you'll both have to go see a Consultone.


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