Trifles That Count in Radio

 Time for some hobby news from 1927, courtesy of Popular Science Monthly. Since computers weren't very good in '27, your average home nerdist was probably into radio. This article was meant to help you iron out the bugs in your "radio receiving equipment". Radios were complex, new(ish) and fiddly. You either had to have a hobbyist living in your house or a solid relationship with a local radio repair guy.

Of course, as far as in-home entertainment went, radio was The Shit. TV wasn't real yet and movies were only in movie theaters. So, you had better maintain your radio's various compnents and systems, like the lightning arrestor, condensor, A-batteries, B-batteries, and of course tubes. Radios had such tubes! They'd burn out after a couple thousand hours, and depending on how big your radio was, there could be quite a few tubes in there. You had to figure out which one was the problem (with a tube tester, of course), and take the tube down to the radio dealer (yes, those existed), and get an exact replacement.

It seems that, in 1927, radio was like the PC hobby is (or was?). If you were Into Computers, you'd choose your components carefully and snap them together in the coolest case you could find. This used to be a much more common hobby in The Nineties. There are still those who like to "roll their own" computer, but more and more people are just as likely to buy a complete machine and plug it in. And that's if they even bother with a computer at all. Most common computing stuff can be done on a tablet or smartyphone.

So what will be the geeky hobby in the future that we will shake our heads at? 3D printing springs to mind as a possibility. Right now, it's an expensive, complicated dalliance for the technically savvy. Someday, when everyone has a reliable, maintenance-free thing-o-mat on their desk, ready to print out a replacement part for your coffee maker or a new battery cover for their TV remote, will we laugh to think that, at one time, only the geekiest of the geeks were into 3D printing (or just "regular printing" as it will come to be known)? We'll see.

Anyway, let's marvel at the trouble people went through just to listen to some radio. But first: What may people have been tuning into, back in 1927? We didn't have any Gaga or Katy Perry fill our heads with their emptiness. What could they possibly have been listening to in '27?

  • First coast-to-coast Rose Bowl Game broadcast.
  • First opera (Faust) on a national radio network.
  • First broadcast from Poland.
  • Debut of NBC's "Blue Network".
  • Debut of the Columbia Broadcast System.
  • First Religious broadcast (in France).
  • Canada's Diamond Jubilee celebration, the first nationwide Canadian broadcast.
  • The formation of the FCC, which used to try to do good things, believe it or not.
Click on each page for an embiggened version, natch.


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