THE CAR RADIO
Seems like cars have always had radios,
But they didn’t.
Here’s the story:
One evening, in 1929,
Two young men named
William Lear and Elmer Wavering
Drove their girlfriends to a lookout point high above the
Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, to watch the sunset.
It was a romantic night to be sure,
But one of the women
It would be even nicer if they
could listen to music in the car.
Lear and Wavering liked the idea. Both men had tinkered with radios (Lear served as a radio operator in
The U.S. Navy during World War I)
And it wasn’t long before they were
Taking apart a home radio and
Trying to get it to work in a car.
But it wasn’t easy: automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical
Equipment that generate noisy static interference, making it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running.
One by one, Lear and Wavering identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference. When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention
In Chicago ..
There they met Paul Galvin,
Galvin Manufacturing Corporation.
He made a product called a
“battery eliminator”, a device that allowed battery-powered radios to
Run on household AC current.
But as more homes were wired for electricity, more radio manufacturers made
Galvin needed a new product to manufacture. When he met Lear and Wavering at the
He found it. He believed that
Mass-produced, affordable car
Radios had the
potential to become
A huge business.
Lear and Wavering set up shop inGalvin’s factory, and when they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his Studebaker.
Then Galvin went to a local banker
To apply for a loan. Thinking it
Might sweeten the deal,
He had his men install a radio in
The banker’s Packard.
Good idea, but it didn’t work –
Half an hour after the installation,
The banker’s Packard caught on fire. (They didn’t get the loan.)
Galvin didn’t give up.
He drove his Studebaker nearly
800 miles to Atlantic City to show
Off the radio at the
1930 Radio Manufacturers
Too broke to afford a booth, he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up
the radio so that
could hear it.
That idea worked — He got enough orders to put the radio into production.