Around the 1950s – 1970s many households poured over catalogs of Sears, Radio Shacks and maybe Lafayette Radio. Looking at the stereo’s, radios, or for some, Citizen band or Amateur Radio Equipment. This era promoted High Fidelity, or HIFI. The search to reproduce sounds as close to the natural original music being played. It also saw the veterans and their family members expand their knowledge with electronics, communications, many who worked in the specialized fields or entered the electronic marketplace. This article explores some areas of electronic, communications and audio equipment.
General Electronic Equipment:There was a demand for knowledge of the new electronics, which gave rise to Heathkit, a company who designed electronic products that an individual can build at a lower cost than buying an assembled product. The idea was that the builder would learn at the same time he built the kit. Products ranged from automotive, household, communication & test equipment and personal enjoyment like TV’s, stereo’s and educational courses. The most popular lines were for Amateur Radio operators (HAM Radio). Second most popular were the stereo line, with many high quality models. The major problem in buying these products on the secondary marketplace is the unknown skill of the builder. Likewise trying to sell these products, your buyer might have a technical background or is knowledgeable about what you are trying to sell. In the rare case, you come across a relative who gives you boxes of equipment, which you might not have an idea of what they do. Try to find someone who has a background in electronics, or look up a local amateur radio club. Most HAM’s have knowledge or will know someone who might be able to help you.
Communications & Amateur Radio Equipment:Many households from the 1950s to the 1980s had a shortwave radio. The most popular was Hallicrafters, an American company that started in 1932. Almost every returning veteran bought a shortwave radio for their home. The interest in communications gave growth to the amateur radio marketplace, which started in the 1920s and continues to this day. There were many radio manufacturers and until the late 1970’s contained glass or metal tubes. Companies like R. L. Drake, Collins, Eico, Hammarlund, Heathkit, Lafayette Radio Electronics, National Radio Company, Swan Electronics, World Radio Laboratories. If the equipment is complete, let say your uncle who was a ham, gave you the contents of his basement, it’s important to know what goes with what. You might throw away something that is needed to make other equipment a functional operational set. There are many unknowns of what one piece or another is worth. Yes, some sets could be worth a few hundred and maybe more. Knowing what you have is the first step. Some common sites are listed below.
Vintage Audio or HIFI:In the 1950s to early 70s console phonographs were popular. These sets started as mono channels, and in the mid 1960s stereo records took over. Console Audio cabinets have little value. Unless you fall in love with one, most are just thrown away. You can take the tubes out, which are still valued by the audio and ham radio community. But be aware, the tubes are unknown if they are working or not. Don’t be surprised to see values of $ 1.00 per tube. Vintage Stereo audio equipment has a following, and is sought after. Most of the companies started as American made, then the companies looking to lower manufacturing costs, moved production to Japan. Companies like Acoustic Research, Advent, Klipsch, JBL, Bowers & Wilkins, Bose, Boston Acoustic, Pioneer, Harman-Kardon, Marantz, McIntosh Labs, Sherwood to name a few. The baby boomers were the biggest buyers of audio equipment. Today, vintage audio buyers are finding stereo’s that are 50 years old or less, many from the 1970s and are refurbishing the electronics to make it 100 % functional. Sites that sell vintage audio, sell these pieces as fast as they become available. In the 1970′ the Federal Trade Commission got involved in the audio market, to insure manufacturers had power rating specifications that were not faked or fudged. This is not the case of today’s manufacturers.
The beauty and great sounding audio equipment paired with quality speakers out performs many of today’s consumer audio products. Look at any of the popular on-line sites that sell vintage audio equipment. Most of the asking prices are more than what the original equipment sold for when new. Today’s high end audio products are out of the price range of most households. Many of these companies are still manufacturing in North America, Europe or Eastern Europe. Vintage audio is very personal, usually a person had or dreamt about owning a certain receiver or audio equipment. What is seen for asking prices vary on different for sale sites. Our most popular electronic retailer in the 1970s and 1980s was Radio Shack. Many of the “Realistic” brands of stereos were made by well known manufacturers, like Kenwood or JVC. A unit that has been stored for ages and was owned by a smoker has less value than one which was reconditioned. In most cases the cost of reconditioning a device might equal what the unit is worth, or even costing you more than it’s worth.
Factors to consider:
1.Never plug in a piece of equipment that has been stored for ages.
2.Seek out someone who is knowledgeable about electronics.
3.Equipment that has smoker accumulation for years is undesirable to most persons. Equipment has to be cleaned beforehand.
4.Use available search tools for more information. Manufacturer and Model # are good places to start.
Note of Caution:With any electronic or electrical item, consult with a professional licensed electrician if there is any question of safety. Old electronic devices or audio equipment with material covered or worn out power cord insulation might cause a potential fire hazard or injury. It is also not a good idea to just plug in any aged electronic device into a wall receptacle. Every electronic device will have transformers and capacitors. Electronic components that can be damaged when a immediate surge of current when the item is turned on. A “Variac”, an adjustable transformer is used to start introducing a lower voltage on the equipment, which the voltage is raised slowly giving the components time to condition itself.
Sources of additional information:
Audio Equipment: History https://audiohistory.com/companieslist.php Canadian Buy & Sell Audio site https://www.canuckaudiomart.com
Vintage Audio Sites Dynaco https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynaco Vintage Classic Receivers All make https://classicreceivers.com
Audio Repair Centers https://www.hi-tronics.ca http://www.centekelectronics.ca https://www.audiophonie.ca/en/
Vintage Equipment sites: Heathkit https://people.ohio.edu/postr/bapix/HLegacy.htm
R.L. Drake http://www.wb4hfn.com/DRAKE/DrakePageHome.htm
Collins Radio https://www.collinsradio.org/cca-collins-historical-archives/the-equipment-of-collins-radio/
Amateur Radio Clubs Eastern Ontario Seaway Valley Amateur Radio Club https://www.svarc.ca
Ottawa Area Ottawa Amateur Radio Club https://oarc.net
Brockville Brockville Amateur Radio Club https://barc-on.com
Canada Wide Radio Amateurs of Canada https://www.rac.ca
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