Fallout shelter ads

On the always-excellent How to Be a Retronaut site, a great collection of 1960s fallout shelter ads, a perfect capsule of upbeat, cheerful fear-selling.

Fallout Shelter Ads, 1960s


  1. There’s something nefarious about an A-bomb shelter ad with a phone number that starts out “Trinity.”

  2. $57.62 for a transistor radio?  I don’t know the year of this ad, but say it was the same year as the Cuban Missle Crisis (1962) – that translates to about $410 after inflation.  Were radios really that expensive?  Or is this just using fear to increase perceived value and sell items for higher rates?

    1. Sad thing is, the transistor is highly vulnerable to the EMP from a nuclear blast and would likely be useless. They’d have been better off hauling down the old vacuum tube radio.

    2.  Yes electronics were very expensive. In that time it was common for a family to have only 1 television, and 2 or 3 radio’s. The killer app for amateurs then was to build a Heath Kit radio for 1/2 the price. Televisions went for $600 to $1200 back then. They were stolen quite often and there was a huge cottage industry in radio and television repair given how expensive they were.

    3. Yes, transistor radios were that expensive back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. This was the beginning of the transistor era, and everything with transistors was very expensive. I would suspect that you are also too young to remember when a 4 function (add, subtract, multiply and divide and maybe one memory) TI pocket calculator  cost $150, that was 1973.

  3. Hmm, I find it curious that the second fallout shelter is the flimsily-disguised HEAD OF A DALEK!!! Although, it probably could withstand the nuclear armageddon just fine.

    I take this as proof that Doctor Who is a documentary.

    1. Fiberglass isn’t blast resistant, but the mountain of dirt you pile on top of it could be.

      I do wonder what the load capacity of that design would be, the diagram doesn’t show any kind of support structure. Maybe they figured it would be a blessing to have the roof cave in and crush everyone to death. 

      1. The illustration shows what seem to be 4×8 roof joists, using the people for scale.
        As for the igloo design, 9″ thick fiberglass, covered with 9 feet of earth would withstand a blast from 20 miles from ground zero, but everything above ground would be gone. That hatch would probably be covered with debris, although the corrugated tube would probably stay intact. I must say that I would find it impossible to be trapped inside with 6 people, not to mention 11.

    1. The real price of fear, well fear and greed are to be found in the price paid for the armed forces. The threat of nuclear warfare was real, and will be real again. The first atomic age was blessed with the fact that the major players all had just lived through a international slug fest that dealt out 50 million deaths, and wrecked the world’s economy. The people who understand the true cost of runaway greed are gone. I assure you, the next time we face a international slugfest the players are all going to be fresh out of spoild childhoods, ultra-nationalistic, ultra-ethnic, and  not knowing what it’s like to have half your loved ones die in a war, or seen major urban destruction and starvation. When China starts laying claim to major chunks of the Pacific, or Pakistan really starts to liquify, I’m going to give some serious thought at building a fallout shelter. The next time around I have a feeling we’re going to be re-learning some lessons that might require a few mushroom clouds to drive old lessons home.

  4. My old 1962 Buick Skylark had the two CONELRAD frequencies marked on its radio dial, as all radios built during the period did.

    I hated the Cold War during its last few decades, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes miss it.

      1. Yes indeedy.  My dad worked for Ametek as a machinist on a bunch of aerospace and defense contracts.  We didn’t have health insurance before he started working there.  And I remember he brought home a model kit of the space shuttle Enterprise for me (complete with 747)  after his department did some work on the shuttle program.

  5. I live in Houston, and we have the distinction of having the largest number of fallout shelters of any city in the world. Kinda makes ya feel proud, don’t it?

  6. I wouldnt mind having a “shelter” or bunker or whatever, but that is because we get tornadoes from time to time.

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