Teardown of iconic Sony TR-63 transistor radio from 1957

I'm reading Matt Alt's fantastic new book, Pure Invention: How Japan's Pop Culture Conquered the World. Early on in the book, he points to Sony's TR-63 transistor radio (introduced in 1957) as the beginning of Japan's gargantuan influence on the world through consumer electronics, toys, entertainment, and other aspects of popular culture.

I was curious about this transistor radio so I looked it up online and learned that IFixIt did a teardown of the radio back in 2009.

The TR-63 was introduced in 1957 - it was the first "pocket-sized" transistor radio ever made and the first Sony-branded product exported to North America, by the then-named Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo company (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation). It became a huge commercial success, over 100,000 units were sold.

It seems "pocket-sized" was a bit of a marketing gimmick at the time - although smaller than any competing product, the TR-63 was a bit too big to fit into a standard shirt pocket. So story has it that company salesmen wore custom-made shirts with slightly bigger pockets to show off the TR-63's small size. But unlike desktop radios of the day which were promoted under the idea of "a radio in every home", the TR-63 was uniquely marketed as something each person could own and carry with them. A foreshadowing of the Walkman and iPod, perhaps?

The TR-63 contains a whopping 6 transistors. By comparison, the Cell processor chip in the PS3 contains two to three hundred million transistors. That's an indication of the progress made in the electronics industry in the past 50 years.

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