You may sometimes see the Crosley name today on cheap record players, but from what we can tell that company isn’t connected with the Crosley Radio company that was a powerhouse in the field from 1921 to 1956. [Uniservo] looks at two of the very early entries from Crosley: the model VIII and the XJ. You can see the video of both radios, below.
The company started by making car parts but grew rapidly and entered the radio business very successfully in 1921. We can only imagine what a non-technical person thought of these radios with all the knobs and switches, for some it must have been very intimidating.
The model VIII had two large knobs, three small knobs, and a switch. Oddly enough there were very few markings on the knobs, as you were expected to know how to use a tuned RF radio. The large knobs were for tuning capacitors and the switch was for coil taps, while the three small knobs controlled the tube filament supplies.
We thought at first that each filament control knob had a jack above it. As it turns out, they aren’t jacks but peepholes. You sight through the holes to see how brightly the filament burns to adjust them properly. With the three tubes, you still needed headphones or an external amplifier. The variable capacitors are “book style” which is a rarity now. Watching the cam and spring adjust the capacitor makes you wonder how many other ways you could build a variable capacitor.
The XJ is similar although you’ll find an extra tube and peephole. There’s also a normal headphone jack. You can see some cost-cutting measures in this radio. It still used the book capacitors, though. These old radios are almost like craft pieces and we wonder what the person who wired them by hand would think if they knew we were looking at their work almost a century later.
If you want to know more about the man behind Crosley — and his dog — and how their desire to sell more radios led to the creation of the WLW radio station. Of course, the TRF design didn’t survive long and gave way to the superheterodyne.