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The Enormous Radio Factory: 1925

The Enormous Radio Factory: 1925

The Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia circa 1925. 8x10 glass negative, National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress. View full size.


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AK Assembly

The women are making air-core inductors, basically a big roll of copper wire. Still used in electronics.

Factory work

Factory workers seem to get themselves into a routine and they work and talk to each other. I notice that most of these women do not appear to be unhappy. I worked in a electronics factory (maintenance supervisor) and my wife worked on the line. The women had a good time together and could do their jobs without thinking too much about it.They talked and passed the time with gossip etc. I still work in a factory that makes automotive parts and the workers are much the same even today. Factory work is not so bad and it generally pays a little better than retail.

What's on the Schedule?

Can anyone zoom in and see what that sign says? I'd like to see what they had planned for the day's quota!

[The goal seems to have been 440 (radios?) an hour. - Dave]

They do exist

OMG. A plus-sized woman! I don't know where some people get the notion that everyone was thin back in those days. Sure obesity might not have been as rampant, but there have always been fat people.

The Enormous Radio



While my wife gripes a lot about her job (runs a museum), these kind of photos really make me appreciate my comparatively cushy job (software developer). The Hine photos even more so.

I just can’t imagine doing this kind of work all day every day.

Enormous Is Right

That is one big room, and it engenders a lot of questions. I haven't got the patience to do it, but maybe someone can attempt to count the number of people in there. Who can estimate the square footage and the height? What were the noise levels? There doesn't appear to be any heavy machinery. Were the workers allowed to talk to each other? Probably not. Is there any written or spoken history of this place?

[Plenty of history if you Google Atwater Kent factory. The company's 32-acre plant at 5000 Wissahickon Avenue in North Philadelphia was sold to Philco in 1936. One of its gigantic buildings still stands (below). - Dave]

The Enormous Radio

Good title. And one of my favorite short stories.

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