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Atwater Kent: 1925
Philadelphia, 1925. Frank Aiken and Atwater Kent at the new Atwater Kent radio factory. View full size. National Photo Company ... 
Posted by Dave - 09/03/2012 - 9:44am -

Philadelphia, 1925. Frank Aiken and Atwater Kent at the new Atwater Kent radio factory. View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.
Atwater KentThe Atwater Kent radio was a quality set in the mid to late 1920's. My mother's family bought one in 1926 and still had it during WW2, when I would listen to it. Its power supply had been modified by then, and it lasted until 1949, when a 13 inch GE television set replaced it in the living room and it went to the garage.
Atwater Kent RadioThe radio on the table is the model 20 Compact, No. 7570, put into production in March 1925. Nearly a quarter of a million were made before production ended in 1927. One of my favorite sets.
Was this Frank Aiken the Irish politician or somebody else?
[Frank Aiken was chief engineer at Atwater Kent. - Dave]
Tuning InWorking one of these beasts was quite a chore.
There are a lot of things we take for granted in modern radios.
Atwater KentIn 1984 I married a (not so young) lady from Adamant, Vermont.  Down a dirt road from her parents' house was Kent Corners, home of the original farmstead of Atwater Kent.  A mile or so away was Maple Corners, where we had our wedding reception in the grange hall.  Just up the hill by dirt road (all dirt, around there) was the Old West Church, built in 1824.  Over the altar is still an inscription, "Remove not the ancient monument thy fathers have set".
Too bad the marriage only lasted four years.
(Technology, The Gallery, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Atwater Kent: 1927
... D.C., circa 1927. "Thomas R. Shipp group, Hamilton Hotel. Atwater Kent standing by radio." National Photo Co. safety negative. View full size. ... 
Posted by Dave - 05/02/2016 - 11:18am -

Washington, D.C., circa 1927. "Thomas R. Shipp group, Hamilton Hotel. Atwater Kent standing by radio." National Photo Co. safety negative. View full size.
Fuller is rightthat Kent walked away with big bucks, not a failure.  One of the big reasons that he closed the company down when he did was the threat of unionization by his workers.  he said that if they persisted in attempts to unionize, he would close the company.  They did, and he did.
The factory was eventually taken over by Philco and produced enormous number of radio before, during, and after, WW2.  Sometime in the late 50s/early 60s, Philco sold at least part of the property to the Government, and it became a Veterans Administration Data Processing Center, full of equipment that, by today's standard, was as about as advanced the radios made by Atwater Kent!
Model 33 in a Pooley CabinetThe set is an Atwater Kent Model 33 in a Pooley 1700-R-2 cabinet. Pooley had a deal with AK -- customers could order from their line of radio cabinets, and then pick from any number of available AK sets to go in it. The cabinets cost anywhere from $190 to $240, and the radios $145 to 390. That was a pretty hefty sum in 1927 -- even more so when you consider that the delivered radio-cabinet set came without tubes or a battery, which the buyer had to purchase separately. 
Mr Kent appears to be showing off the latest model -- the 33 was manufactured in 1927, and the Pooley 1700 started production in 1926. The radio isn't a Model 30 (manufactured in 1926) -- the knobs on the 30 were closer together.
Pinpointing the dateThis is one of those photos where, with a little detective work, one can easily figure out what month of the year it was taken. The cover of the Cosmopolitan magazine that woman is holding is clearly visible.
[February 1927. - Dave]
Attentive StareAlthough obviously a posed picture, interesting how everyone is "watching" the radio set. Replace the speaker grille with a small TV screen and this could be 1949 (at least, if you look more at the mens' outfits).
Looking at the radioYou see, if you look at the radio, your ears just happen to be pointing in the best possible direction for you to hear best as well.  One of nature's little tricks.
Attention pleaseIf you don't look at the radio, you can't hear it.
And the lady on the left has taken one of the drapery ruffles and fashioned a hat.
What are they looking at?Why is everyone looking at the radio? They have a good 20 years to wait until a screen pops out of that thing.
Radio daysThe fact that they're all looking at the radio is hilarious, and reminds me of a line from Woody Allen's Radio Days.  "He's a ventriloquist... on the radio!  How do you know he's not moving his mouth?"  I paraphrase, but you get the idea.  The one visible female face has a highly amusing expression on it.  Most everyone else appears somber and she's sort of simpering, seemingly unable to get into character.
Interesting PieceThe radio cabinet could double as a writing desk. I wonder if the area below the desk is a functional drawer or storage space of some sort or does it have any part of the electronics.
Atwater KentAtwater Kent provided radios for various manufacturers to include in their own cabinetry. This one looks like a model 30, produced in 1926 and notable for single-knob tuning:
Atwater Kent himself!Funny that I always assumed "Atwater-Kent" was a combination of two names, like "Nash-Kelvinator" or "White-Westinghouse." Unless, of course, the caption actually means "standing by Atwater Kent radio."
Note the Cosmo girl to his left--this being the days when Cosmopolitan was like a mixture of Redbook and Literary Digest.
RearrangedLooks like they might've dragged some furniture around to better compose the shot. A smart hunter would've swept that plant around to cover his tracks.
Play by PlaySteeeRIKE THREEE!! and he's OUT!
Thomas Roerty Shipp

Washington Post, Aug 20, 1926 

Greater Radio Sales Predicted Next Year
Dealers, Closing Meeting With Banquet,
Base Forecast on Broadcasters' Rivalry

A larger business in radio sets for next year was predicted at the annual meeting of the radio dealers of Washington, Maryland, and Virginia that closed with a banquet at the Lee house last night.  The high quality of radio programs being broadcast together with rivalry between the broadcasting stations to procure the best talent was the basis for the prediction.
A representative of the Atwater Kent factory reported that the Philadelphia plant had already received a sufficient number of orders to warrant the manufacture of more than 600,000 radio receivers this year as compared with a 400,000 order on hand at this time last year.  The dealers were the guests of William E. O'Connor, president of the Southern Auto Supply Co., at the banquet.
The dealers were welcomed by M.A. Leese, local radio dealer and president of the Washington Chamber of Commerce, followed  by greetings from F.C. Ferber, vice president and secretary of the Southern Auto Supply Co.  Others who spoke were C.W. Geisner and P.A. Ware of the Atwater Kent Co.; T. Cronyn, S.D. Goodall, G.O. Hamilton and H.W. Jarrett, all of New York and Thomas R. Shipp, of this city.

Washington Post, Sep 12, 1927 

"Better Broadcasting"
Talk By Bullard Today

Having explained to listeners, station owners, manufacturers and others the part they must play in the national program for better broadcasting, two members of the Federal Radio Commission today will being to enlist the cooperation of radio dealers in the movement.  To this end, Chairman W.H.G. Bullard will address the annual Atwater Kent dealers meeting at the Hotel Hamilton, taking for his topic, "How Radio Dealers May Aid the Radio Commission." At the same time Commissioner H.A. Bellows will address the Atwater Kent dealers in Philadelphia.
To day's program in Washington will open with a housewarming this morning at the Southern Wholesalers Inc., distributors, followed at 12 o'clock with a luncheon at the Hamilton.  Then will come an afternoon business session, concluding with a banquet at 6 o'clock followed by vaudeville.

Washington Post, Feb 11, 1952 

Thomas Shipp Dead in Miami
At Age of 76

Thomas Roerty Shipp, 76, veteran public relations man and one of the founders of the National Press Club, died yesterday in Miami, Fla., where he and his wife had been spending the winter.
Mr. Shipp came to Washington in 1908 to organize the first conference of State Governors during the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, who then appointed him secretary of the National Conservation Commission. He was public relations advisor for such corporations as General Motors, Standard Oil Co. of New York, the Pullman Co., Swift & Co., International Harvester and many others.
Mr. Shipp organized the first national and international publicity campaigns for the American Red Cross in World War I and headed the national publicity drives of the Y.M.C.A. and United War Work Campaign. A native of Morristown, Ind., Mr. Shipp was nominated by the Republicans for Congress but was narrowly defeated in the election.  He then became the Indiana member of the Republican National Congressional Committee and directed the publicity campaign for the party in 1914.
In 1914 he organized the Thomas R. Shipp publicity company, with offices in the Albee Building.  He lived at 3733 Oliver st. nw.
Mr. Shipp was a mason, a member of the Chevy Chase Club, Columbia Country Club, National Press Club, Artists and Writers of New York City and a member of the Indiana Bar.  Funeral services will be held Tuesday in Indianapolis, with interment there.

AK ClosingKent never "failed" in the radio business or in any other business. In 1936, he was a solvent multimillionaire.  He had his son, A. Atwater Kent Jr., sell the factory buildings and other company assets, which were all his personal, debt-free, property.  He retired to California, where he became famous for his flamboyant parties.  He died a wealthy and reportedly happy man. 
Atwater Kents were the bestAtwater Kents were the best set you could buy back then. If you ever compare a RCA, GE, or Philco radio from the 20's-30's to an Atwater Kent set of the same era, the AK radio wins by a landslide. Unfortunately the sets were too expensive for them to survive the Depression.
14th StreetI think the street outside the window is 14th, with the cars parked in the alley across from the Hamilton that connects 14th and Vermont (in between the current Continental and and Tower buildings). 
LusciousI wish I could see all those rich fabrics in color.  Velvets, brocades, satins...mmmm!!  They're probably in lovely jewel tones.  
(I also want all the women's shoes, especially the adorable mary janes on the left.)
Way Back My grandparents & I used to listen to the radio in the  evenings. Amos & Andy, Walter Winchell. This brings back good memories.
AK CabinetThe Pooley cabinet is a Model 32.
Mr. Kent sells his company.Sounds like he "went John Galt."
(The Gallery, D.C., Natl Photo)

Queens of the Radio: 1925
... "Radio set assembling room, 1925." Another view of the Atwater Kent factory in Philadelphia. View full size. National Photo Company ... 
Posted by Dave - 07/30/2012 - 10:05pm -

"Radio set assembling room, 1925." Another view of the Atwater Kent factory in Philadelphia. View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.
Just like my house.So, why are all the women busy while almost all of the men are doing nothing but standing around and watching?
Working Girls. But Not the Guys.I'm a dude myself and couldn't help notice. Geez, gents - at least look busy!
Fifth in lineThere is at least one busy guy working the assembly line.  Fifth person on the right. And I love the look the girl is giving the camera (fourth in line on the left).
Talk RadioSimple.
The men are done already with what they need to do and are waiting for the women to catch up. Maybe if they would stop talking so much they could get done too.
Radio GirlsLooks like one of the ladies in the foreground knows the photographer.
We've come a long way...Did anyone notice there's not a fat person in the picture. I bet the percentage of fat Americans was considerably smaller back then.
SpookySpooky if you think that every one of those people is now dead....
Smirking galThat gal is a go-getter. They called her 'ol two at a time Tula 
Everyone Look BusyAlmost everyone held still for the picture, the girls just did a better job of looking busy. The actual busy folks are the men in the far back who did not bother to stop and left a blur of motion as a testament.
Arthur Atwater KentWhat a great photo. 
Awater Kent closed the plants and shut down the company when his workers tried to unionize in 1936 (and after a decline in sales of high-end radios).
He quit the business, moved to California and lived out his days. Fascinating story and interesting radios.
I think this (1925) photo was just around the time they switched from making 'breadboard' radios, where everything was laid out on a board and operated by batteries (yup, 90v batteries).
After about 1925, they discovered that homemakers often didn't want to dust tubes and open bits of radios, and he started building enclosed cabinets.
I think the company that made the cabinets is still in business making furniture.
Mike Y
Dallas, Texas
[He also made millions off his patents for automobile ignitions, which is how he got his start. - Dave]
Atwater KentI wish I'd had this photo when I was a radio-electronics-obsessed little girl in the 1950's and my 1920's-educated dad kept telling me that radio assembly was a boy's hobby.
Spooky 2I have this same though about many of the photos on Shorpy. What would these people think if you could have told them that thousands of people would be looking at their face on something called a "computer" over 80 years in the future.
In this case, it is somewhat possible (although very unlikely) that one or two of these people are still around.
Flapper BobsI love how so many of the girls have the flapper style haircut, now most often associated with Louise Brooks. It's funny how the changing styles of coiffure always date a photo, much as the cars do when they are visible.  This one screams "mid-1920s." (But that fourth girl on the left did have something special going on.)
I was looking at a 1978 High School yearbook yesterday and every girl had the same Farrah Fawcett 'do. 
Atwater KentMy family had an Atwater Kent. I was told it was one of the first radios in the state. The model we had was made in 1921 though. You could have killed somebody with the metal horn speaker it had.
Atwater KentI really like Atwater Kent radios. Have repaired quite a few since 1990. A good hobby.
Atwater Kent 20CThese are Model 20C compact radios. Assembled faceplates are on the shelf behind them. The set used the two individual sockets plus the 3 socket island and a large round rheostat.  They are attaching components to the metal faceplates with brass bolts. After this, someone would solder the wiring on.
Fourth GirlThat fourth girl on the left is hot!  Yeah, if she's still alive she'd be over 100.  And, at my age, when this picture was taken, I'm old enough to be her father...  But, jeez louise, she's hot.  I wonder if she was the photographer's girlfriend.  That's certainly a familiar look on her face.  What a babe!
(Technology, The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Let's Make a Dial: 1925
Another happy worker at the giant Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia circa 1925. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size. Atwater Kent Atwater Kent made auto ignition parts including a distributor ... 
Posted by Dave - 07/30/2012 - 10:06pm -

Another happy worker at the giant Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia circa 1925. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
Atwater KentAtwater Kent made auto ignition parts including a distributor and coil type ignition.  I am very familiar with AK's early radio products and nothing here looks to be a radio component.  Could these geared shafts have been distributor drives?
[Could be. What say the Atwater Kentians? - Dave]
The ShaftThose are distributor shafts. The gear on one end engages the camshaft gear. The mechanical spark advance components can be seen on the other end, where our fetching young lass seems to be installing small widgets, possibly advance springs, from her box 'o widgets 
Why all the Atwater Kent Pics?Did this company have an in-house photographer or did someone visit for a day or two and take hundreds of photos?
I'm not complaining. I think all the photos are interesting but wonder how we have so many from this one radio factory.
[The company was a National Photo client. - Dave]
Atwater KentAtwater Kent made distributors for a number of cars, not the least of which was an accessory distributor for the Model T Ford.
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

One, Please: 1928
... for $65.00. I wonder how much it went for back then? Atwater Kent Radio This is an Atwater Kent model 55 or 60 Radio. These were AC ... 
Posted by Dave - 09/08/2011 - 9:07pm -

A street vendor and his radio-equipped cart circa 1928 in Washington, D.C. View full size. 4x5 glass negative from the National Photo Company Collection.
Old radioWe just sold that exact radio at an auction for $65.00.
I wonder how much it went for back then?
Atwater Kent RadioThis is an Atwater Kent model 55 or 60 Radio. These were AC powered sets, so where is the power coming from? These sets sold for about $100 without tubes. The speaker sold for about $34. They were quite popular and modern for their time (1929).
Radio IDI don't mean to contradict you Earl but if the date of the photo is 1925 then it can't be the Atwater Kent 55 or 60 since as far as I can tell neither was manufactured in 1925. The 1925 date makes it extremely likely that it was a battery operated radio from whatever company since Ted Rogers Sr. didn't invent the  first AC radio tube until 1925 and presumable they were pretty expensive in that first year of manufacture.
[The caption says circa 1925. Circa means approximately.  It's a guess. It could easily be a few years after that. - Dave]
Radio by the minute?So what was that guy vending? Radio by the minute?
If it wasn't a tube radio how did it drive that large speaker?
Hurdy Gurdy ManIt appears from the crank that this is a hurdy gurdy man who has updated his presentation with a battery powered radio. He was clearly a very with it gent. As Brent points out, batteries were the most common way and perhaps the only way to power a radio in 1925.  But where is the antenna?
On another subject, this negative has suffered some decay.  Can anyone identify the cause of the efflorescence?
[Looks like mold. - Dave]
AK RadioIt could be a "battery" model 67 with matching F7A speaker.
AK-55/60That radio looks very familiar, as I personally own an Atwarer Kent 60.  The 55 and 60 were identical, except the 60 has an additional tuning stage for fringe reception.  These models were introduced in 1929, and continued into 1930 and 31.  By the knobs it appears to be a later version, so I would guess the photo was taken around 1930.
One more note:  the standard 55 and 60 models were AC sets, but there were indeed variations available that used batteries.  This may have indeed been one of the variations.
Atwater KentIt looks like a battery cable going down to a box just in front of the wheel. If so, the set would probably be a model 67 with matching F7A speaker.
Pitchman In the depths of the Depression the daily 15 minute Amos and Andy show was afternoon break time. Barbers stopped in the middle of haircuts, bank tellers stopped vending money, and all at the time Amos and Andy came on the radio! For many years, from 1927 or so until 1943 Amos and Andy was the most popular show on the radio. 
This little street scene looks a great deal like an old time pitchman, perhaps with his cart loaded with some magic potion guaranteed to fend off everything from cancer to the social diseases, about to turn up the volume and gather a crowd, a "tip" in the pitchman's vernacular. 
 Thanks to the "vibrator supply, as soon as the 15 minute episode was over the spiel would start. 
That's a barrel pianoThe instrument on the cart is a barrel piano.  Not truly a hurdy-gurdy.  What most people call a hurdy-gurdy is more accurately a street organ or barrel organ or monkey organ (or, in Britain, a busker's organ).  Even these are not a true hurdy-gurdy. A hurdy-gurdy is actually a keyed wheel fiddle that is played by the operator, not a programmed barrel, roll, or book, and that dates back to medieval times. The simple fact that both the true hurdy-gurdy and barrel pianos and barrel organs are cranked has led to the blurring of the distinction between these various instruments.
(The Gallery, D.C., Natl Photo)

Wired: 1926
"Thomas R. Shipp Co. Atwater Kent window. Woodward & Lothrop." Department store window display of Atwater Kent radio equipment circa 1926 in Washington, D.C. National Photo ... 
Posted by Dave - 11/12/2021 - 6:35pm -

"Thomas R. Shipp Co. Atwater Kent window. Woodward & Lothrop." Department store window display of Atwater Kent radio equipment circa 1926 in Washington, D.C. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
Window DressingThat is one "serious" window display, one of the most impressive I have ever seen.  Not very often I say this, but I would actually love to have seen this photo in color.
Modern lifeNote the artwork on the wall -- an older man playing a violin with a young girl at a piano keyboard. A subtle message that society has moved on from "self-entertainment" to a more technical age, perhaps?
Mannequins?So would those be mannequins or live models in the window?
After seeing the manufacture of these radios (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) it is very gratifying to view them in such an elegant display.
 Atwater Kent Radio  is an excellent comprehensive web site with photos, brochures, schematics,  etc...  Most of those pictured here seem to be from the model 40 line.

[Dave, thanks for the close-up.  I'm very impressed with the quality of the mannequins for their time.  The woman does look a bit more porcelain in greater detail. - PER]
Hi-techThe equipment displayed in this window was, in 1926, the ultimate in home entertainment. This was your wide-screen, high-definition, cable-delivered, surround-sound television. Commercial radio broadcasting in North America had only been in existence for just over 5 years and was still a new, exciting and constantly-developing medium. No doubt a lot of time, effort and money when into this dramatic display.
Atwater KentsThey are from left to right - Model 30 in a Pooley cabinet with an H horn sitting on top (just for looks as the Pooley has a built-in horn). On the woman's right is another 30 in a different Pooley cabinet. The girl is operating a Model 35 with H horn; on the floor is a Model 30 in a normal cabinet; on the right is a Model 32 in still another type of Pooley cabinet; on the table is another Model 32, this one in the normal cabinet.
(The Gallery, D.C., Natl Photo, Stores & Markets)

Media Room: 1926
... like. The Circular Staircase is supposed to be good. Atwater Kent That was an up-to-date radio set for 1926 -- an Atwater Kent Model 30, ... 
Posted by Dave - 08/05/2012 - 3:11pm -

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Home of Mary Roberts Rinehart," prolific writer of mysteries. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
This is her Gutenberg page
Certainly prolific, it will be interesting to see what they are like.   The Circular Staircase is supposed to be good.
Atwater KentThat was an up-to-date radio set for 1926 -- an Atwater Kent Model 30, one of the first sets on the market with a single tuning dial. Typical sets had three tuning knobs, and you usually had to adjust all three to tune a station.  This is a battery set but the outboard wet-cell battery is nowhere to be seen.
[This is one of several photos taken in the Rinehart house, showing the same radio in various settings. Perhaps one of the many circa 1926 Atwater Kent promotional shots in the National Photo archive. - Dave]
HIBKPrincipal member of the HIBK (Had I But Known) school of mystery writing, as in "Had I but known when I descended the stairs to that musty cellar ..."  A very successful formula in its day.
Better Living... through basketry.
That doesn't look like a very comfortable chair for radio listening.
Memory jogger!Seeing Mary Roberts Rinehart's name took me back to high school in a hurry. I read several of her books then, and thoroughly enjoyed them all, though I suppose they might seem dated to me now. How nice to see a place where she may have begun to spin a tale!
I'll take it!Just add it to the side of my house, please.
Very nice.I like this so much better than today's equivalent. Peaceful.  Books are a nice touch.  Figure the odds of seeing any books in today's media rooms.
Model 30First will be many questions about the radio. It is an Atwater-Kent Model 30, the first AK to utilize one-knob tuning, a prime selling point. Here are a few pictures of a hulk I discovered to show what the radio becomes after 84 years.
My roomI love this room so much I downloaded it. I want to live in there with the french doors, and comfy airy wicker, and growing things and floor to walk on and not polish, and read a few mysteries written by the occupant, who is surely still in residence. Who would want to leave!
What Is it?It doesn't look like a radio but I'm not sure what else that would be on the table. And I don't see an electric cord running from it. Would it run on a battery? And is that a fan or maybe a heat lamp in the background?
[That's the speaker. - Dave]
2419 Mass AveMary Roberts Rinehart lived at 2419 Massachusetts Avenue NW.  Today the house is occupied by the Zambian Embassy.
View Larger Map
What a beautiful sunroom!Or "solarium," as it was known in fancier houses. I love the lamp with the beautiful morning glory art shade. But what is most delicious is that tasteful radiator cover.
Mary Roberts Rinehart and her husband, Dr. Stanley Marshall Rinehart, moved into that house in the early 1920s, when he was appointed to a post in the Veterans Administration. She stayed until 1935, when the stairs got to be too much for her (she’d suffered a heart attack the year before).
The house, at 2419 Massachusetts Ave NW, north of Sheridan Circle, is now the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia. The sunroom is still there.
(The Gallery, D.C., Natl Photo)

New Old Stock: 1925
... All-Treads sign is in the window in both photos. Atwater Kent Radio This establishment was probably an Atwater Kent distributor. The company sold its radio products along with ... 
Posted by Dave - 05/02/2016 - 11:20am -

Rockville, Maryland, circa 1925. "Montgomery County Motor Co." (the Chevrolet dealer seen here). National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.
Parts Dept.This is in the smaller building to the right ("Parts," "Used Cars") in the previous post. The Seiberling All-Treads sign is in the window in both photos.
Atwater Kent RadioThis establishment was probably an Atwater Kent distributor. The company sold its radio products along with ignition parts through automobile outlets during this time. The set is a Model 24 receiver and Model M horn speaker. This is one of the few pictures I have seen showing how the set would be hooked up to a 6 volt car battery for powering the tube filaments and a high voltage dry battery for the plate voltages.
Ceiling constructionAnyone know what that ceiling is? I know drywall wasn't around in 1925 so I'm curious as to what the method was there? Some kind of plaster board perhaps with battens?
Also check out that floor. Concrete tiles?
[Drywall was indeed around in 1925. Used in the construction of many government buildings in and around  Washington during World War I.  - Dave]
Simplicity itselfJust think how simple it must have been working on those engines!  And amazingly many an old Model T got about the same mileage as today's complicated cars.
Up To DateA customer who waits in the chair had the latest Atwater Kent Radio and speaker at his command, if the batteries were up.
Not fussyIt seems to be a Chevrolet dealership that has no problem also selling Ford parts.
Have a SeatI worked for a bearing company in Fresno that started in 1912. We still had the roller bearings (like those pictured), babbit material, and chains for the drives of the old trucks and cars.  The old place had what appears to be the same style shelving, too. Would also like to note the nice chair in the right of the photograph.  Anyone think it is a Stickley??
More WeathermenSomeone's keeping serious track of the weather, by the look of those atmospheric pressure charts.
Keeping WarmAt left is the ubiquitous potbellied stove, so that staff and customer alike could keep warm while discussing that valve spring or tire patch.
(The Gallery, Cars, Trucks, Buses, Natl Photo)

What Could Be Simpler: 1926
... display in the very center had been pre-Farked. Atwater Kent Model 35 "What could be simpler?" applies to to the Atwater Kent Model ... 
Posted by Dave - 08/08/2012 - 12:38pm -

"J. Fred Huber Radio window," 1217 H Street NW in Washington circa 1926. "Phone FRanklin 36." View full size. National Photo Company glass negative.
Farking not requiredIf I didn't know better, I'd say that the display in the very center had been pre-Farked.

Atwater Kent Model 35"What could be simpler?" applies to to the Atwater Kent Model 35, which featured a single knob for tuning back when the majority of radios had three. The Model 35 sold for $65 less batteries, speaker and tubes.
J. Fred HuberHuber first opened shop on 1222 G street in 1925, moving to 1217 H street sometime during the summer of 1926.

Washington Post, Nov 22, 1925

Huber Opens New Studio
Announcement was made yesterday of the opening of a new radio studio by J. Fred Huber, until recently manager of the radio department of Lansburgh & Bro.  Mr. Huber will conduct his studio in the store of McHugh & Lawson, 1222 G street northwest, and will handle radio sets and accessories featuring Radio Corporation of America and Atwater-Kent products.
Previous in his last employment, Mr. Huber was superintendent of operations in the United States engineers and quartermaster departments of the army, and later in engineering practice on the Panama canal.  At one time he was wire chief for the local telephone company.  Assisting Mr. Huber in the conduct of the radio department will be E.G. Machamer, a former department manager for John Wanamaker Co., and Ray A. Dunbar, who served during the world war as a radio ensign in the navy.

I am going to have nightmaresabout that girl. Creepy. No neck. 
Dumb 'ol babyThey had to superimpose J. Fred's face onto that poor kids body.  No kid has ever been that ugly.  And you should have seen my brother!
Tin CeilingLove the old tin ceiling in the background.   Surprisingly, those have made a comeback in recent years.
(The Gallery, D.C., Natl Photo, Stores & Markets)

The Enormous Radio Factory: 1925
The Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia circa 1925. 8x10 glass negative, National ... of this place? [Plenty of history if you Google Atwater Kent factory . The company's 32-acre plant at 5000 Wissahickon Avenue ... 
Posted by Dave - 07/31/2012 - 3:42am -

The Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia circa 1925. 8x10 glass negative, National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress. View full size.
The Enormous RadioFascinating!
The Enormous RadioGood title. And one of my favorite short stories.
Enormous Is RightThat 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]

PerspectiveWhile 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.
They do existOMG. 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.
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]

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.   
AK AssemblyThe women are making air-core inductors, basically a big roll of copper wire. Still used in electronics.
(Technology, The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Gift Ideas: 1924
... Laundry vs. The "Reliable" Laundry. - Dave] Atwater Kent Breadboard Radio I've bought and sold a few of those Atwater Kent ... 
Posted by Dave - 05/02/2016 - 11:22am -

Washington circa 1924. "Southern Auto Supply Co." A nice holiday display of A-K radios and B&D power tools. National Photo glass negative. View full size.
Best giftThese warm holiday store windows of yore are a lot of fun, but the best gift we "picture peepers" have had this season is Shorpy. Your site is simply grand!
Really, Dave ....You call that a "holiday" display?
[Yes I do. Spark plugs as stocking-stuffers. Can you get any more Christmasy than that? - Dave]

Expensive Drill!WOW, $58 for a drill in 1924!  What is that in today's dollars?
Southern WholesalersLocated at 1519 L street N.W., the company reorganized and changed its name to Southern Wholesalers circa 1927, likely as a response to a growing line or non-automotive inventory including refrigerators and other home appliances. The company was founded by William E. Conner and passed to the control of William E. Conner, Jr., after his father died in 1953.  They remained in business at least till the mid 1960s, becoming the primary wholesale distributor for RCA in the Washington area.
Speaker HornsI wonder what that state-of-the-art sound system was going for.
Ka-ChingThe equivalent today for this $58 drill set would be $731.27.
Radios were expensiveI used to collect radios a few years ago. Some of the original prices for these things would have put them out of reach for the average consumer. I remember a 1930s Zenith console that retailed for $750 back then. I ended up buying a 1936 RCK K-10 console for only $75. The cabinet was in sad shape but the chassis was good.
This site has some of the old radios and their original sale values. You could probably still find some of the old 1920s TRFs (tuned radio frequency) for a decent price but the cost to replace the old triode tubes would be more than what you paid for the radio set.  
Fancy digsQuite a fancy edifice for an auto parts store.  Lots of neat stuff there, like a really nice bench grinder (I need one of those), and an ad for Perfect Circle rings (they were bought out by Dana).
Another "Mystery" PhotoDave, do you have any idea why this photograph was taken?
[The storefront photos generally seem to have been commissioned by the owners or their landlords, sometimes by their competitors. - Dave]
Quotation marks for emphasisWhat intrigues me is the reflection in the window of a store across the street with "SANITARY" Something-or-other. Sanitary by association? By our standards? By comparison?
[Washington was home to both Sanitary Grocery and Sanitary Lunch. "Sanitary" being a popular appellation for such establishments (barbershops, too) back when people were first becoming germ-aware. To our eyes the punctuation certainly has the look of irony quotes. Which I find kind of amusing. The Reliable Laundry vs. The "Reliable" Laundry. - Dave]

Atwater Kent Breadboard RadioI've bought and sold a few of those Atwater Kent Breadboards.
That's a few thou sitting in that window, and much more if someone matched up the display upon which it sits.  The console and table radio, not really that collectible.  But that Breadboard is drool time.
Television setsIn 1954 when our family purchased our first TV set, a Stromberg-Carlson 24-inch console model, Dad bought it at the local International Harvester dealer, Orscheln Brothers, as there were apparently no TV specialty dealers in the small Missouri town where we lived.
(The Gallery, D.C., Natl Photo, Stores & Markets)

Radio Noir: 1926
... Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Thos. R. Shipp Co. -- Atwater Kent window display at Little & Company, 13th & I Streets N.W." More ... 
Posted by Dave - 11/12/2021 - 3:25pm -

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Thos. R. Shipp Co. -- Atwater Kent window display at Little & Company, 13th & I Streets N.W." More specifically, the Atwater Kent Model 30 radio. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.
Couple of thingsFirst, is that busy busy busy backdrop actually a massive rug? Second, what are the two little squares on the chair? My instinct is to say a reflection but somehow that makes no sense to my eyes. Third, why does it look as though the radio's cabinet is hollow and open on one end, with an up-sloping part ... sorry I don't know how else to describe it. No I have not been imbibing unless you count sparkling water.
Face your radio!Isn't that speaker facing out toward the left? Sitting in the chair it would be radiating out to the window, wouldn't it?
Lots of Atwater Kent info here, but I haven't found that cabinet yet:
I love the history and quaintness of old radios but, like old cars, have no wish to own any!
The backdrop... definitely looks like a rug. The two little squares indeed appear to be a reflection to me. Look to the center left, you'll see two similar reflections. The hollowed out open part is what I assume to be a feature to improve acoustics.
Couple of things part 2I believe the hollow end of the radio cabinet is the horn for the speaker.  So cool in my opinion.
Rugged RadioI think the backdrop is a rug because fringe is visible along the right side of the picture and the body of the design has a visible texture. Electric sound amplification was very new in 1926 and the sloping sound board was probably an Atwater Kent attempt to improve the broadcast volume. The right angle controls were likely to make chairside tuning easier.
The radio has appeared in Shorpy beforeThe cabinet is an add-on feature:
Hand-me-down chicStrange to see anything in a prominent window display that looks like a large family after 12 years have just given their tattered belongings back to the store for consignment.
Spanish ShawlLying on the chair, one of the most popular accessories for the well-dressed flapper in the mid-1920's.  Memorialized in a song titled, you guessed it, Spanish Shawl!
The CabinetThe Radiomuseum learns that the cabinet is a Pooley Model 2000-R-2 "Arm Chair". It contained a powerful Pooley Amplifying Horn with AK driver, space for both "A" and "B" batteries and a charger, if desired. Beside this, there is a small drawer for tools, log card, etc.
In the Shorpy submission Atwater Kent: 1927 Mr. Atwater Kent himself was pictured standing by a Model 33 in a Pooley 1700-R-2 cabinet. the comments will give you a lot more information.
Reflections in the glassMany of the squares and other bright spots are reflections in the glass window.  Note how some are doubled (such as the pair in front of the chair).  Note also the car headlight reflecting off the lower-right part of the picture.
(Technology, The Gallery, D.C., Stores & Markets)

Our New Life: 1936
... Administration. View full size. The House That Kent Built It's interesting to note that the wood used to make part of the ... the sewing machine table) is from the shipping crate of an Atwater Kent console radio. Note, too, that 1936 was the year Kent closed the ... 
Posted by Dave - 07/12/2014 - 2:40pm -

July 1936. "Migratory workers' camp in Yakima, Washington." Displaced farm families from the Dust Bowl states working as laborers in the Northwest's fruit orchards, living in government-run tent camps. Medium-format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.
The House That Kent BuiltIt's interesting to note that the wood used to make part of the tent wall (to the right of the boy sitting on the sewing machine table) is from the shipping crate of an Atwater Kent console radio.  Note, too, that 1936 was the year Kent closed the doors of his Philadelphia factory and moved to California.
Five will get you ten, the radio isn't inside the tent.
You don't need a weatherman . . .Is that a wind vane in the left background? If it used to be a windmill, there sure isn't much left!
Keep Calm and Carry OnMy heart goes out to these folks. Uprooting your lives and moving no telling where just to make it. I wonder how these people ended up, better or worse off. Looks like Dad and son are waiting for Mom to come in from the orchards, maybe for some mending to be done with that old treadle machine. Dads shirt sleeve and sons knee britches. I would love to have a treadle. No electricity needed!
ThankfulPhotos like these remind me to be thankful that my parents, who were born the very end of the 1920s, were both from Washington. My father's hometown is Ellensburg, which is very close to Yakima, and my mother was from Walla Walla, down near the Oregon state line. Their families weren't totally unaffected by the depression, but the land didn't turn against them, like it did in much of the country.  My mother's people were farmers.  Although she and her parents had to live with Grandpa's parents until 1934, and things like new clothing were rare, they always had plenty to eat. I wonder how many of the people in these pictures stayed in the northwest, and how many eventually returned to their previous homes, once things there had improved. 
Dbell, that area is well known for wind! When my father was in college, it was customary for the young men to use egg white, like a precursor to hair gel! 
PropsThat weather vane is just for showing the direction of the wind—this one has a propeller on the front that would spin in the breeze.  I have a Singer pedestal sewing machine just like that one in my small collection, and I once helped build a tent house virtually identical to that one for a museum display.  It was surprisingly comfortable, but then, I didn't have to live in it.
FedorasSome wear them well, others not so well. This man had looking debonair nailed even in a numbingly humble situation.
(The Gallery, Arthur Rothstein, Camping, Great Depression)

Ruf-Dry: 1924
... that. The radio shown in the store window next door is a Atwater Kent Model 35, which according to Alan Douglas's "Radio Manufacturers of the ... 
Posted by Dave - 06/30/2011 - 11:27am -

Washington, D.C., circa 1924. "Palace Laundry (Elite Laundry)." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
DetachableIf I remember correctly they were attached to the shirt at the back with a stud. Another stud at the front kept it together there. At school it was always a problem not to lose the studs.
I suppose the theory was that collar was the part that became grubbiest first and so could be changed mid-week. Shirts were changed once a week - less of a problem than you might think in cold England before central heating.
Rest easy, OTY!I well remember the sprinkling bottles, OTY.  And I also remember what clothes pins were for.  In fact, as I push birthday #75, I remember a lot of things you don't see any more.  But good riddance to many of them!
Ruf dry or damp washDoes anyone else alive today remember the "sprinkling bottles" our moms used to have which were hand-shaken, pierced "hose nozzle" type gadgets with corks (that fit into the bottles of water) that she used to sprinkle clothes, roll them up and have them prepared for ironing? If the weather was humid and one did not get around to ironing them the same day, the rolled-up clothes, linens, whatever, had to be refrigerated in a towel or allowed to hang and dry again to keep them from getting mildew spots.  Please let there be somebody else who remembers this. 
Only the best!"Elite" Laundry!  Don't you bring your old low class rags here, we only wash the best and fanciest clothes. 
But seriously, I love those deep commercial entrances with long display windows on each side of the door.  It has a classy look lost in todays cookie cutter strip malls.
IroningI sure remember the sprinkling-water part of my mother's ironing procedure. We didn't have much humidity in No Calif, so she never did the refrigerating-the-wash bit, though. One aspect always fascinated me: she'd buy gallon jugs of distilled water from the drug store to use with her steam iron, rather than tap water. We also had an ironer, or "mangle" as I've since learned it's sometimes called. A big white-enameled thing she'd have to wheel out into the kitchen to use. Did sheets on it, I think. I can't remember where the thing was stored when not in use. Drying was strictly a clothesline affair until we finally got a dryer sometime in the late 60s.
Sprinkling bottlesI recall recycled glass vinegar bottles with holes punched in the top being used to dampen clothes before ironing (before the advent of the steam iron). Sometimes the holes had already been punched because we used to sprinkle our French fries with vinegar right from the bottle. Even the restaurants did this before they came out with the little vinegar dispensers.
Heinz sold their vinegar in glass bottles before they came out in plastic. I still have an old vinegar bottle around here someplace.
Linen suitsIn "Washington Goes to War", David Brinkley described the process used to clean a linen suit.  The suit would be disassembled, then each piece washed by hand.  The pieces would then be hung to dry on the roof, and finally put back together.  Ten bucks, and a weeks time (longer in cloudy weather).
More on IroningI still iron, though not like before.  In Maryland, the summers are VERY sultry, and we did refrigerate sprinkled clothing. The distilled water was recommended so that there would not be a mineral buildup inside the steam vents of the iron. It disabled the steam setting of the iron by clogging up the vents.  Today I use tap water.
Your mother was a real pro in many areas of housewifery, tterrace, and I admire that.
Not just the fridgeMy mom didn't just refrigerate her sprinkled clothes, she sometimes put them in the big chest freezer if it was going to be a few days.  We had a big mangle iron, too.  My Mom got so good with it she could do men's dress shirts with it.
On each sideOn the lower left, in the neighboring store, sits a nice radio.
And on the lower right, in the reflection, is a white car. Pretty unusual back then.
Starch, Please I remember my grandmother using one one of those sprinkler bottles. I also remember her boiling rice the night before and straining the liquid through many layers of cheesecloth to remove any stray grains of rice. Then she would use that to starch shirt sleeves, cuffs and collars, also pant legs as well. 
The Unplane TruthI'm often surprised at the level of detail these photos capture. The first thing I noticed was that "Elite" had been painted directly onto a quite roughly finished board. You can quite clearly see the knots under the paintwork. A very impressive camera.
[The "Elite" isn't painted on -- it's nailed on. - Dave]
Sprinkle sprinkle little starchYes, my mother also had a sprinkling bottle for ironing. And she put clothes in the refrigerator. But she didn't sprinkle them to put them in the refrigerator. She took them out of the electric dryer half done, so they could go there. The sprinkle bottle was to touch up things that needed more detail ironing, or things that had wrinkles but had not been washed.
Electric dryersWhen we went to Scotland back in 1962, my mother was telling her cousin about how she had an electric washer and dryer. Her cousin thought Canada must be terribly backward that homes didn't have "drying cupboards" -- narrow metal cabinets with a gas heater that you would hang your clothes in to dry. "An hour or so later, they're dry!"
Mom tried, to no avail, to explain that 20 minutes in a tumble dryer would dry an entire load of washing, from socks to bedsheets.
Sprinkle bottlesMy dad used a sprinkle bottle, too, for his Marine Corps uniforms. Mom couldn't do it perfectly enough to suit him, so he did them himself. 
My aunt apparently LOVED to iron! Even after she got a drier, she would pull clothes out of it while they were still warm, sprinkle them, and shove them into a pillowcase, to make sure they were good and wrinkled! She even did that with my cousin's jeans. He found it a bit embarrassing going to high school in starched and creased Levis! 
CollaredSome day I need to go research how collars could be separate from the shirts.  Do not believe I have ever seen that and I'm semi-ancient myself.
Just checked and the sole vinegar in our pantry* is in a glass bottle.
*is this word still used?
A tint situationAnd I also remember my mother dyeing various textile things in the washing machine.  The next load was always quite iffy, if not spiffy.
Dating the PhotoAlthough the caption states that the photo is "circa 1924", there is evidence that it is a bit later than that.  The radio shown in the store window next door is a Atwater Kent Model 35, which according to Alan Douglas's "Radio Manufacturers of the 1920s", was introduced in July 1926.  Indeed my Atwater Kent catalog dated September 1925 does not yet show this groundbreaking model.  The Model 35 was a single tuning dial battery radio, which was a breakthrough in convenience when it was introduced.  The Model 35 was also the first Atwater-Kent model to be housed in a metal case, a feature that allowed A K to lower the price by a reported $15.  Shorpy has in the past featured a number of photos taken inside the Atwater Kent Philadelphia factory.
The second radio, only partially visible, appears to be an RCA Model 16, introduced in September, 1927, again according to Douglas.
I'm not sure what the item is in the small box below the Atwater Kent.  It looks vaguely like either a transistor radio or a pocket calculator, so perhaps the picture is actually much newer!
Separate collarsCollars and cuffs used to be separate units from the body of the shirt.  (I'm not sure how they were secured -- this was even before my time.)  The theory was that they were the part that got dirty, while most of the shirt remained (relatively) clean.  That way, you could wear the same shirt for days, only replacing the visible dirty parts as needed.
Drop HereI wonder if someone after writing name plainly and pulling the handle ever dropped the clothes on the entryway instead of inside the door.
2902 X StreetI noticed that this is not the first Elite Laundry shop to be featured here.
I wonder if anyone has been able to narrow down a possible location of this newest one? 
Location, maybeSo I've been doing some research. The address is 2902, which means probably somewhere in Columbia Heights, Georgia Ave area, or Georgetown. Judging by the buildings in the window reflections, I would guess Columbia Heights. The reflection looks a lot like 2901 14th Street, although one window seems to be circular at the top rather than square.
One more for OTYI remember my mom sprinkling the clothes, rolling them up and putting them in the frig in the summer (humid in Mpls) and she also got a mangle for ironing sheets.  Whoever irons sheets?  Mom did, plus my dad's underwear, etc.  Times were different.  I am 63 and a lot sure has changed. (She says as she checks her iPad).  Ha ha ha.  Whole new world!
Location foundThis is 2902 14th Street in Columbia Heights. The row houses reflected in the windows on the other side of the street still stand today. A huge condo/apartment building now occupies the side of 14th where the laundry was.
(The Gallery, D.C., Stores & Markets)

Mary Makes a Radio: 1925
... "Starting assembly of set (Mary Ramsey)." A worker at the Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia. National Photo glass negative. View full ... 
Posted by Dave - 09/04/2012 - 12:59pm -

1925. "Starting assembly of set (Mary Ramsey)." A worker at the Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia. National Photo glass negative. View full size.
r.s.v.p.Can someone please explain to a foreigner what the cat's pajamas means.
[Click the link. - Dave]
Radio makingPrinted circuits came into general use in the mid-1950s. For years Zenith was the lone hold-out advertising their TVs as "hand crafted" until labor costs forced them to quietly abandon this mantra and switch to printed circuits like everyone else. Today all electronic equipment is made of integrated circuit chips (ICs) using fully automated equipment.  The radio assembly girl is long gone. 
Quality...Made to lastBoth the radio and the women.  Wonder if anyone is taking photos of the people working on assembly lines today so they can be posted on Shorpy in 2090.
ErgonomicsThe seating is certainly not designed for comfort. But the tools of the trade--soldering iron, side cutters, parts bin--haven't changed much.
She's taken, boys.Although Mary is the cat's pajamas, the ring makes me think she is married or engaged.
Pretty GirlI've always hoped my Atwater Kent 20c radio was assembled by a pretty girl.
Nice smile!No wonder the photographer chose to take her picture. 
She's wiring the components, holding the radio chassis upside down, right? I know old vacuum-tube radios predated for the most part the use of printed circuits, and thus the components were arranged on a metallic chassis and then wired manually from underneath. 
I seem to recognize the electro-mechanical component used to select the frequencies at the left of the chassis; that would be the large knob you used to tune in your favorite station. 
Yes, that's the tunerYes, that stack of interleaved metal plates is the tuner.
Back in the '70s there was a gentleman who lived in my mother's neighborhood, who was in his nineties at the time, and he had an Atwater-Kent tabletop radio.  It was a huge thing, and he would lift the lid to show off the glowing tubes. And, it still worked!
Variable CapacitorThe device on the left is a variable capacitor wired in either series or parallel with the coil (tube-shaped with wire wrapping) attached to it. The two in combination comprise a "tuned circuit," which can be varied in frequency.
Well, now I knowwho made the radio 80 plus years ago I am working on restoring tonight! 
What a sweetie!Absolutely charming!
Cat's PajamasThe cat's pajamas (and the cat's meow, the cat's whiskers) was a very popular expression in the 1920s, associated with the daring and unconventional jazz-age flappers, usually meaning, hip or fashionable. The lexicographers William and Mary Morris suggest that these "cat" expressions may have originated even earlier, first used in girls' schools.  Other sources attribute coinage to Tad Dorgan, sportswriter and cartoonist. The original use was definitely American, but the cat's pyjamas, the cat's meow also caught on in England.
Modern to this day.That sure must have been a nice modern place to work.  No wonder the company showed it off in so many excellent photos.  Note the modern conveyor belt configuration.  Mary's counterpart works in this exact manufacturing configuration in (some of) the modern factories of China.  An incredible example can be seen in Edward Burtynsky's recent outstanding documentary, "Manufactured Landscapes".
20 Big Box Across the AgesI have two of those AKR Model 20 (Big Box) Radios. Those where battery sets and there was two main models the 20 (4640) Big box and the 20 Compact(7570 or 7960)that was just a smaller version.
(See: )
Its really neat to think that the radio in the picture may be one I have on my shelf. These are great photos of the AKR factory. I am impressed on just how clean it is. Also I really love the jig for holding the chassis upside down so you can wire it up. Gonna build one for myself.
That's my Grandmother!How amazing to find this pic of my grandmother!  Yes, she is charming, beautiful, sweet and was the most amazing woman I have ever known!   I believe she is about 19 in this photo and engaged as the ring on her finger would suggest.  
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Tune In Tomorrow: 1928
... Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1928. "Assembling room, Atwater Kent radio factory." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View ... 
Posted by Dave - 05/02/2016 - 11:24am -

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1928. "Assembling room, Atwater Kent radio factory." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
Getting in tune The subject of this photo, an attractive young woman, looks to be assembling an adjustable (or tunable) capacitor. The metal plates of the movable half would move in and out from between the plates of the fixed half, thus changing the frequency that would be received.  She looks to be working on the movable part. 
I Like My Girls and Capacitors Variable Assembling the variable capacitors which were the heart of the tuning circuit of radio receivers and transmitters for decades.  One or more plates were mounted on a shaft which rotated the plates between a set of plates fixed on a base.  Your pocket 9 volt AM transistor radio had them, but they were a lot smaller.  With a few minor exceptions, micro chips have relegated variable capacitors to the electronic buggy whip bin.   
RxCarpal tunnel waiting to happen.
Amazing. You mean people used to work in factories, in this country, in the old days? And I thought everything was always made in third world countries. Wow.
[From the Shorpy Chamber of Commerce: Electronics manufacturing and assembly today employs many more people in the United States than it did in 1928. Below, workers at an Intel fabrication plant in Lehi, Utah. The biggest producer of manufactured goods on Planet Earth is not China or Japan but the good old U.S. of A.! - Dave]
Variable caps, or ??It looks like both the large disks and the smaller (spacer?) washers are circular. That won't work for a variable capacitor, as the rotating set of plates needs to present more or less extension in between a fixed set as the shaft turns. These could be Selenium rectifier stacks, for an AC-powered radio.
Variable NameNow more aptly named capacitors, up until at least the late '50s they were known as condensers. 
"Amos 'n' Andy"went on the radio in 1928 and sold more radios than Uncle Miltie did TVs in 1950.  I'm sure Atwater-Kent, Philco, Zenith, and all the radio makers plus Pepsodent Toothpaste were most appreciative for that jolt in sales.
As Andy may have said "A'int dat sumpin!"
Variable CapacitorsThey'd be called variable condensers then.
I thought that's what they were but the plates seem to be complete circles, which won't work for a variable capacitor.
Capacitor vs CondenserIn this debate I look to that eminent Time Travel pioneer "Doc" Emmett Brown. (see 'Back to The Future', 'Back to The Future II, and 'Back to The Future III')  His revolutionary Flux Capacitor clearly shows that the term "capacitor" was accepted well before November 5, 1955.
Not a rectifierThis photo predates the invention of selenium rectifiers by 5 years. 
It was some time in the late 20s to early 30s that indirectly heated cathodes were invented to allow the filaments to be powered by AC electric. Otherwise, they had to use batteries which was inconvenient with the high current requirements of early triode vacuum tube filaments. 
Around the same time, more efficient pentode vacuum tubes were invented. They offered more gain which helped improve reception and reduced the number of amplification stages required in a receiver. 
re: Capacitor vs CondenserYou may be right.  In fact, we both may be right.  Or, less likely, I may be wrong.  In any case, happy clear-channel receivings to you.
Variable Cap for SurePhotographer posed capacitor so rotor plates could be seen. Atwater Kent produced Model 42 radio in 1928 which used three variable caps ganged together.  Model 42 used a tube in the power supply and not a selenium rectifier which were not produced until the early 1930s.  See picture of top view of Model 42.
It's a variable capacitor / condenserSelenium rectifiers weren't invented until 1933 so assuming the date on the photo is accurate it couldn't be a selenium rectifier.  Close inspection of the magazine holding the parts for assembly and the assembled parts in the back ground lead me to believe they are indeed "D" shaped and therefor a variable capacitor / condenser.
Re: "Doc" Emmet BrownNot only did he know it was a "capacitor", he knew how properly to pronounce "Gigawatt"!
(carefully de-splitting my infinitive)
BobsDid any woman NOT have a bobbed hairstyle in the '20s?
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

The Women of Radio: 1925
1925. "Atwater Kent radio factory, Philadelphia. New addition." Can we pick up the pace, ... resistors. Back in the '50s, my grandpa gave me his 1926 Atwater Kent, which I promptly and stupidly took apart. I remember the feel ... 
Posted by Dave - 08/25/2012 - 12:57pm -

1925. "Atwater Kent radio factory, Philadelphia. New addition." Can we pick up the pace, girls? National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.
Wirewound resistorsAt least the nearer girls are winding resistors.  Back in the '50s, my grandpa gave me his 1926 Atwater Kent, which I promptly and stupidly took apart.  I remember the feel and smell of those wirewounds.
Strange to think that the girl who made those resistors is probably in this picture somewhere.
Coil windersMy best guess is that they are winding coils to be used in radios. If I remember correctly, some coils were used in the interstage transformers and some others were for band selection. One type of radio used to have a selection of coils wound on a coil former that could be swapped out depending on what band you wanted to pick up. 
Years later, Dynaco of Stereo 70 fame made Philadelphia its home as well. 
What I Did on My Summer VacationAprons provided, unless you disdain their use. Not too many young men here. Or were they supervisors?
TrendyIt's pretty obvious that the pageboy haircut was the fashion of the day. Anyone know who or what was the trendsetter?
Bob & LouiseLouise Brooks should get credit for the bob cut. She was truly too hot for Hollywood and really gorgeous.
In answer to my own question, I'll say ...Clara Bow
Big operationThese ladies are making many, many radio parts. 
The coil winders are interesting. They are driven by a shaft under the benches, with leather drive belts like those on sewing machines. I have a version of this machine made in the fifties, and it's quite similar in appearance. 
I'd be interested to see what the process looks like up close. Did the machine guide the wire along the length of the coil as later ones did, or was that done by the operator's skill? 
Oh, and the huge soldering iron looks like something to make stained glass windows, not radios, with. They are the size of a pencil now.
[Below, from another A-K photo. There are around a dozen on this site. Click to enlarge. - Dave]

Oh, my back!I'm imagining sitting on one of those stools, bent over for 8+ hours a day. My neck and back ache just from thinking of it..
I want one now, Daddy!"Alright, we're all unwrapping Wonka bars now! An extra quid in your pay for the one who finds a Golden Ticket!"
Thanks for the closeupIn the closeup you posted, the rod above the coil being wound appears to have three grooves in it - it looks like it's guiding three wires at once. You can faintly see the three wires.
I'd guess that they wind three coils at a time, then cut them apart. (They can't remain connected together in that arrangement when used in a radio, as their magnetic fields would interact.)
Thanks again for the fascinating look at how it was all done those many years ago. 
Soldering in fluxThe large soldering irons are necessary for working on the point-to-point wiring of vacuum-tube electronics.  The slimmer, "pencil" irons (with their lower-wattage heat) came along with the advent of solid-state gear.
Compared to the tiny surface-mount components of today (look inside your cellphone sometime), the parts comprising these "Olde Schoole" radios were huge.
It's been said that women are less error-prone than men when doing assembly tasks.  Working in manufacturing, I've seen this firsthand. The ladies have the knack.
Irene Bobs Her HairThe initiator of the bobbed hair craze is said to have been the dancer Irene Castle. She had her hair cut short in 1914 before going into the hospital for an appendectomy because she disliked having other people dress her hair. She wasn't trying to set a trend, but she sure did! 
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Yin and Yang: 1928
1928 or 1929. Production workers at the huge Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia. View full size. National Photo Company ... 
Posted by Dave - 09/11/2011 - 4:26pm -

1928 or 1929. Production workers at the huge Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia. View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.
Where's Scoob?I've always preferred Velma to Daphne.
Yin and YangA bit harsh David. I'm disappointed.
["Harsh"? - Dave]
Milk and waterThe so called good-looking one looks insipid to me, milk and water.  The plain girl looks like she has a bit of life in her.  Anyway, glasses make anyone look less attractive.
David!I find it hilarious that someone called you David- like a mother calling her child's first AND middle name when they break a window or something...
Anyway- I don't find it harsh at all, there was no inference that one is better than the other. As stated, some prefer Velma to Daphne!
I still vote for Yin, though!
The one with very cute.
Dustin HoffmanHe was doing Tootsie way back in the 20's?  
Beautiful on the insideNo, the nose does not come off with the glasses, but being the oldest living person on the planet, I would bet my life that the less comely girl on the right was a loyal and devoted friend and a family-loving faithful relative to her loved ones. Yes, we all believe that a "pretty" exterior means that the interior matches the pleasing countenance.  I can verify that such is not always the case.  The homeliest woman I ever met was also the most wonderful, caring, giving and trusted woman I ever met. Do not judge a book by its cover.

Just so you knowOld "Dave" is quite a joker as he himself added the diagram of the internal organs to my lowly comments, just to spice things up.  It reminds me of the cuts of meat diagrams at the butchers with the chuck roast, kidneys, round steak, etc.  Thank you Dave for always being witty and a sport.   I really am addicted to Shorpy in case you didn't notice.  Live long and prosper.
NecklaceI would LOVE to have that necklace that woman is wearing. 
Miss Yin, Miss Yang1)  To: The Gentlemen who are able to see beyond the cover, your comments lightened my heart.  From: A good, old ugly book.
2)  To further support the yin and yang, I borrowed from Wikpedia: 
The concept of yin and yang describes two opposing and, at the same time, complementary (completing) aspects of any one phenomenon, object or process. 
Yin -- shady place, north slope, south bank (river);
Yang -- sunny place, south slope, north bank (river), sunshine"; 
From me, you can't have one without the other.
SpectacularThe girl wearing the eyeglasses may or may not appear as attractive, but she does look smarter.
Judy In DisguiseI guess I'll just take your glasses.
Quick to judge...I find it funny to read comments that rush to the defense of the woman in the George Burns glasses - it's like people feel sorry for her or something. For all we know, she may have been a terrible person named Hildur, and been the office pariah. Or perhaps she was a saint in disguise. Who knows?
Most of the time we have absolutely no idea what these people were like - but it's certainly fun to try and fill in the blanks!
Anyhow, I think the woman in the center of the image is very beautiful with that gorgeous skin and the hint of a smile. 
I'll BetIf Velma and Daphne were to go out together on a Friday night, all the boys would initially fly over to Daphne, quickly be bored to tears by her and spend the rest of the night buying drinks for Velma, who would keep them entertained with clever jokes and bawdy songs.
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Suitcase Wireless: 1924
... this type of radio completely replaced the TRF radio that Atwater Kent made a fortune from. It later became known as the All-American five tube ... 
Posted by Dave - 08/09/2012 - 3:18pm -

Washington, D.C., circa 1924. "Brent Daniel, formerly of the Radio Laboratory of the Bureau of Standards at Washington, with the first portable Super-Heterodyne, his own design. The seven vacuum tubes, batteries, loop antenna, loudspeaker and other necessary units are completely self-contained in the carrying case. He has been able to hear Pacific Coast stations from this outfit." View full size.
BatteriesThe batteries on the right power the low voltage high current filaments, probably 6v in parallel; the batteries on the left supply probably 48v each in series for a jolting 144 volts for plate current.  Keep your fingers out.
Batteries were the problem; they're heavy, expensive and costly to replace, which they are often.
If you can't pick up anything, you can at least keep yourself warm from the heat it throws off.
[The 15-cell batteries on the left are 22.5 volts each, or 1.5V per cell. "Heavy Duty 6" on the right are labeled 1.5 volts (per cell, I guess). - Dave]
The ultimate in portabilityIt's the size of a Breadbox and only weighs fifty pounds!
You just know he was thinking that they'll never get any smaller than this!
The latest technology..."Transistors Under Glass"
Portable, all rightIf you have a dolly!
And thirty years later.It came down to this size. This is the first commercial transistor radio sold in 1954 by Regency. I remember listening to many a Giants game one those transistors. I wasn't around for the one in the main photo.
ReflectionsI love it when one of these old photos contains a reflective surface that provides a bit of unintentional insight into the background.  In this case, each of the silvery tubes tells a slightly different story - depending on which one you look at, you can see the subject's hands, legs, and feet, the camera and a bit of the photographer, the large window that runs the length of the studio, some sort of lamp that's projecting a halo of light onto the ceiling, various bits of furniture and shelving, and if I'm not mistaken, part of the (adjoining?) building outside the window.
At least we can figure it out!Unlike an iPod, at least the components are somewhat easy to understand. Wonder what he would think of an iPod?
Complete in Itself

Washington Post, July 15, 1923.

Make Successful Test of
Portable Suitcase Radio Set

Local Enthusiasts Get Clear Reception
 With Type Built by Brent Daniel

Various types of portable radio receiving sets have appeared from time to time in the last few months. While taking different forms, all the sets require either an external coil aerial or overhead antenna when in use, thus limiting their use to stationary installations or specially equipped conveyances.

A Washington manufacturer recently has standardized a design of portable receiving set which is complete in itself. The entire outfit, including all the batteries and coil aerial, is contained in a medium-sized light-weight suitcase.

This portable receiver is ready for important use at any time by merely closing the switch which lights the filaments of the six UV199 vacuum tubes used in the radio audio amplifier receiver. This amplifier employs three stages of DX-12 radio frequency transformers, detector and two audio stages. The same type instrument in nonportable form has been used repeatedly in the reception of transcontinental radiophone signals by employing a three-foot square coil aerial.

The builder of this portable set, Brent Daniel, recently made a series of tests to determine the practicability of its use in an automobile in motion, and in general outdoor reception. WCAP, the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone station, was tuned in when the set was located on the fourth floor of an office building. Leaving the set in operation with the musical program from the broadcasting station coming in clear and loud, the set was carried downstairs and placed in an automobile without once interrupting the reception. When the car started off, the ignition spark was quite audible with the set placed near the bed of the machine, however, by placing it in different positions, the spark was not audible. … 

These tests, and the reception accomplished later with this portable set demonstrated its scope of usefulness in the hands of the auto-tourist or vacationist. With a high-class broadcasting station within a few hundred miles range, the user of such a set is assured of entertainment, regardless of his location. … 

The outstanding feature of this portable receiver is that when the summer season is over and a radio set is wanted for the home during the winter, it is only necessary to remove the amplifier receiver unit from the portable case and place it in the regular mahogany case which is furnished for indoor use.
The superheterodyne receiverThe superheterodyne receiver and FM radio were both invented by Edwin Armstrong, generally acknowledged the greatest American radio engineer. A Signal Corps officer in WWI, he gave his patents to the US government during both WWI and WWII. FM radio contributed to Allied victory in WWII since it provided communications when AM did not. Armstrong lost a years-long patent fight with RCA and committed suicide in 1954. His wife continued the fight and eventually won the FM patents from RCA. Armstrong's life is documented in the book and Ken Burns' film "Empire of the Air". 
SuperheterodyneThe big word "superheterodyne" means that this radio was quite advanced over the common tuned radio frequency (TRF) radio of the day. The fact that it has seven tubes and only two tuning knobs is unique among 1920s radios. Later, the two tuning knobs were put on a common shaft, allowing the single knob we're used to. 
The trick used in this model is that it converts the station's frequency to a lower intermediate frequency that's the same no matter which station you're listening to, and amplifies the weak signal using an amplifier that's factory-tuned to that one frequency, instead of requiring the listener to tune several amplifier stages to the station's frequency. Hence the need for fewer tuning knobs. 
By 1935, after the patent mess got sorted out, this type of radio completely replaced the TRF radio that Atwater Kent made a fortune from. It later became known as the All-American five tube radio, after the bean counters whittled every last penny from the design in the late thirties.
Ultimate geekHe's even got his pocket pen protector!  This must have been very advanced for 1924.
Dry Cell BatteriesZinc-carbon chemistry gives 1.5 volts per cell, so all batteries made up from them in series will be multiples of that.  The "A" battery was for the filaments, "B" for the high plate voltage (often 90V), and "C" for the grid circuits of the vacuum tubes (often 67.5V, so three of those 22.5 bats in this - four would give the 90V).  The UV-199s (triodes) in it have 3V filaments, drawing 0.06 amp each.  Larger current capacity is achieved by using cell electrodes with more surface area (so larger and heavier cells) or by connecting smaller cells/bats in parallel.  On those large "Twin Cells" on the right their terminals are marked "carbon +" and "zinc -".  Burgess has an interesting history with its distinctive "zebra striped" product.
Zenith TransoceanicThe largest radio I sold was the Zenith Transoceanic Radio. Zenith produced this shortwave radio that could be powered by AC or batteries . It was first produced in 1942 and continued to be made until 1981. In 1960 it sold with the batteries for about $160, figuring the average U.S. wage at the time at about $4000, it cost about 2 weeks pay. It weighed in excess of 25 lbs.
Not the only portableI happen to be the owner of a RCA Radiola AR-812, which is considered the first commercially produced superhet, and, which was considered a portable radio. Production began in 1924, and the radio sold for the bargain price of $220! It's an enormous thing, one foot high by one foot deep by three feet wide, with a mahogany veneer. I have a wonderful ad somewhere showing two guys camping, with fish in the pan, "listening to the big game". The tubes are encased in beeswax to protect them during transport. This feller's is a homebrew model. To understand the importance of the superhetrodyne technology, one must realize that there were several competing systems vying for dominance when the superhet came out. Today, if you have a radio, it's a superhet, period. 
Many of the facets of radio we take as given today were not yet common when these radios were being built. For example, the mHz system was not yet adapted, so every single knob on the radio scales from 0-100. Volume knobs, tuning knobs, everything. Gotta love it.
[Spelling note: heterodyne, not "hetrodyne." - Dave]
(Technology, The Gallery, D.C., Harris + Ewing)

Radio Girl: 1925
1925. Winding transformer coils at the Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia. National Photo Company Collection glass ... 
Posted by Dave - 09/04/2012 - 2:43pm -

1925. Winding transformer coils at the Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
Wissahickon AvenueThis picture is taken in Atwater Kent's bright new factory on Wissahickon Avenue.  Built in mid-1924 at a cost of $2 million, it originally covered 5 acres and eventually covered 32.  You can see how fresh and unscarred the tops of the assembly benches are in this excellent picture, taken less than a year after this huge factory opened.
Coil WinderThis little lady certainly is a cutie, but she looks like she should still be in school! It's amazing to think of all the jobs like this that are now done by machines. I never even thought those coils were hand wrapped. 
They still do it by handOf course, the people who wind transformers these days are Chinese, but the methods have not changed much.
[I'll bet they work by candlelight. The girl in our 1925 photo is watching an electric motor wind the coils. - Dave]

WindingsThese circular coils are surely for inter-stage radio frequency transformers, or maybe they are tuning coils. Power transformer windings would not be on tubular formers. 
Misc. ItemsThere is what looks like an automotive distributor cap setting on the box she is working at with a rag in it. There is also a house hold type fuse setting next to the box and one by the soldering iron. I wonder if these were used in the box she is using.
Wound by hand [or not]In the recent past decades one would come across electronic construction projects with coil winding instructions such as "5-1/2 turns of #24 enameled wire, 1/4" spaced, on a 3/4" o.d. form." It might even specify what material the form was made of. Often any other coils for the same circuit might require different wire sizes so one would need to invest in several spools.  If one was going to be doing a lot of this there were some mechanical devices to assist -- most based around what resembled an egg-beater hand drill.
[The box in the photo is an electric motor, which is doing the winding here. - Dave]

Hot MamaShe can wind my coil anytime.
Statutory?Whenever I see a lovely young woman in photos of this vintage whose beauty reaches across the decades and excites passions of this nature in me, I always have, in the back of my mind, the sneaking suspicion that she is about 15 years old.
[You two should get together ASAP. - Dave]
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

The Test Table: 1925
1925. "Atwater Kent at test table." Namesake of the Atwater Kent radio empire at his Philadelphia factory. View full size. ... 
Posted by Dave - 09/03/2012 - 10:44am -

1925. "Atwater Kent at test table." Namesake of the Atwater Kent radio empire at his Philadelphia factory. View full size. National Photo Company Collection.
Zounds What Sounds?If they are testing those radios aurally I have to wonder what that room sounded like, with all those guys switching around the dial making Theremin-like noises and static between tuning in to the handful of radio stations available.  Maybe they made no sound at all and relied on gauges.  I'd rather imagine cacophony, though.
[Each bench has a large thingamajig with dials. - Dave]
Look busy/blurry, the boss is hereLooks like a line of Model 20s being built...
AK Test BenchThere aren't any speakers visible so I imagine they were looking at their instruments to test the finished radio. On the bottom of each set would have been a tag with a number of who inspected the set. At least there is on mine.
Parting ThoughtsToday that young man behind Mr. Atwater would surely have a ponytail. Hair parted in the middle today means there's a lot more hair hanging down the back. Of course, any number of "older" guys have a VERY wide part down the middle of their head to go along with their pony tail. How did Springsteen put it? Oh, yeah, glory days. Which brings to mind, sadly, the recent demise of the hippy dippy weatherman, George Carlin. What that has to do with Mr. Atwater posing with his workforce, I haven't a clue.
AK PicturesI hope to see more AK pictures like this posted soon. I'm going to buy some prints of some, if not all of them. Just can't decide what size I want.
Hidden BreadboardsI am wondering why there is a breadboard (probably 10C's) under each test table covered up so not to be easily seen. I'm wondering if they were used as some type of quality check to compare the selectivity or something to the 20C's. 
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Heavy Metal: 1928
Philadelphia circa 1928. The Atwater Kent factory, which made radios and auto ignition parts. National Photo Company ... with the thermostat! Arbor Presses In 1936, when Atwater Kent closed his company, a list of "surplus" equipment was issued. The ... 
Posted by Dave - 05/02/2016 - 11:27am -

Philadelphia circa 1928. The Atwater Kent factory, which made radios and auto ignition parts. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.
Yes pleaseI'll take one of him. No need to wrap it up.
No need to wrap him up.Of course there is no need to "wrap him up". Chances are he is already boxed!
Hey I've seen that...We have a Greenerd tabletop arbor press identical to that sitting on a workbench next to the lathe at work.  I never suspected it might be 80 years old...
Greenerd arbor pressIt's somehow comforting to know that there are businesses still making similar products after all these years:
Anybody recognize the part that they are stamping out here. It looks like there's one of them there on the work surface. Part of a coil or magneto maybe?
BoxAnybody know what the locked box (in this case unlocked) is on top of the press is?
Give us a call at GreenerdHere at Greenerd we are still making the same arbor press we made 125 years ago (only up to 7 tons though, we switched the heavier tonnage presses to hydraulic). The #3 is still the best seller. The parts that fit that press are made to the same size specs today. 
Any questions, please call me 1-800-877-9110 Ext. 248.
LockboxThe unlocked box may contain the pressure regulating control for the large press in front of the worker. The black cylinder just below the box may be the regulator itself. The box end is clear so the operator can verify the setting; there are some notes pasted in the window. The lockbox would prevent anyone but the shopmaster from setting the pressure. Hmmmm, I need one of those to keep my kids from playing with the thermostat!
Arbor PressesIn 1936, when Atwater Kent closed his company, a list of "surplus" equipment was issued. The entire plant contents were sold. Listed were 200 of the Greenerd #3 Arbor presses! The big presses behind the man were, I believe, Southwark 3250 psi hydraulic presses with steam platens for Bakelite molding (there were 23 of these). The box above may have been a Yarnell Waring dual pressure automatic operating valve, which was advertised as being supplied with the presses. Note the indicator through the window and two notes, probably for the two pressure settings. By the way, the Greenerd web site is interesting (at least to a machine freak like me). Of interest: 20,000 feet of leather drive belting was also sold. 
Holy Cow!Back in 2012, I was working in an electronics factory that had a bunch of those presses still in use.  One of the big ergonomic challenges was to make sure operators weren't on them long enough to get overuse injuries.  A cool thing about this design is that most people won't leave fingers under the press when their other arm is working the press, so you don't need a light curtain like you do with a hydraulic or motor activated press.
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Radio Factory: 1928
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1928 or 1929. "Atwater Kent radio factory." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View ... 
Posted by Dave - 05/02/2016 - 11:49am -

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1928 or 1929. "Atwater Kent radio factory." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
Future ProblemOur photograph's subject is tightening the setscrew of a pot metal pulley on a radio's variable capacitor.  These particular pulleys became a problem for collectors of Atwater Kent radios as the pot metal they were made of would swell and crumble over time. In their final incarnations, the pulleys were made of brass. I wonder if Atwater Kent had a maternity leave program.
Tune In TomorrowIt would appear that this young lady is attaching flywheels to the shaft of a variable capacitor -- which, with the attached coils, make up the tuning circuit of the radio.
Buggy Whips and Variable CapacitorsVariable capacitors were part of the tuning circuit of radio receivers and transmitters for decades.  Digital tuning has relegated variable caps to very specialized uses not common to modern home electronic devices.  The old tube type radios and TVs not only provided a dimension of sight and sound but one of smell as well.  I fondly remember the warm, aromatic fragrance of wire insulation, bakelite and wax fixed capacitors that the old sets exhaled.  I recently found an antique radio shop which had several sets running and I was transported back in time by the aroma.  Of course the heat from the old sets cooked the components and the tubes burned out like light bulbs.  The early TV repair men made house calls, but that ended and the set had to be lugged to the repair shop or Dad took the questionable tubes to the do-it-yourself tube tester at the corner drug store.     
Terms changeBack then, capacitors tended to be called condensers, a term that largely fell out of use in the 1960-1970 time frame.
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Sales Pitch: 1928
... Shipp, the client for whom this photo was made, was Atwater Kent's public relations guru. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. ... 
Posted by Dave - 07/23/2012 - 10:54am -

Washington, D.C., circa 1928. "T.R. Shipp -- Star Radio." Shipp, the client for whom this photo was made, was Atwater Kent's public relations guru. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
SpenceIt looks like he's pitching the radio to a young Spencer Tracy!
Tracy would have been 28 at that time.
Safe And SoundThe console radio on his right looks more like a safe.
Re straighten up!Well, then here. All better. Sadly the screws now are severely catty-wumpus.
In the Anal Retentive Department, I was wandering around a notoriously AR friend's house one day and noticed that all the screws in the electrical wall plates had their slot aligned perfectly straight up and down. 
straighten up!Being anal retentive has a lot of drawbacks, like you notice things that others don't give a hoot about, let alone notice, like the off-level grill fabric on the radio. It is skewed about 5 degrees clockwise.
A question and an observationQ: What kind of mechanism is that behind the glass on the right (behind the plant)?
O: There apparently wasn't a shoeshine stand close by.
Two OCD Roomies Might Not Work Your friend who had all the screw slots perfectly vertical would drive me nuts.  Everyone know they're supposed to be perfectly level, parallel to the floor. 
Re Two OCD RoomiesHe said they collect too much dust if they're horizontal. Did I mention he was AR? I didn't ask but he probably thought the vertical lines helped make the room look taller. Did I mention he was AR? 
PresentationThe curtained display looks as though it could also serve as a Punch and Judy stage.
Lamp shadeI wonder what the lamp shade was advertising?
Peering Past the Potted PalmDoes some fountain of knowledge (such as tterrace or Dave) have any insight as to what the chain and pulley mechanism visible through the glass behind the potted palm is?
Re: Lamp ShadeThe shade was an advert for Pooley Radio Cabinet Company.
Radio HistoryThere is an interesting Radio and TV museum at Camp Evans in Wall Township, New Jersey, known as Marconi was there in 1912 and all major radar development was done at Camp Evans. Since it closed the buildings and grounds are now being made into various museums, such as computer, ship wreck, military vehicle, military communications, etc. It is a National Historic Site and usually open on Sunday afternoon's.  
I've got one!I am in the process of restoring a 1929 Atwater Kent model 46.  Very similar - but the speaker grill design is slightly different.  Its amazing to hear music come out of these old radios.  Actually, I don't like to play "modern" music through it - just doesn't seem right.  I try to limit it to the big band shows when they are available.
(Technology, The Gallery, Natl Photo)

Tune In Tomorrow: 1925
... Philadelphia, 1925. Stamping loudspeaker bells at the Atwater Kent radio factory. View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass ... 
Posted by Dave - 07/30/2012 - 10:06pm -

Philadelphia, 1925. Stamping loudspeaker bells at the Atwater Kent radio factory. View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.
Radio BeanieLove the hat. Technology hasn't changed much from the presses then to the presses now.  Now we just try to idiot proof them.
[Except now wouldn't they be hydraulic, not belt-driven? Nameplate on this one says Henderson Machine Company. - Dave]
Stamping PressMany of these old presses are still in daily use.  I just left a plant that still had many old Versons similar to this brake press.  Although none of our equipment was line shaft driven like this was.  Some of our presses were so large that the building was originally constructed around them.  And our building went up in 1930.
As far as making these "idiot proof," many of our old timers were missing fingers or thumbs.  You don't have to be an idiot to do something careless just once.  If you stand in front of a press all day feeding blanks into a die, it gets very easy to let your mind drift off to other places and get careless.  All it takes is one careless mistake to leave a digit behind in a die.
Years ago, these plants often weren't heated in the winter and even providing a fan for summer cooling was usually too much of a luxury.
I want a grommet beanie.A lot. That is all.

No Ear Protection!It's ironic that he's making devices to allow others to hear more, while in the process he's insuring that he will eventually hear less!
Drive belt safetyIf a person with poor loitering skills paused beneath one of those wheels when it threw a belt . . . 
How's that again?I worked in a noisy factory through much of the seventies and eighties, and even then there was little attention paid to hearing protection. Many of the older guys told me "Don't be a wimp, you'll get used to the noise soon enough".
Most of these guys were deaf as posts.
I don't think it was management attitude in the old days, just lack of knowledge about long term hearing damage.
PressesThough there are hydraulic forming presses, they are mostly too slow for high speed production work.  Most of the presses I have had the acquaintance of were crankshaft types which are very fast, and quick to mash a finger.  I have a two ton press of the crank variety and a local business that repairs punch presses mostly works on the crankshaft types. Some of the crankshafts are several inches in diameter and the presses so huge that they must be partly disassembled for transport on the highway.
On most modern presses I have seen, there are two push buttons to actuate the press.  The buttons are placed far enough apart that you have to use both hands to push them at exactly the same time. In the "good old days" many presses used a foot treadle for actuation which was very dangerous for fingers.  In case two buttons are  not enough for proper safety, there are restraining straps that pull the operator's hands back out of danger as the press closes. I doubt that Atwater Kent worried very much about the occasional mashed finger.  Then there are those open flat belts that drove the machines from an overhead lineshaft without a belt guard in sight.
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Between Two Ferns: 1926
... successful mystery writers have maids? The Radio An Atwater-Kent Model 30 (or thereabouts). Great title, Dave. Even though he's ... 
Posted by Dave - 03/06/2017 - 4:34pm -

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Home of Mary Roberts Rinehart," prolific writer of mysteries. A room last glimpsed here. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.
ElectronicsWhat is the device sitting on the wicker table?  I'm guessing it's some kind of radio.
[It is. -tterrace]
Again with the filthy floorsI can understand, maybe, filthy floors in banks and factories in the early part of the 20th century that I see in Shorpy photos, but in the private homes of the well-to-do? Didn't even successful mystery writers have maids?
The RadioAn Atwater-Kent Model 30 (or thereabouts).
Great title, Dave.Even though he's sitting stage right, the pooch's name just has to be Zach.  The parrot could have any of 30-plus names.
But does it work?Right on with the identification of the Atwater Kent model 30 however, since this model is a battery operated set, where are all the wires leading to and fro? Usually the batteries would be located below and close to the receiver. We had the room with the lower shelf to do the job, but no batteries.
Atwater Kent, in it's advertising campaigns, would use the houses of famous people of the era to advertise their radios and place their product in an ideal room just to give you an idea of how well it would look in your abode. (bird not included)
By the way, notice the radio horn just to the left of the radio. That's a Model L design.
Don't look at me!The parrot made the mess on the floor. I'm innocent!!
What is The round device behind the radio, a dish antenna?
[A loudspeaker. - Dave]
She earned itMary Roberts Rinehart was a deservedly successful mystery writer. And her work has held up over the years and her books are still worth reading.
Hidden batteries?There's a coiled wire hanging behind the table that seems to lead into the grilled space under the window sill. Given that there are doors several places on this lower wall, it could well be that the batteries are hidden behind the grill work.
Atwater-Kent promo photoThis is an A-K promotional photo, the receiving set and speaker horn are not connected for operation. Notice that the radio and horn are the only new and clean items in the entire room! A-K staged their radio sets in the formal rooms of famous persons' homes to demonstrate that they were designed more like furniture than appliances. They never could conceal the messy batteries, wires and antenna connections, so these were simply omitted from the promo. 
Cosmopolitan MagazineThat appears to be the June 1925 issue on the shelf below the radio.
(The Gallery, D.C., Dogs, Natl Photo)

Radio Room: 1925
... view of workers putting radios together at the vast Atwater Kent factory in Philadelphia. View full size. National Photo Company ... 
Posted by Dave - 07/23/2012 - 10:51am -

1925. "Condenser assembling department." Another view of workers putting radios together at the vast Atwater Kent factory in Philadelphia. View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative, Library of Congress.
Erector set buildersAll those little nuts and bolts and plates to put together! Now the radio-tuning task is done with a semiconductor diode. The new factories are full of billion-dollar machines and the workers just keep them fed. 
Could They Fill That Shop Today?I really wish the US had all that manufacturing going on today. I do wonder if we could fill those jobs though or whether the employers would have to look for illegal immigrants. Once thing is for sure, we're a soft and spoiled bunch compared to those folks.
Ship Shape ShopYou'd think this type of work would make people out of shape, but other than the lady in the foreground, not a single person in the picture can pinch an inch of fat. They are all perfectly slender. But then again, none of these people had Big Macs for lunch and dinner at Appleby's.
Economics 101"I really wish the US had all that manufacturing going on today"
You're right--imagine how our economy would look if when you walked into a Best Buy or Circuit City all those products were made in this country--all the wealth being kept here.
[If all those products were made here, there wouldn't be a Best Buy or Circuit City. - Dave]
(Technology, The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Model 47: 1928
Philadelphia circa 1928. "Atwater Kent Factory for T.R. Shipp." Assembling the Atwater Kent Model 47, back when radios were the iPad of their day. National ... 
Posted by Dave - 08/21/2012 - 7:52pm -

Philadelphia circa 1928. "Atwater Kent Factory for T.R. Shipp." Assembling the Atwater Kent Model 47, back when radios were the iPad of their day. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
The AK 47Is it an Assault Radio?
The finished product
Powerful radio!By the look of the head gasket, it's a 4 cylinder model.
I still call it the wirelessAlways makes the young people roll their eyes.  
I workedin this building in the early 90s when it was the home of the US Dept of Veterans Affairs Regional Office and Insurance Center. By then the interior of the original sawtooth roof had been coverd by a dropped ceiling, but it was accessible. It still had the original wooden floors, covered in most places with carpeting but visible in the aisles between offices and cubicles.
The VAROIC demolished the builing in the late 90s. The building's footprint is now occupied by the parking lot for the replacement building. On a prominent corner of the property a large section of the sawtooth roof truss is mounted on columns as if it were a sculpture-like artwork. The site is bounded by US 1, Wissahickon Ave., and a regional passenger rail line.
(Technology, The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Metropolis: 1925
Circa 1925, another scene from the Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia. National Photo Company Collection glass ... 
Posted by Dave - 08/05/2012 - 10:57am -

Circa 1925, another scene from the Atwater Kent radio factory in Philadelphia. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.
Safety first, watch those fingers.No guard covers on the motor belts.
Electrolytic!I always wondered how they made all those capacitors.
Shades of the Triangle Shirtwaist CompanyLooking for the fire exit ... Hmm ... Maybe it's behind the guys in suits?
CapacitatedLooks to me as though they're making capacitors - strips of metal foil separated by an insulating strip - all wound into a cylinder. Used for filtering they allow AC current to pass, but prevent the passage of DC current.
BrazilThis is the first of these shots to remind me of Terry Gilliam's movie "Brazil." Just needs to be a little less well lit, but the machines are as imposing.
Who needs Fire Exits?There IS a fire extinguisher in the room.
(The Gallery, Factories, Natl Photo, Philadelphia)

Street Life: 1925
... was good for shortwave. I used to love tuning the old Atwater Kent to BBC London or the English broadcasts out of Cairo or Istanbul, even the ... 
Posted by Dave - 08/29/2012 - 8:45pm -

"Rowhouses and moving company." Circa 1925, the furniture and hauling business of Sam Madeoy at 600 H Street N.E. National Photo Company. View full size.
Not a dry eye in the houseEast Lynne!  "Gone! And never called me mother!"

The Other Side
Just Hangin' AroundThat looks like a good place to sit and yap, hide from the wife, wait for the taverns to open, etc. You can almost hear what those rickety, wobbly cellar doors would sound like as he sat down on the edge of one. And that little fence falling apart looks like something the Little Rascals should be climbing through to go steal some apples.
Car stopI presume "car stop" is a trolley car stop? You can see the rails in the street. 
1925 IndeedAll the visible posters announce shows for either Dec 13th or 14th, 1925.

William Ebs, ventriloquist opened at the Strand on Dec 13th.
 The burlesque Moonlight Maids starring Anna Toebe and Billy Hagen, opened at the Mutual, Dec 13th .
 East Lynne, an "old triangle theme- full of melodrama, heart interest, cross love, murder and what not" began playing the 14th.
Thurston, "magician extraordinaire" made live horses vanish at the Belasco, Dec 14th.

I'm not sure how long typical posters would have remained up in the 1920s, but since all advertise for such a narrow date range its seems safe to say that they were probably replaced often and therefore this photo is mid-December 1925
Samuel Madeoy was a Russian immigrant born circa 1880.  According to the 1920 census, he lived at 600 H street with his wife Rose, three daughters and a son.  In Dec 24th he remarried.  In March 1925 he purchased (and moved?) properties at 12 and 14 E street Southeast.
This corner is a few blocks from where I live - its now a parking lot for a grocery store.
[Sam seems to have been a colorful character -- had a few brushes with the law running numbers and selling booze. And made the news when he spontaneously combusted one day.  - Dave]
Trolley reduxI'm not sure exactly when the street car was discontinued, but ironically they are trying to get a line reestablished on H Street.  Hopefully it will be faster than the X2 Metrobus, which you can usually beat walking...
Up on the roof Someone on the second floor was a radio buff, that antenna was good for shortwave. I used to love tuning the old Atwater Kent to BBC London or the English broadcasts out of Cairo or Istanbul, even the foreign language broadcasts were exotic enough to keep my brother and I listening as late as allowed. Then it was crystal radios under the blankets, tuning in to WWV, the Grand Old Opry and the Foggy Mountain Boys, yes, all the way up in Upstate NY, 1955. 
(The Gallery, D.C., Natl Photo, Stores & Markets)
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