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Widget Of The Week

Internet Radio S-11 1974

No it is not a typo. This vintage Internet radio dates from the mid 1970s, which is around ten years before the word entered common parlance, and almost 20 years before streamed net radio services on the world-wide web began in earnest. No doubt you have already figured out that it’s not a remarkably ahead of its time Internet radio, just a common or garden dual band (medium and long wave) pocket tranny, marketed under the Internet brand name. Okay, so it’s not any sort of technological milestone, but it’s definitely a talking point, and an interesting collectible, if only for the fact that there’s not many of them around.

 

The radio was made in Hong Kong but the Internet name seems to have originated much closer to home, judging by the warranty card that came with it. This gives details of an English company, called Internet Radio Limited, located at 100 – 102 Beckenham Road, in Beckenham Kent (now adjoining carpet and convenience stores). Virtually nothing else is known of the company though I am trying to track down some adverts, which apparently appeared in Practical Wireless magazine in the early 1970s, and I’ll update the page if and when anything of interest turns up.

 

Apart from the name and the yellow – and I mean bright yellow – case there is not much to distinguish it from other small transistor radios of the time, though the layout is slightly unusual as it’s a landscape, rather than portrait – as it were – orientation, and the dual band tuner was fairly uncommon on cheapie radios like this (it sold for less than £5.00). Inside we find a familiar 6-transistor superhetrodyne circuit, with a longer than usual ferrite antenna (for the LW coverage) and it is powered by the ubiquitous 9 volt PP3 battery. The audio output is fed to a more or less standard issue 55mm (2.25 inch) 8-ohm speaker and there’s a 2.5mm jack on the side for a personal magnetic earpiece, which was included with the radio. There are only three controls, two thumbwheels on the side for on/off volume and tuning (with a rotary tuning scale showing through a window on the front), and a slide switch on the rear for waveband selection. It also comes with a wrist lanyard, finished in the same vivid yellow.  

 

Back to the inside, it’s all discrete components and the PCB looks as though it was hand assembled. There’s the usual film and blobs of wax on and covering the IF coil slugs, audio transformers and windings on the ferrite antenna. It’s never a pretty sight, and sometimes it degrades into a sticky mess, depending how it has been stored over the years, but not in this case; it’s as clean as a whistle. Whilst the seemingly crude manufacturing techniques of Hong Kong radios makers in the 60s and 70s contrast with today’s clinically clean, neat and tidy circuit boards, it never fails to impress me when a 40 or 50 year old radio like this still works when you hook it up to a battery. Even when they don’t, they are often quite simple to work on and can often be fixed fairly easily, which is more than you can say about most modern gadgets. There were no surprises with the performance, sound quality is thin and tinny, and the tuning is touchy but it’s certainly no worse than most of its contemporaries. Sadly there’s not a lot to listen to on the LW band anymore, and Medium wave isn’t much better but for all that listening to a 70’s oldie through the hiss and crackle is a real nostalgia trip, though not something you necessarily want to wallow in for more than a few minutes at a time…

 

What Happened To It

Until I can find out more about Internet Radio Ltd I cannot say for certain when the S-11 first went on sale, or eventually disappeared but it probably wasn’t around for more than two or three years. It wasn’t the only radio bearing that name, though, and I have found references to a J70 and details of Models 10 and S-100 on the excellent Radiomuseum website. Pocket portables if this ilk never really went away and continue to this day, though over the years they have become rather more sophisticated, with the addition of VHF/FM coverage, more advanced tuning systems and greater use of integrated circuits.

 

This one came to me via an ebay seller in Hungary; I was the only bidder and with shipping it set me back around £20. I wouldn’t normally consider spending that much on what is after all a fairly ordinary 70s pocket radio but this one was in full working order, super clean inside and out and in fantastic overall condition; it actually looks like it has just come out of the box. I have only seen a couple of them on ebay and they were both in pretty rough condition but sold for significantly more than what I paid for this one, so I can’t be the only one who thinks the name, at least, has some curiosity value.


GIZMO GUIDE

First seen          1974

Original Price   £4.80

Value Today     £20 0914

Features           2 band (MW/LW) radio, 6 transistor superhetrodyne, 50mm speaker, ferrite antenna, 2.5mm earphone socket, earphone supplied, wrist lanyard

Power req.                    9v PP3 battery

Dimensions:                  111 x 73 x 35mm

Weight:                         202g

Made (assembled) in:    Hong Kong

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):  7


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