A Brief History
of Zenith Royal Transoceanic Royal 1000
A Speech by Ray Andrejasich
Before a 1996 Quarterly Meeting of the Indiana Historical Radio Society
In approximately 1955, the Commander asked for an all-transistor version of the Transoceanic. The Commander had just recently purchased a German made Leica camera. It was a beautiful camera, with a black leather and brushed chrome body. He suggested that these elements be considered as cabinet materials for the new Royal 1000.
By late summer of 1957, the first Royal 1000 transistorized Transoceanic radios were in production and the Commander started giving the sets away to friends, dignitaries and heads of state. I remember working through the holiday season, unpacking production pallets of the Transoceanics, checking factory alignment on all the bands and realigning when necessary. In some cases, I swapped transistors to give sensitivities in the mid to high range of the performance specifications. The machine shop engraved presentation plates that would mount on the radio. Many of the radios were sent to Hollywood executives.
In 1958, Zenith gave me a 2 year leave of absence to fulfill my military obligation, after which, I returned in May of 1960. As I recall, the original Royal 1000 had an AM and 7 SW bands. It was a heavy monster with metal chassis all hand-wired. The cabinet consisted of chrome-plated, die cast parts, with leatherette inserts to give a beautiful chrome/black contrast.
|This model was followed by many iterations, along with a line of lower cost multi-band receivers that I would call Oceanic "babies." One of these receivers is the Royal 94 FM/AM multi-band radio. It exhibits the typical chrome die-castings and the black leatherette trim like the Transoceanic. The sort wave bands offer continuous coverage from 1.6 to 18 MHZ. The graphics on the rear of the set say "Zenith Inter-Oceanic Multi-band"||
As the upper frequency limits of the transistor went higher and higher, additional bands were made possible on the Transoceanics Remember, the early transistors were good only for audio amplifiers, which resulted in many hybrid radio console models, using a tube front-end and a solid-state (germanium) audio amplifier. The germanium devices posed many design problems (which will be discussed later) until the stable silicon transistors were introduced.
Let's go back now to the type of people involved in the design of the Tranoceanic and related sets. When I joined Zenith in 1957, I was among the few degreed engineers that were starting to join the company. The majority of the people in the transistor group were men who worked their way up the ranks of the production department and because of their knowledge, were invited to work in the engineering department. Most of them were ham radio operators and held ham licenses. Ham radio was the source of their knowledge. At the time, there was no real source of information on transistor design, except from the transistor manufacturers. The manufacturers would give application notes on IF, RF, and audio design. The individual engineers would take this information and use it in their design work. I recall in college, I had only ONE transistor course, the rest of the courses still centered around the vacuum tube. In essence, my transistor knowledge came after graduation from osmosis by working with the knowledgeable old-timers at Zenith.