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
-page 7-

UNIQUE RADIOS CONTINUED

4. The "Owl" radio—a necklace of pendant radio that looked like an owl on the end of a necklace. The necklace contained the wire leads to an earphone and it used hearing aid batteries. It was targeted at $14.95 and had already gone into production when Sales had a horrible thought! Zenith was a leader at that time in miniature, transistorized hearing aides, that sold for hundreds of dollars. To introduce the Owl radio at $14.95 would cause many people to question why hearing aids were so expensive! A last minute decision was made to divert the Owl production to the TV group, where the Owl radio was given away as a promotional item with the sale of a TV set.

5. The "Sunglass" radio—using hearing aid technology, a complete AM radio was constructed in the temple bars of a pair of sunglasses. It never went into production for the same reasons that led to the derailing of the Owl radio.

At this point, I must acknowledge that the Japanese were very instrumental in developing electronic components that led to the next generation of miniaturization of portable radios. There was Mitsumi that came out with the Polyvaricon tuning capacitor, that replaced our old air gangs. A thin polyethylene sheet replaced the normal air dielectric previously used in tuning capacitor. They produced early tracking problems, but that was eventually overcome.

Toko, another Japanese company, developed the quarter-inch I.F. and oscillator coils. They were originally 1/2 square, the 3/8 inch square, then 1/4 inch square. That was about as small as they got. The American made I.F. transformers in the Transoceanic, in comparison, were 3/4 inch and 3/8 inch square.

Also, the Japanese devised a method of depositing a thin layer of copper on molded plastic cabinets, allowing them to be chrome plated. This took a lot of weight and cost out of the earlier chrome plated, die-cast cabinet parts. Sony used this technology for one of their early, popular AM/FM radios.

As the Royal 1000 became a stable, high-end product, the support staff diminished. Roy Snelling went to Pete Weiler's tube table radio group, to start transistorizing the table radios. Walt Miller took to overseeing incremental changes to the Transoceanic. Such things as a single-side-band (SSB) detector and the NOAA Radio Weather station band. Also, Walt worked on the Inter-Oceanic multi-band portables.

I must not forget another gentleman who made contributions to the Transoceanic development, as well as Zenith products in general. His name was Dan Jablonski. Dan was responsible for testing our products under all kinds of conditions, as well as against our competition. We watched the Consumer Reports performance comparisons very closely. However, it was Dan, in a large travel trailer, that drove all over northern Illinois testing our radios under strong signal conditions and under fringe area situations. Dan would check such parameter as sensitivity, selectivity, adjacent channel attenuation, and R.F. overload. Sometimes he would park adjacent to one of the Chicago AM transmitting towers and se how well the Transoceanic would handle very large signals, without going into overload and distortion. Also, it was a good method of seeing if harmonics would bleed through and appear in the short wave bands. He would write up very detailed reports on his performance evaluation, which got distributed to the engineering departments, as well as upper management. As many of the management people were "ham" operators, if not graduate engineers, they would usually write their comments on the report and send it down to engineering to "get on the stick" and make any needed circuit changes.