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
Everyone in the engineering department was given the opportunity to take home one or more of our radios for personal evaluation, especially when going on vacation. This provided valuable inputs on performance in different geographical areas. Of course, this gave the individual the opportunity to purchase the set after the evaluation as a "used" set through the Employee Sales Salvage department. As you can imagine, there was always a waiting list of people wanting to take a Transoceanic home for evaluation.
If you recall, the Transoceanic had a rotary drum for a dial. A rotary switch at one end of the cabinet rotated the dial drum. For a while, each new band required only the addition of one more detent in the bandswitch and the addition of another band on the dial drum. The last Transoceanic to use the 3-gang TRF tuning approach was the Royal D7000.
The last major redesign of the Transoceanic took place in the 70's. Instead of the old TRF front end (RF, mixer and oscillator simultaneously tuned), the Transoceanic R-7000 receiver utilized a double conversion front end, as in the ham radio of the day. Larry Peterson, followed by Larry Latta, spearheaded this change.
The name Larry Latta brought to mind some anxieties that I suffered during my years at Zenith. I hired Larry in the mid 70's. He was small, wirey young man, whose hobby was not only ham radio, but racing midget boats. Not being a boat expert, I can only describe the "boat" as surf board with a souped-up outboard motor, which ran on alcohol. I believe Larry said that the speeds were such that the boats often became airborne. In such cases, according to Larry, you bailed out and pulled your knees under your chin. Your body then skipped across the water like a rock thrown to skip across the surface of a pond. When your forward momentum slowed down, your body would gradually sink into the water. This prevented breakage of bones if you were to directly impact the water! Unlike most of the other engineers who took vacation days a week at a time, Larry would take off Fridays and Mondays. He and his wife would load their trailer with boats, engines and spare parts and head for weekend competitions. As Larry was the lead engineer in the design of the last Transoceanic, I spent many a weekend praying that he would walk into the lab on Tuesday mornings.
I left Zenith in May of 1977, I did not see the final version of the Transoceanic go into production. My decision to leave Zenith was based on the fact that outside of the Transoceanic, all transistor radio products (portable, table and tape cassettes) had gone overseas for manufacturing. I was tired of traveling overseas for 6 weeks at a time, and I saw the handwriting on the wall as Sony and Panasonic continued to get larger market shares from Zenith. Also, it was time to look at another field of electronics, as linear design engineers (RF, IF, and audio) were being replaced by integrated circuits. No need to design an RF, If or audio amplifier; use an IC, hook up a battery and speaker and you have it!