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
The following models reflect the Transoceanic transistor radioas it responded to needs as new bands, etc. came on the scene:
|Royal 1000||8 bands AM/SW||SW 7 bands|
|Royal 1000-D||9 bands LW/AM/SW||SW 7 bands|
|Royal 3000||9 bands LW/AM/FM/SW||SW 6 bands|
|Royal 7000||11 bands LW/AM/FM/SW||SW 7 bands VHF (xtal, fixed)|
|Royal 7000-1||11 bands LW/AM/FM/SW||SW 7 bands VHF (xtal, select|
|Royal 7000Y||11 bands LW/AM/FM/SW||SW 7 bands VHF (tunable)|
|R-7000||12 bands LW/AM/FM/SW||SW 6 bands CB/ VHF LO/VHF HI|
Zenith has always maintained very high quality standards for all of its products. It was very hesitant to go to printed circuit boards because the early boards got a very bad name, not because of the circuit board itself, but because of what I would call misapplication. Other manufacturers has started to use printed circuit or "PC" boards on their tube-type radio to reduce the labor overhead. This proved costly to the manufacturers in the long run, as the heat generated in the tube sets would cause the PC boards to warp and in many cases, the copper traces would peel off the board, or break, causing the radio to fail.
Zenith declined the use of PC boards until very late in the game. Their very first all-transistor black & white portable TV, with battery pack, the Model 1290L, had a metal hand-wired chassis with sockets for all the transistors. It was introduced in 1966, 30 years ago. To show its durability and ruggedness, Zenith put a very interesting ad on television. Many of you may recall seeing it.
A TV camera pans the Royal 1290L as it is attached to a parachute, turned on, and thrown out of an airplane. Another camera on the ground follows the decent of the 1290L to the ground and sow the set on impact. As the camera zooms in on the set, an announcer picks it up to show that it is still working! Considering the weight of the 12 inch TV (over 20 pounds without the battery pack), the "G" forces on impact were pretty high. I am sure PC boards might crack and fail under such an impact. I don't recall any competitor ever arguing the point.
I noticed the similarity of the ad with the old Timex TV commercials, where the watch would be strapped to a water ski and then a skier would make a few passes and then ride upon the beach, where John Cameron Swazey would be waiting to remove watch to show that it was still working. I'm not sure if Zenith or Timex started this type of commercial.
My 20 years at Zenith were a great engineering experience; and I enjoyed working with my fellow engineers. During those growth years, before the offshore competition became a challenge, engineers had time for more bonding. At lunch, we would throw darts, to see who would buy the afternoon coffee. Remember those battery operated power supplies? They allowed us to put flash bulbs behind the power supply panel, with alligator clips, right across the 12 volt output. When the engineer turned on his supply in the morning, sometimes his cup of coffee ended on the floor. Ted Godawski devised the ultimate weapon, a zebra fire cracker with a strand of steel wool wound on the wick, which would be clipped across the 12 volt power supply panel. A great wake-up call in the morning!!
I hope this talk has given you some insight into the development of early Zenith products. It was fun putting it all together, and opened up the floodgates to many wonderful memories. Thank you very much for your attention.