Reviewed by Brian Battles, WS1O, Features Editor, QST
Magazine, journal of the American Radio Relay league. This
review first appeared in the June 1995 issue of QST and
is reprinted here with permission.
Is there anyone over 25 who's never seen or heard one?
Throughout the 1940s to the '80s, it would have been almost impossible
to spend time around shortwave listeners (SWLs) or radio hobbyists
without coming in contact with a Zenith Trans-Oceanic receiver.
Thousands sit on shelves, tabletops and patios today, still spewing
the music and gab of domestic AM and FM stations, and ringing
with the exotic babel of foreign shortwave broadcasts. Hams
and SWLs consider many radios "classics," but few hold
the special renown of the "Trans-O."
Descended from the early-1920's Companion, the line evolved into 1942's Trans-Ocean[ic] Clipper, and successive models thrived for more than 40 years, finally reaching senescence in the era of the space shuttle. Zenith's world-band receiver enjoyed a singularly remarkable and well-deserved reputation for performance, affordability, reliability, portability and elegantly functional styling.
Brilliant color plates, crisp black-and-white photographs and reproductions of original ads brings "The Royalty of Radios" to life and the small typeface serves to assure the reader that this is no mere picture book to be mindlessly leafed and then tossed on a coffee table. The dozen chapters are divided into three sections: History and Design describes the radio's origins, a discussion of specifications, features and technical information, and looks at Trans-Oceanics used in scientific expeditions and the military. Pictured with their Zenith radios are actress Myrna Loy, a young Frank Sinatra and Arctic explorer Commander Donald MacMillan. There's a 1960 photo of Mt. Everest conquerer Sir Edmund Hillary and Marlin Perkins of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom TV show twiddling the knobs on the Royal 1000 model they took to the Himalayas. The Trans-Oceanic Line looks at their evolution through the years and features terrific photographs and ads, and a roundup of accessories. Collection and Restoration includes instructions on physical and electronic restoration of the tube-type and solid-state models. Appendices list the Trans-Oceanic Restorer's Tools and Materials, Resources (suppliers) and a Price Guide (read it before you hit the flea market).
John and Harold share a love affair with these radios. They spent 2-1/2 years researching and writing to bring this volume to fruition, and their effort pays off. Even with Zenith's help, it's hard to imagine the legwork and time it took to track down the historical information, technical data and hundreds of photos and other art packed into this hefty paperback. Any serious radio listening hobbyist or equipment aficionado will want a copy of this for their library.
(160 pages; Atglen, PA, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1995; ISBN 0-88740-708-0; available from http://www.schifferbooks.com/ and other on-line booksellers)