Car radio history

Helping you to choose your car entertainment system

The designer stereos you can get in today’s cars—be they glamourous sedans or affordable sporty coupes—have eight decades of innovation behind them. Here’s a glance at the landmark progressions in car radios that changed into today’s iPod hookups and satellite radio

1930: First Commercial In-Car Radio

The Galvin brothers’ pricey $130 unit (a Model A Deluxe coupe cost $540) was the initial  commercially successful car radio, and the number one product to bear the Motorola name.

1952: First Radio With FM

AM was the undisputed head of the airwaves in 1952, but that didn’t prevent Blaupunkt from bringing in the first in-car FM radio.


1953: Becker Mexico Introduced

Becker’s iconic Mexico radio arrived in this year, possibly the first premium in-car radio. It had AM/FM and the very first fully automatic station-search dial.


1955: First “Music On Demand”

Starting in 1955, Chrysler provided a small turntable in its high-quality cars, playing proprietary seven-inch records with almost 50 minutes of music.


1963: First All-Transistor Radio

A number of manufacturers brought in transistors to their aftermarket car radios in the early 1960s, but Becker’s Monte Carlo was the first to be completely “solid state”—no vacuum tubes.


1965: First Eight-Track Tape Player

Before the cassette, the eight-track was a problem from the start and was dead by the ’80s. Ford and Motorola jointly brought in in-car eight-track players this year.



You spend a lot of your life in your car. It enables you to commute to work, do errands and go on long road trips. Your vehicle is more than a device that gets you from one place to the next. It's like another home. It's vital to be safe, comfy, entertained and engaged. While a factory-made car radio offers some entertainment features, it normally lacks the audio quality, easy hands-free calling features and smartphone features of after-market car systems. The best stereos offer high-quality audio with several playback options while keeping a hands-free connection to your phone.

Extra features

While car speakers, subwoofers and amplifiers all have a purpose, the best car audio experiences begin with the car stereo unit. Factory-installed stereos are usually cheap, with not many features and subpar audio quality. The finest car stereos mix high-fidelity audio with easy playback options and smartphone integration. The Sony MEX-GS810BH, Kenwood eXcelon KDC-X998 and Pioneer DEH-X9600BHS are basic examples of the finest car audio systems available. To learn more, read our articles on car audio receivers.

Whether you like jazz, rock, pop, indie or metal, you want the quality of sound to be the best it can to make those commutes that much more bearable.


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