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.