National Carbon Co. "Eveready" Radio Receiver With Speaker

Radios, like this Eveready model 2, provided many families of the 1920s with a new form of home entertainment. Amateurs began making home radios to transmit and receive messages early in the 1900s. But using these radios called for engineering skills and a license. Early receivers, called "crystal detectors," while relatively easy to make, required some technical skill and were low in power.
In 1916, David Sarnoff proposed that American Marconi Company sell broadcast transmitting equipment and "radio music boxes" that could receive the broadcast signals. After World War I, Sarnoff and his idea became part of the new Radio Corporation of America (RCA). A 1920 prototype radio designed by Alfred Goldsmith featured a few simple controls and needed no technical training to operate. RCA and other companies established AM (Amplitude Modulation) stations and began selling receivers. Stereo broadcasts were unknown, so radios needed only one speaker.
Listeners were entranced by this new medium that delivered both local news and nationwide "network" programming. Since radios could operate on batteries, reception spread beyond cities. Unelectrified rural areas began tuning in, making farm life seem less isolated. Families began to gather around their radios in the evenings to hear music, sports, comedy, drama—and the commercials that paid for "free" programming. The voices of political leaders and entertainment celebrities reached millions of Americans.
Elaborately styled cabinets, usually of wood, disguised technical components and allowed the radio to blend more easily with other home furnishings. This Eveready model is unusual. The cabinet is metal instead of wood, and can accept optional legs that permit the radio to be converted to a floor-standing model. Radio quickly became popular with Americans, so much so that statistics indicate only two electrical items sold well throughout the Great Depression: light bulbs and radios.
Currently not on view
Object Name
radio receiver
Date made
early developer of radio receivers
Goldsmith, Alfred
National Carbon Company
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
glass (overall material)
overall: 23 cm x 57.8 cm x 28 cm; 9 1/16 in x 22 3/4 in x 11 in
Place Made
United States
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Domestic Furnishings
Popular Entertainment
Family & Social Life
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Charles Arndt
Related Publication
Lawrence W. Lichty and Malachi C. Topping. American Broadcasting
similar type referenced
Lewis M. Hull. US Patent 1,672,811
Additional Media

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