This Museum's popular entertainment collections hold some of the Smithsonian's most beloved artifacts. The ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz reside here, along with the Muppet character Kermit the Frog, and props from popular television series such as M*A*S*H and All in the Family. But as in many of the Museum's collections, the best-known objects are a small part of the story.
The collection also encompasses many other artifacts of 19th- and 20th-century commercial theater, film, radio, and TV—some 50,000 sound recordings dating back to 1903; posters, publicity stills, and programs from films and performances; puppets; numerous items from World's Fairs from 1851 to 1992; and audiovisual materials on Groucho Marx, to name only a few.
"Popular Entertainment - Overview" showing 1 items.
- During World War Two scientists and engineers at Bell Laboratories conducted research on many radar and radio devices. One goal was to find a replacement for fragile and energy-wasting vacuum tubes. Building on war-time research, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, working with group leader William Shockley, developed a device they called a transistor. The first laboratory demonstration took place on 23 December 1947. Bell publicly announced the new invention on 30 June 1948.
- At first the US military bought all the transistors Bell Labs could make, and the company agreed to license other manufacturers. As engineers learned how to use the new invention, plans were made for commercial products that could take advantage of the transistor's small size, energy efficiency, and rugged design. In 1953 hearing aids became the first commercial product to use transistors.
- A small, portable radio seemed a good opportunity, and a company called Idea Incorporated designed and produced the Regency. Planning began in 1951 between Idea and Texas Instruments, supplier of the transistors. Work began in earnest in the spring of 1954, and this first Regency transistor radio was in stores for the Christmas season later that year. The Regency model TR-1 contained four transistors. Capable of receiving AM stations, the radio cost about $50 (that would be almost $400 today.)
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- Idea Incorporated
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- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center