One of the most amazing developments in my lifetime has been the technology to shrink things. When I was in college, I worked for a neuroscientist whose computer took up an entire room which had to be air conditioned to keep it running. Televisions took up considerable space in the room, not because they had a large screen, but because the picture tube was so big. Telephones were weighty enough that when my sister in a fit of pique threw one against the wall, it made a sizeable hole. Cars, as I have shown, were big enough to allow me to sleep in the back seat. But the first object to really capture my delight was the transistor radio.
Until then, to listen to the radio I needed a large radio and an electric outlet. This meant listening to the radio in my room if I wanted to hear music I liked. But the invention of the transistor changed things entirely. I could put it in the basket of my bicycle when I went to visit a friend. I could take it outside to lie in the sun “working on my tan.” I could smuggle it into my sleeping bag and take it to camp. A friend and I could sit on the porch and listen to a song together.They were not inexpensive, and I did not have one until the sixth grade when I was 12. I guarded it with my life since my three younger siblings were eager to use it.
Before writing this post, I read about the history of the lovely device. One entry said that the transistor was poised to take off by a combination of large numbers of Baby Boomer kids, disposable income(not in my house!) and of course rock and roll. I had to babysit to earn the money to buy mine, but I certainly was a Baby Boomer who could now happily listen to rock and roll without someone yelling to “turn that stuff off!”