Some Information on the Edison Company's two year run in the Radio Business


The Edison Company purchased the Splitdorf Radio Company on January 14, 1929, and Charles Edison was elected president.  This was a way to get a leg up on the design of their first radio line and secure RCA and Hazeltine patent licenses. The patents were needed in order to legally manufacture and sell competitive radios at that time. The first line of Edison neutrodyne radios was introduced around March 1929.  The name of the Phonograph Division was changed to the Radio-Phonograph Division in May 1929, with the national introduction of the line at the 1929 RMA Radio Show and Convention.  The model numbers of the in the initial products were: R-1, R-2, C-2 and C-1.

At about this time the Edison company was losing substantial amounts of money on phonograph and record manufacture and sale, saw little chance of improvement and decided to close all its phonograph related manufacturing and sale activities.  That was done on Oct. 29 1929, in order to stop the losses and concentrate on radio manufacture and sale. 

The design for a complex, modern, screen-grid radio was being finalized for introduction at the Sixth Annual Convention and Trade Show of the Radio Manufacturers' Association in Atlantic City, N. J. on June 2, 1930, during the first half of 1930 (I think Theodore Edison led the design, but I'm not sure).  The first model numbers were R-6 and R-7 (different cabinets, same chassis).

Minutes of two series of weekly meetings at the Edison Company in the first half of 1930 are linked in the table below.  The first is called "Radio Committee Meeting Minutes" and contains discussion of various design and production issues as they came up. The second is called "Meeting for Discussion of 1930 Radio Design".  Design and performance issues are discussed, along with progress in completing the first 50 sample radios.

The GREAT DEPRESSION took a terrific toll on most industry. Unfortunately, the Edison radio effort was badly hurt.  They started late, just before savage price cutting swept the industry.  The Splitdorf Radio Company ceased operations on Dec. 31, 1930 (see Stockholder Report for 1930) and Edison exited the home radio field.

The table below contains some interesting documents that throw some light on the radio activities and business environment at the Edison Company during the "radio days".

Document Number
Document Name
Letter announcing discontinuance of commercial record production, Oct. 29, 1929
New York Post Article, Nov. 7, 1929
Splitdorf-Bethlehem Electrical Company Stockholder Report for 1929  (260 kB)
Splitdorf-Bethlehem Electrical Company Stockholder Report for 1930  (102 kB)
Radio Committee Meeting Minutes, Jan. 24, 1930 - July 28, 1930  (1.5 MB)
Meeting for Discussion of 1930 Radio Design, Jan. 21, 1930 - July 15, 1930  (1.5 MB)
Edison Radio Guarantee Application Card
Edison Radio Service Manual for R-1, R-2, C-2, C-1  (3.1 MB)
Special Radio Service Bulletins for R-1, R-2, C-2, C-1  (2.1 MB)
Edison Radio dial drive cord tension and dial scale service notes for screen-grid radios R5 and R7  (210kB)
Instruction Book for Edison Radios R-6 and R-7  (840 kB)
Service Manual for Edison Radios R-6 and R-7  (970 kB)
Edison Radio Service bulletin SG-1 for R-6, R-7  (320 kB)
Selectivity curves of Screen-Grid radio #22, Apr. 4, 1930  (250 kB)
Edison Radio Program for May 27, 1929
Edison ad in The Talking Machine and Radio Weekly, Feb. 19, 1930  (210 kB)
17
Edison's four page color ad in 'The Talking Machine and Radio Weekly' of May 28,1930, featuring the new R-6 and R-7 radios and showing the R-4, R-5 and C-4 models at the RMA Convention; also two accompanying B/W ads: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6  Each page: (about 75 kB)

Published: 10/04/2006;  Revised: 04/09/07
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