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History of the manufacturer  

Philco, Philadelphia Stg. Batt. Co.; USA

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Name: Philco, Philadelphia Stg. Batt. Co.; USA    (USA)  
Lincoln-Philco || Packard-Philco || Philco-Ford Corp.
Abbreviation: philco
Products: Model types Tube manufacturer

Philco; Radio & Television Corp. (or just Philco Corporation); Philadelphia 34, Tioga and C. Streets: - Trade names Baby Grand, Lazy X, Lincoln-Philco, Packard-Philco, Philco, Transitone.
Export to Switzerland: Vertretung Schweiz: Seyffer AG; Zürich (Vertr. Bern, Fribourg, Lausanne = Electro-Service SA, P. Guinand) In [373146 und 3332458] präsentiert sich die Firma Neuport AG, Zürich, als Generalvertreter.

Philco sold its first TV set, which had about a seven-inch screen, for $349.50, in 1948. The next year, it sold 800,000 sets. By then, it had begun selling refrigerators and air conditioners. In 1954, it bought the Bendix and Crosley companies to boost its refrigerator business and get into washers and dryers. But by 1960, Philco's earnings had fallen to $2.3 million from $335 million 10 years earlier. In December 1961, the Ford Motor Co. bought Philco, eventually turning it into a wholly owned subsidiary known as the Philco Ford Corp

For a few years in the 1930s, Philco operated a branch in France. Exports in 1937 were handled by the American Steel Export Company, 347 Madison Avenue, New York. In the 1960s, Philco TVs were sold in France as "made in France".

The company made a standard range of radio panel/dial lamps.

Founded: 1906
Production: 1928 -
Philco Suffix-Letters (Cabinet styles):
B - Baby Grand (cathedral or tombstone)
C - Compact (table model)
D - Console with doors
F - Console, no legs
H - Highboy
J - Console, no legs
K - Console, no legs - we don't know the difference to J
L - Lowboy
LZ - Lazyboy (chairside)
LZX - Lazyboy, separate speaker with Inclined Sounding Board (1933)
MB - Moderne Baby Grand (Model 60MB only)
P - Portable (Model 80P only)
PF - Radio-Phonograph
PX - Radio-Phonograph with Inclined Sounding Board
RX - Chairside, separate speaker with Inclined Sounding Board (1933-37)
RX - Console with Mystery Control (1939-42)
S - Model 66S Tombstone
T - Table model
X - Console with Inclined Sounding Board
XF - Console, inclined control panel, vertical sounding board (1938-40)
XX - Console, inclined control panel, Inclined Sounding Board (1938-40)

Philco used "run numbers" for minor changes and Codes for major chassis changes. Code 121 should never be marked because it is the first version, followed by 122.
In spring of 1892, Thomas Spencer organized a small company in Philadelphia for the purpose of procucing carbon arc lamps and associated equipmnent. Initially, the new firm was called the Spencer Company, but on October 11, 1892, the company changed its name to Helios Electric Company. Although Helios eventually failed, in 1906 it became part of the newly organized Philadelphia Storage Battery Company, which manufactured batteries for electric cars and trucks. The "Philco" trademark was introduced in 1919, and the company added batteries for radios to its product line shortly thereafter. In 1925, Philco introduced a highly successful line of AC-powered A-B battery eliminators, called "Socket Power" units, which used electrolytic rectifiers.

With the introduction of AC compatible tubes and AC powered radios in 1927, battery eliminators became obsolete and Philco's general manager James M. Skinner moved the company into manufacturing complete radio sets, starting in 1928.

Radio sales in the USA for 1928 totaled 3,281,000 sets (1927 = 1,350,000) with a retail value of $ 400,000,000 and an average unit price of $ 122.

Sales at Philco grew rapidly, and by 1930, Philco achieved the number one position in radio sales in the U.S. The year 1930 also marked the introduction of Philco's first "cathedral" design - the model 20, which was an instant sales hit and the first of a long series of very popular Philco cathedrals. Although the Great Depression hurt many of Philco's competitors, Philco thrived in the 1930s, holding the number one sales position each year. The 1930s saw Philco introduce "Lazy X" chairside radios with remote speakers (the 14LZX in 1931), and one of the first "high fidelity" radios (the 200X in 1934). In 1935, "Acoustic Clarifiers" (passive radiators, which are basically auxilliary speakers without drivers) were introduced in some high end models, and in 1936, automatic "Magnetic" tuning was introduced. In 1938, Philco introduced a wireless battery powered remote control unit called the "Mystery Control" for model 39-116.
Philco offered wireless record players starting in 1938, and in 1940 introduced a novel "Beam of Light" phonograph pickup on several console models with built-in phonograph. The "Beam of Light" pickup, which promised lighter tracking force and reduced record wear, used a mirror coupled to a jewel stylus, which modulated a light beam directed at a photocell. After WWII, Philco introduced a novel "record in slot" style of radio-phonograph, among which is the model 46-1201.

Philco began work on all-electronic TV in 1931, with TV pioneer Philo T. Farnsworth joining the company that year. Philco operated a TV station starting in 1932. However, in the years right after WWII, Philco fell behind RCA in TV and never caught up. In 1958, seeking to boost TV sales through innovative cabinet design, Philco introduced the "Predicta" line of TVs (highly collectable today), which featured swiveling (and in some cases, detachable) picture tubes on top of futuristic cabinets. In 1959, Philco introduced the first fully transistorized portable TV - the "Safari" - which used a two inch picture tube and a built-in magnifier.

Philco was active at times in a variety of other businesses, including refrigerators and household appliances (starting in the late 1930s) and transistorized computers, claiming to produce the world's fastest all-transistor computer, the Transac S-2000, in 1958.

In part due to technical failures (short CRT life) in the Predicta line of TVs, Philco's business was in trouble by the early 1960s. Ford Motor Company purchased Philco in 1961, later selling it to GTE Sylvania in 1974, which was acquired by North American Philips in 1981.

Main sources:
(1) Alan Douglas, "Radio Manufacturers of the 1920's," Vol. 2, The Vestal Press Ltd., New York, 1989.

(2) Ron Ramirez, "Philco Radio 1928-1942," Shiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen, PA, 1993.

(3) Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA.

Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
USA  31/32 Komb. 290 35  80 [373146] Ch=90 
USA  33/34 16RX (16, 16A) [Early] 77  The model 16 series were high-end multiband radios. The early chassis used in 1933-34 h... 
USA  34/35 60B [Version 3] 6A7  The Philco model 60 series included nine versions over four years, all using similar 5-tub... 
USA  33 261 6A7  Export model 
USA  46 46-806 Tropic Radio 14J7E  This model uses a ballast resistor. The plastic cabinet has a walnut finish. 
USA  48 49-602 [battery-line operated] 1R5  Colors:Maroon,Ivory,Tan or Green; Selenium Rectifier CR100. 
USA  49 49-500 Transitone 7A8  Color: Walnut.  AM: 540-1620KC  
USA  31/32 112A Highboy [Early] 24  Models 112 and 112A were high end superheterodyne radios for the 1931-32 model year and... 
USA  31 211 Radio-Phonograph 24  Model 211 uses the chassis of model 111 (50-60 Hz). Models 211 and 211A are radio-phonogra... 
USA  31/32 Komb. 312   [373146-1208] Ch=112 
USA  31/32 m.Pl.-Wechsler 312   [373146-1208] Ch=112 
USA  31 50 Baby Grand [Common] 24  Model 50 was Philco's lowest price radio in late 1931, probably the last TRF model offered... 


Further details for this manufacturer by the members (rmfiorg):

Scanned from the Radio Retailing January 1942.tbn_philco_prom1_jan42.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing January 1942.tbn_philco_prom2_jan42.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing January 1942.tbn_philco_prom3_jan42.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing January 1942.tbn_philco_prom4_jan42.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing April 1941.tbn_philco_prom_rr_apr41_p7.jpg
Firmen-Logo: Philco - 1929tbn_usa_philco_1929_firmenlogo.jpg
philco tubetbn_philco_banner.jpg
Philco service yearbooktbn_philco.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing July 1941.tbn_philco_prom_rr_jul41.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing August 1941.tbn_philco_prom_rr_aug41.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing September 1941.tbn_philco_prom_rr_sep41_p19.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing October 1941 page 27.tbn_philco_prom_rr_oct41_p27.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing November 1941 page 33.tbn_philco_prom_rr_nov41_p33.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing April 1946 page 45.tbn_philco_prom_rr_apr46_p45.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing May 1946 page 59.tbn_philco_prom_rr_may46_p59.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing June 1946 page 49.tbn_philco_prom_june46_p49.jpg
Werbung aus 1958tbn_philco_ad_1958.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR-742, for 1940.tbn_philco_folder_pr742_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR-742, for 1940.tbn_philco_folder_pr742_p2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR-739 for 1940.tbn_philco_folderpr_739.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR-738, 1938-1940.tbn_philco_folderpr_738_p1_half1.jpg
Advertise 1968tbn_usa_philco_ad_1968.jpg
Philco Advertise 1959tbn_usa_philco_ad_1959.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder No. PR 798 for 1941.tbn_philco_folderpr398_1941_p2_part2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder No. PR 798 for 1941.tbn_philco_folderpr398_1941_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder No. PR 798 for 1941.tbn_philco_folderpr398_1941_p2_part1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder for 1949.tbn_philco_folder_1949_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder for 1949.tbn_philco_folder_1949_p2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder for 1949.tbn_philco_folder_1949_p2_part2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR-430 for 1937.tbn_philco_folder_pr430_1937_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR-430 for 1937.tbn_philco_folder_pr430_1937_p2.jpg
This is the Philco Radio Manufacturing Plant located in Sandusky Ohio, which produced the Chrysler Mopar 914HR all-transistor car radios, starting in the fall of 1955 for the "New" Chrysler and Imperial 1956 car models.tbn_philco_radio_manufacture_plant_sandusky_ohio.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder No. PR-340 for 1937.tbn_philco_folder_pr430_1937_p3.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder No. PR-340 for 1937.tbn_philco_folder_pr430_1937_p4.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR-799-A for 1941.tbn_philco_1941_pr_799a_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR-799-A for 1941.tbn_philco_1941_pr_799a_p2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder AD-1793 for 1959.tbn_philco_folder_ad_1793_1959_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder AD-1793 for 1959.tbn_philco_folder_ad_1793_1959_p2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder AD-1792 for 1959.tbn_philco_folder_ad_1792_for1959_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder AD-1792 for 1959.tbn_philco_folder_ad_1792_for1959_p1_rotate.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder AD-1792 for 1959.tbn_philco_folder_ad_1792_for1959_p2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder 180-3436 for 1952.tbn_philco_folder_1952_p2_part1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder 180-3436 for 1952.tbn_philco_folder_1952_p2_part2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder 2674.tbn_philco_folder_2674_1931_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder 2674.tbn_philco_folder_2674_p2_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder 2674.tbn_philco_folder_2674_p2_p4.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder for 1948.tbn_philco_folder_for_1948_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR671 for 1939.tbn_philco_folder_for_1939_pr671_p1jpg.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder PR671 for 1939.tbn_philco_folder_for_1939_pr671_p2jpg.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder for 1950.tbn_philco_folder_for_1950_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder for 1950.tbn_philco_folder_for_1950_p2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder Form. 2952.tbn_philco_folder_2952_p1_p1_gross.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder Form. 2952.tbn_philco_folder_2952_p1_part2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder Form. 2952.tbn_philco_folder_2952_p2_part1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder Form. 2952.tbn_philco_folder_2952_p2_part2.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder for 1933/34.tbn_philco_folder_1933_34_p1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder Form. 2120 for 1929.tbn_philco_folder_1929_form2120_p1_part1.jpg
Scanned from the Philco Folder Form. 2120 for 1929.tbn_philco_folder_1929_form2120_p1_part2.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing January 1939 page 8.tbn_rr_january1939_ad_philco_p8.jpg
QD15STX manual with associated modelstbn_philco_qd15stx_1.jpg
Worthpoint phototbn_philco_outdoor_aerial_boxc._1945.jpg
RECONSTRUCTED GUARANTEE LABEL USED ON VARIOUS SETS.tbn_us_philco_various_models_guarantee_label_brown_label_1.jpg
RECONSTRUCTED GUARANTEE LABEL USED ON VARIOUS SETS.tbn_us_philco_various_models_guarantee_label_yellow_label_2.jpg
UL LABEL USED ON VARIOUS MODELS WITH THE GUARANTEE/SAFETY LABELtbn_us_ul_various_models_red_yellow_label.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models_10524p.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models_10524r.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models_10618b.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models_10621.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models_10623.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models_10626.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models_10629.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models_10651.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models_10690.jpg
Reconstructed Inspection Label for Printing. Used on various sets from 1946-1948.tbn_usa_philco_inspection_label_various_models10629b.jpg

Forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand
Philco, Philadelphia Stg. Batt. Co.; USA
Threads: 3 | Posts: 6
Hits: 4368     Replies: 0
RMorg Model Number and Date System for Philco
Thomas Albrecht
Recently there has been some renewed activity to make our database for Philco more complete.  Many new schematics have been uploaded, new models added, and missing information provided for existing models.  Our goal is to make the database as complete as possible for Philco models, since Philco was one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of radios, and Philco radios are widely collected -- both in the U.S. and internationally.
There are, however, some challenges with respect to dates and model numbers for Philco.  After discussion with Konrad Birkner and Ernst Erb, a decision has been made to adopt the following guidelines for Philco models:
1.  Dates:  Philco used a "model year" designation not unlike that used for automobiles.  In the June of a given year, Philco would introduce, ship, and sell the following year's models.  For example, in June of 1938, Philco started selling its "1939" models.  Furthermore, starting with the model year 1937, Philco included the model year in the model number.  For example, model 37-610 was part of Philco's 1937 "model year," which means that it was actually introduced in June 1936.  This practice of including the model year in the model number continued until the mid 1950s, when the numerical year was replaced with a single letter indicating the model year.
Although it would be particularly tempting to simply use the "model year" as the model date in RMorg, we have instead adopted a more historically accurate practice of showing a beginning date which is the actual year of introduction (the "model year" minus one year) and an end date which is the same as the "model year."  Most models were produced under a single model number for only about one year, so this approach correctly spans the actual time period a model was produced and sold.  In cases where we know a model was produced for a longer time period, the second date should be the actual final year of production.
As an example, under our system, model 37-610 would be shown as a 1936/37 model.  When entering or making changes, "1936" is entered in the first year box, and "1937" in the second.  Although most models currently listed for Philco do not yet show this system (most simply show the model year), an effort is now underway to update this for all Philco models.
2.  Model numbers Philco used model numbers that are often followed by a suffix of one or more letters to indicate cabinet style (and sometimes color).  In RMorg, we list radios with significantly different cabinet styles as separate models, even if the chassis inside is identical.  Therefore it is important to include the letter(s) of the suffix to distinguish different models in RMorg.
An unfortunate issue is that Philco often omits the suffix in its service literature.  Likewise, on the radio itself, the suffix might not be shown at all, or was added with a rubber stamp next to the tag or plate on which the model number is shown.  As a result, it is very common to find Philco radios with apparently identical model numbers (without suffix), but very different cabinets!
As a concrete example, consider Philco model 37-630T and 37-630X.  On the inside of the cabinet for these radios, you will commonly find a paper label with "37-630" shown as the model number, and possibly with a "T" or an "F" rubber stamped on the cabinet nearby.  It is easy not to notice the letter, and it is often missing altogether.
Understandably, a collector, having read the paper tag, is usually convinced that his model is simply "37-630" and will look for this model in RMorg.  In fact he has either the table model (-T suffix) or console (-X suffix).
Although one can come up with a variety of systems to address the situation, for RMorg, we have adopted the following approach:
a.)  If there are multiple cabinet styles for a given numerical model number, we will have a separate RMorg model for each one, with the model number suffix properly included.  In parentheses, the model number without suffix will also be included as an alternate.  The model number without suffix will not be shown as a separate standalone model.
As an example, we will list the following two models:
37-630T (37-630)
37-630X (37-630)
But we will not list a third model without suffix:
The above approach accomplishes two goals:  (i) the number of models listed accurately reflects the actual number of physically distinct models produced by Philco, and (ii) a search on the model number without the suffix will correctly bring up both candidate models which apply, with visual confirmation of the model number without suffix as it might appear on the radio.
b.)  In cases where there is only one cabinet style for a model number, the following applies:
  • If Philco does not show a suffix on the radio or anywhere in its service literature, no suffix is shown in RMorg.  This covers the vast majority of cases for which there is only one cabinet style for a model number.  An example is model 42-788 for which only one model, without suffix, is shown.
  • If Philco shows a suffix on the radio (even if rarely) and somewhere in its service literature (even if most references don't include the suffix), the model number with suffix is shown, and the model number without suffix is shown as an alternate. An example is model 39-8T, which is listed as just one model with model number 39-8T (39-8).
Correct field for model number:
The Philco model number should be placed in the first field, which is called "model name."  The second field ("model type") should usually be left blank.
Philco chassis codes:
Philco often includes a chassis code on its radios and in its service literature.  Code 121 is the most common, which simply refers to normal production or "first run."  Higher number codes like 122, 123, and 124 often refer to later runs with slight changes in component values or circuit design.  In other cases, higher number codes are used for chassis that are slightly modified for a different cabinet style (such as a change in speaker).
Chassis codes (especially code 121) do not normally need to be included in the RMorg model number or chassis number.  If the code has significance that should be documented, a comment in the "Notes" field is generally best.
Thank you for your attention to the above.  If we all make an effort to follow this system, we can have a highly consistent, complete, and accurate database for Philco models in RMorg.
Hits: 5157     Replies: 3
Status report updating and completing Philco models
Gidi Verheijen

Enst Erb asked me to report about the status of updating and completing the Philco models in the radiomuseum database.

Like most USA brands, Philco needed a lot of updating and completing. Since August 2005 I have been working on this job. Reasons that I started with it are the fact that I like USA radios in general and Philco in particular (it was my first radio) and that I wanted to contribute to the Radiomuseum.
I got a lot of encouragement and help from Konrad Birkner and we agreed to present all Philco models according to the same policy with regard to model name and number, reflecting the specific way Philco named and coded its radios and chassis. Two other members (and maybe others as well) contributed to the Philco brand in recent times: Vitor Oliveira and Juan Antonio Pardo Alonsos.
I have access to the following literature sources:
Rider's Perpetual Manuals (on CD-ROM and DVD)
Rider's Index (copy)
Ron Ramirez' book: Philco Radio 1928-1942
Philco Year Books 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946/1947 (purchased at Ebay).
With all this literature the schematics of most Phico radios are at hand.

What has been done in the last 9 months ?
First most Philco models, not showing a year of origin, were dated. Thereafter I worked on those models where a year was mentioned, but wrong or inaccurate. In December 2005 Bernd Kieck dated all remaining models, based on the year they appeared for the first time in Rider's Manual. The result is that most Philco models show the right (or at least a pretty accurate) year of origin now. Some further updating is still necessary and will be done, as far as reliable information is available.
Together with the updating of the year of origin, the technical data were updated where and when possible.
A lot of models already show the name and number designation according to the adopted policy, but further work has to be done in this respect. This updating is mostly done when a model is being updated for other reasons.
Based on the Philco Year Books 1940 and 1942, I could update the models from these years to a very high degree of completeness. Now I am in the process of updating the year 1941 and once that is finished I hope to work on the years 1946/1947.

If I would have Year Books of other years available, I could improve the database even further. Offers for those books would be welcomed very much.

Gidi Verheijen

Thomas Bavis
  2 You may find the '30s-50s Philco Service information on my web page of interest. You will need the DjVu browser plug-in from to view or print them.
Gidi Verheijen
  3 Dear Thomas,

This Philco Service Information is a great help. Thanks for your kind reply.

Ernst Erb
  4 Interesting: If you type the term Philco models into Google-Search this article comes first of 500 thousand - but if you type the term Philco Radio or Philco Radios we are lost completely.

Philco Radios are quite well known and nice collecting items. therefore it is vital for us to list each Philco radio with its details if possible. Who can help us in this respect? If you can, please write to Gidi Verheijen.

Thank you, Thomas Bavis, that you offer some data to be looked up in your database for Philco Radios.

Hans Amberger is doing a wonderful job for Zenith in looking for pictures. If you like to do something similar for Philco Radios, please write to him. He can show you how he manages to get a lot of approvals to use pictures from eBay sellers or homepages. Please also don't forget to write a courtesy line if you use pictures from other source and that you have the approval.

Have you a Philco radio which is not yet in our data base or has no photo? Please change this. It is easy if you first click the blue info button.
Hits: 4543     Replies: 0
unknown model of PHILCO
Nikolai Koutcher
  1 Dear collegues!
I have the wood cabinet of radio with record player marked PHILCO Tropic. I ask you to help me to identify this model of radio. The necessary picture is implied.
Best regards,
Philco, Philadelphia Stg. Batt. Co.; USA
End of forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand


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