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History of the manufacturer  

Astor (brand), Radio Corporation Pty., Ltd.; Melbourne

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Name: Astor (brand), Radio Corporation Pty., Ltd.; Melbourne    (AUS)  
alternative name:
Radio Corp.of Australia
Abbreviation: astor
Products: Model types
Summary:

Astor, brand name of Radio Corporation Pty, Ltd.

Radio Corporation Pty, Ltd. (Astor) was formed on the 10/12/1929 by Louis Henry Abrahams & Arthur George Warner of Louis Coen Wireless. In 1939 Abrahams & Warner formed Electronic Industries Limited as a holding company with Radio Corporation Pty, Ltd functioning as a active subsidary. In 1970 Philips Australia took over Electronic Industries Limited including its subsidaries.  The Astor brand, with the exception of the record division (1981) continued until 1974.

Founded: 1929
Closed: 1975
Production: 1927 - 1975
History:

The genesis of Radio Corporation Pty, Ltd date back to 1923 when a partnership was formed by Louis Henry Abrahams & Arthur George Warner. This partnership going under the name of Louis Coen Wireless was selling radio parts in the basement of Abrahams tobacconist & barber shop at 63 Swanston St, Melbourne.

The success of sellin radio parts quickly out grew the small basement & in early 1925 they moved their wholesale business to larger premises just around the corner at 260 Flinders Lane.  For a brief period around 1925/26 Louis Coen Wireless had a factory at 573 Flinders Lane where they manufactured their Pinnacle radio sets.

In 1927 the first Astor sets were manufactured for Louis Coen Wireless under contract by Radio Corporation of Australia.

In 1928 Abrahams & Warner acquired the Australian rights to the Hazeltine patents & formed a company Neutrodyne Pty, Ltd., enabling them to control and monitor the Hazeltine patents in Australia. Having the rights to the Hazeltine patents gave Abrahams & Warner a competitive edge in the early days of Australian radio manufacturing.

In late 1929 after a complex series of company takeovers, reconstructions & mergers dating back to 1926 Abrahams & Warner took over Radio Corporation of Australia. Abrahams & Warner became joint first directors. They changed the name to Radio Corporation Pty, Ltd so as not to confuse it with the American RCA.

The newly formed Radio Corporation Pty, Ltd acquired factory space at 12 Villiers St, North Melbourne, next door to the Radio Corporation of Australia factory at number 14 Villiers St. With this extra space Radio Corporation Pty, Ltd began to manufacture Astor radio sets in earnest.

They quickly became a major player in the Australian domestic radio industry with its Astor brand. The factory space at Villiers St, North Melbourne quickly became inadequate & in 1931 a massive new purpose built radio factory was built at Sturt St, South Melbourne.

During 1933, Astor produced the first of its “Mickey Mouse” series of radios, and in 1936 introduced its first Bakelite Mickey Mouse radio with a cartoon of the famous rodent on the dial. Early brochures featured a picture of Walt Disney and the mouse giving their "seal of approval". However this was not done with permission from the Walt Disney Company and Astor became involved in a long-running court battle with Disney over the illegal use of the Mickey Mouse name. The result was that Astor was forbidden to use the name "Mickey Mouse" for its radios, but it continued to produce the “Astor Mickey" radio for the next 16 years!

In 1939 Abrahams & Warner formed Electronic Industries Limited as a holding company with Radio Corporation Pty, Ltd functioning as a active subsidary.

Just prior to the formation of E.I.L. Abrahams & Warner took over Eclipse Radio Pty Ltd, Essanay & A.Z. Radio.  Eclipse Radio along with National Corporation Radio of South Australia remained independent subsidaries of E.I.L.

By 1940 the Sturt St factory proved inadequate & a new factory was built just around the corner in Grant St. This new factory quickly became part of the war effort producing equipment for the armed forces.

Astor became a major manufacturer of early monochrome television sets in Australia, commencing production in 1956. Astor established their music recording division and distribution network, which was launched around 1960. In the early 1960's Pye Electronics bought a minority non controlling interest in Electronic Industries Limited. 

In 1970 Philips Australia took over Electronic Industries Limited including its subsidaries. Radio Corporation Pty, Ltd. remained a subsidary of Philip Holdings Limited and continued to market Astor branded consumer goods until 1975. By the 1970's some Astor products were rebaged Philips . The Astor record label continued until 1981.

This manufacturer was suggested by Konrad Birkner † 12.08.2014.


Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
AUS  37 560DW [AC/DC version.] 6D6   
AUS  59–62 Playgram JML 2N362  Portable battery powered 4-speed mono record player with Collaro deck. Case colour comb... 
AUS  72–74 Multi Waveband Portable PF041   Supplied with carrying case & earphone. 
AUS  72/73 Family Portable PF040   Can be used with special AC adaptor. Woodgrain look finish.   
AUS  73–75 CS804   Car radio with stereo 8-track cartridge player. 
AUS  32 Armchair Control Radio E452T  The armchair control radio advertised for £33/10/- in 1932. The radio is con... 
AUS  72/73 Digital Alarm Clock MF028   AC powered bedside radio with a flip-down, alarm clock movement.(50Hz) Finished in... 
AUS  61 Viscount Royal 23 BTR 6FC7  23 inch B&W television receiver with a 14 position, 10 channel tuner. Vynex covered... 
AUS  71/72 KF023   AC/Battery cassette tape recorder. Battery type used: 4 x "C" cells. 
AUS  71/72 KF022   AC/Battery cassette tape recorder. Battery type used; 4 x "C" cells. 
AUS  53 Tablegram HNM (NM chassis) 6AE8  Broadcast only tablegram with BSR 3-speed record changer. Rola type 6 H loudspeaker. ... 
AUS  71/72 KF021   AC/Battery radio with cassette tape recorder. Battery type used: 4 x "D" cells.   

[rmxhdet-en]

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

Advertisement from "The Argus" (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Monday 28 October 1929, page 9tbn_aus_astor_lous_coen_ad_argus_28_oct_1929.jpg
Astot TV advertisment 1960.tbn_aus_astor_tv_ad.jpg
As advertised in "west Australian Wireless News" June 1, 1934tbn_aus_astor_advert_1934.jpg
Advertisement from "The Argus" (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Monday 26 March 1928, page 12.tbn_aus_astor_5_ad_1928.jpg
Advertisment from a specal issue of the Radio & Electrical Retailer, May 2, 1946, Australian Telecommunications at War.tbn_aus_astor_ad_1946.jpg
Astor receivers at the 1934 Perth Radio Show on display at the Radio Corporation Pty. Ltd. stand. (Photo © State Library of Western Australia)tbn_aus_astor_1934_radio_show_perth.jpg
Advertisement from the "News" (SA), September 17, 1930tbn_aus_astor_ad_1930.jpg
Mickey Mouse Trademark dispute details.tbn_aus_astor_mickey_mouse_court_case.jpg
Advertisement from Queensland Times (Qld), August 27, 1938 Page 11.tbn_aus_astor_ad1938.jpg
Electrical & Radio Exhibition 1934 : souvenir edition,Sydney, February 28th - March 10th. Page 91.tbn_aus_astor_oz_1934_ad.jpg
Seven Astor models advertised in May 1935 From the Mercury, May 25, 1935, page 7.tbn_aus_astor_ad_the_mercury_may_25_1935_pg7.jpg
tbn_astor.jpg
Wireless Weekly 12th August 1927tbn_astor_radio_ww_12827.png

Forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand
Astor (brand), Radio Corporation Pty., Ltd.; Melbourne
Threads: 2 | Posts: 5
Hits: 479     Replies: 0
The Story behind Astor.
Gary Cowans
21.Aug.18
  1

The Cairns Post  (QLD) advertised The Story Behind Astor over fourteen issues from 7 June till 25 June 1935 for Pittard Dick & Co Pty. Ltd., a radio dealer in Cairns.

The text is reproduced below:

The Story behind Astor.

CHAPTER I. - The Story behind Astor.

Behind Astor Radio lies the most amazing romance of modern commercial enterprise.

In 1923, before the establishment of National Broadcasting the embryo radio industry came into being in a small factory, tucked away in an obscure corner of the City, the manufacture of fixed condensers was commenced by two enterprising young men under the name of "Clark and Hagblom”. Their operations were later extended to include the production of other necessary components, such as audio transformers, and rheostats. Larger premises and bigger plant became necessary to cope with the phenomenal development of this new industry. By an amalgamation of the three largest radio parts manufacturers in Victoria, the Radio Corporation of Australia Pty. Ltd. was formed in 1926.

Shortly afterwards this new organisation commenced to manufacture the first Astor receivers under contract to Messrs. Louis Coen Wireless. The transformation of wireless from the hobby of experimenters to a primary family entertainment, involved additional extension of activities. Connections were formed overseas with leading international manufacturers and laboratories.

Finally, a further reconstruction, effected under the name of Radio Corporation Pty. Ltd., purchased the entire Louis Coen Wireless wholesale interests.

This powerful corporation with enormous capital invested and employing the most up-to-date merchandising methods has won nationwide recognition for Astor. Big advertising, an army of travellers, aeroplanes, etc., were employed to ensure that specialisation in production essential to modern advancement.  It has been laid down on the policy of the Radio Corporation, that the entire laboratory and engineering resources shall be devoted only to the production of radio receivers for broadcast entertainments.

CHAPTER II - THE WORKS BEHIND THE ASTOR

Approaching the new works, which occupy the whole of one side of Nolan-street, from Sturt Street, through to Dodds Street, South Melbourne, you are impressed with the massive proportions and enormous coverage of the Radio Corporation Factory.

Over two acres under one expanse of roof The Research Laboratories, Testing Division, Parts Production and Assembly Plant, together with the administrative and merchandising departments, are organised into the largest works in Australia, devoted exclusively to the production of radio receivers.

Entering the Works through the swing door of the administrative department, you step into the pulsating centre of an industry that amazes with the multiplicity of its activities.

CHAPTER III. - ASTOR MODELS IN THE PLANNING.

Here you see the Astor research laboratories where the best brains of Australian research engineering, in collaboration with the Hezeltine Laboratories of U.S.A., are working day and night, developing new inventions.  Experimenting.  Adapting the world's latest patents to suit Australian conditions. Carrying out continuous research in order that the new Astor models shall maintain Astor's undisputed Instruments worth over £5000 are to be found in these laboratories. Many of these instruments are unprocurable in Australia, for the Astor research laboratories are equipped with the most complete electro radio scientific apparatus.

CHAPTER IV. - -THE MARVELS OF THE ENGINEERING SHOP.

A battery of huge presses, such as in the Astor Engineering Shop, is not usually associated with the production of delicate radio apparatus. These presses are used to stamp out the steel chassis, metal cabinets, etc., of Astor Receivers.

Here, also, is the line of automatic lathes, employed in producing perfect precision parts in large quantities. The small metal components required in Astor sets. Into these up-to-date machines, rods of brass or iron are fed, to emerge as finished products; nuts, screws, or parts as required.

Since the protection tariff came into operation in 1930, it has been possible to manufacture every part in Australia. Even the sheets and rods of metal are purchased from Australian mines, and are fabricated in the Astor works.

.CHAPTER V - EVERY PART PRODUCED IN ASTOR FACTORY

Every part of every Astor receiver is manufactured in its entirety at the Astor Works - from the minutest screw to the largest power transformer.

In this department is to be found the transformer winding and impregnating plant. Machines, specially designed to wind 14 transformers together, are busily engaged in turning out the transformers, which are the heart of every Astor Radio.

The interesting process of vacuum impregnation is also carried out here. By this process all moisture is scientifically removed from the coils, which ensures the extraordinary long life characteristic of Astor receivers.

CHAPTER VI. - SIX MAIN ASSEMBLY LINES.

In the main assembly hall, the central store functions as a hub, around which the whole factory organisation revolves.

 In front of this store are six main assembly lines, each one devoted to a separate phase of production.

No. 1 line assembles dynamic loud speakers. No. 2 line, electric gramophone motors. No. 3 line assembles variable condensers. Line No. 4, resistances, coils, etc. Line No. 5, transformers and transformer coils, including lamination and impregnating of coils. The last and most important line, No. 6 assembles the complete chassis.

At the end of each line is the general inspection department, which examines, inspects and tests every article which has been manufactured. If the part does not form a finished product, it is sent back to the store, from which it is later issued to the next assembly line.

The work of wiring the receiver is carried out on a moving belt assembly line. At the end of this line the chassis arrives completely assembled and wired, and is passed into the testing department.

CHAPTER VII. -  40% PRODUCTION TIME DEVOTED TO TESTS.

An important factor of Astor dependability lies in the rigid tests to which each part is subjected at every stage of its manufacture, before; it is finally assembled on the pressed steel chassis.

The completely assembled and wired chassis is then subjected to a continuous 20% overload test over a number of hours. This rigorous test ensures that the receiver will definitely stand up to any overload which might occur in the user's home owing to line fluctuation.

The receiver chassis is again tested both before being placed in the cabinet and afterwards as a complete radio. Each Astor is definitely measured on instruments for volume, sensitivity, and selectivity.  Tone is tested in the final sound-proof test rooms before the receiver is packed for release.

CHAPTER VIII. --DESIGNED BY THE WORLD'S FOREMOST LABORATORIES.

The new Astor Superheterodynes are the only receivers on the Australian market designed and licensed by the Hazeltine Laboratories. It is of interest to note that 80% of superheterodynes produced in USA., including names as Majestic, Crossley and Philco are built to the design and licensed under patents, of these world famous laboratories.

The new Astor models are specially designed to exploit the unique advantages of the new high efficiency 5-element triple grid valves. They introduce greater range, unbelievable selectivity, and immense power, with a simplicity of operation not previously associated with superheterodynes.

CHAPTER IX.-  SUPERIORITY OF ASTOR WORKMANSHIP

Beneath the chassis of the Astor is found the secret of that continuous good service for which the Astor is designed.

The units in the chassis are as delicately attuned to each other as those in a fine watch. Each connection between them is wired and soldered so carefully and perfectly that a lifetime of uninterrupted efficiency is assured.

The valve sockets guaranteed positive contact with side-wiping double springs.

All wire resistors are protected with vitreous enamel, while Astor construction embodies automatic compensation for fluctuating and excessive current supply.

CHAPTER X. - TUNING COILS AND CONDENSERS BUILT WITH ABSOLUTE PRECISION.

Signals transmitted by the broadcasting stations are so weak the human ear cannot detect them. It is only the delicate radio receiving apparatus, adjusted to synchronise with the incoming impulses, that

enables these signals to be recorded.

Mathematical accuracy is therefore essential in tuning apparatus. See how precisely the Astor tuning coils are wound. How the rigid die-cast construction of the tuning condensers ensures maintenance of that great accuracy (to within half of one per cent.) to which each condenser is tested.

Built so that nothing interferes with their exact operation, these delicate contrivances function tirelessly and accurately. Picking up and separating the radio impulses, so that only the signals of the

station desired are passed on to the reproducing units of the receiver.

CHAPTER XI - THE HEART OF THE POWER UNIT.

Here is the power transformer. The unit that transforms the power from your electric light supply. On this unit, coupled with the filter condensers, depends the steady flow of current necessary to give that full, undistorted volume for which the Astor is justly renowned.

See how the coil is layer wound from highest quality American enamelled wire. The thousands of fine strands are carefully layer insulated. Once the coil is wound it is subjected  to numerous laboratory tests for continuity, correct proportions, shorted turns, and insulation break down. The coil is then preheated, thoroughly dried to eliminate all moisture, and finally impregnated to seal the entire coil against atmospheric effects. The lamination of the iron core inside the coil is then carried out.

When completed the transformer is subjected to tests for leakage, and correct output voltages.

Finally, it is aged on overload for two hours to eliminate any possibility of transformer breakdown when operating in the set.

CHAPTER 12. - DYNAMIC SPEAKER SPECIALLY DESIGNED.

The loud speaker is responsible for the reproduction into audible sound of the radio impulses picked up by your receiver.

Recognising its importance, Astor Engineers insist that sensitivity should not be  sacrificed by employing the cheaper standard speaker design, which leaves out the sides of the pot enclosing the field coil.

Complete sensitivity can only be obtained by a completely enclosed pot. In the Jensen the heavy round metal pot completely covers the large field coil, preventing leakage of field energy.

Solid pressed steel frame ensures freedom from mechanical distortion. 3-point spider support  maintains accurate centering of the voice coil. Input transformer is specially designed to handle the

tremendous output of the new super Pentode valves.

Each speaker is tested over an extraordinary range of notes.

Thus Astor ensures reproduction, true as the original, from the most subdued whisper to the crescendo of a 100-piece symphony orchestra.

CHAPTER 13. - 1.-CAREFUL CABINET CRAFTSMANSHIP MAKES WARPING IMPOSSIBLE.

All Astor Cabinet artistry is not apparent on the surface.

The various plane surfaces within the cabinet are mortised together, to such exactitude that it seems as though a cabinet were actually carved out of a single piece of-wood. The legs are dowled to the body of the cabinet in such a manner that warping is impossible. Consequently, your cabinet will be as beautiful and intact in all the years to come as it is the day you select it. Astor Cabinets are fashioned from the finest figured walnut veneers with ebony inlays. The designs admirably express the trend of modern, cabinet styles, and are exclusive to Astor.

THE FINAL CHAPTER. (14). - THE ASTOR IN THE HOME.

Entering the home, Astor charms with its mobility. The coordinated compactness of design which enables you to take the Astor into any room. No elaborate installation is necessary.

You note with pleasure how the beauty of the Astor Cabinet adds to the attractiveness of home furnishings. How Astor Radio enhances your hospitality; enabling you to offer outstanding musical entertainment to your friends.

Astor gives you that certain period of real recreation which is a daily necessity to the physical and mental well-being of you and your family.

Astor Radio has definite educational value; it enables, you to gain some new knowledge each passing day. It is a modern convenience that costs less to operate and keeps you in closer touch than the telephone.

The running cost is negligible. Astor electric Radio consumes less than an ordinary lamp; less than one half-penny per day. It is an entertainment investment which represents a valuable addition to the assets of your home. DECIDE UPON AN ASTOR TO-DAY.

Pittard, Diack & Co. Pty. Ltd.

Extracted from TROVE archive by Gary Cowans, 9 October 2017.

 
Hits: 2232     Replies: 3
Astor brand name
Stuart Irwin
10.Feb.11
  1

Hello all,

I notice that the brand name for this manufacturer comes up as "Mickey Mouse" for all models.  In fact this brand was only used on a few pre-war models.  I can't seem to change this using "Suggest Change".  The brand should be simply "Astor".

Regards,

Stuart

Ernst Erb
10.Feb.11
  2

Dear Stuart
Thank you for your kind notice. Yes, we know. We are in train to delete all unnecessary Code-9-Names. For that we first have to connect them to the manufacturer/brand. Then we can delete those Code-9-Entries. And as a next step to bring those brand names which are not there in General to a forum article connected to the maker or into a special field which informs but is not taken into a search (index or non index search).

During this transition period we have this problem. Hopefully not for long. When this is done I will delete this thread.

Gilles Vrignaud
24.Oct.11
  3

Hello,

I would like to second the suggestion from Stuart regarding the Astor brand name. I was employed by Electronic Industries LTD in my youth, and the name was always Astor. I  also noticed the Mickey mouse discrepancy, but did not know how to address it. I am in the process of adding a few of the transistor models, and each time I upload a new model, I also find the Mickey Mouse. As an aside, the company got in trouble with Disney and soon dropped the name.

thank you for a wonderful site

Ernst Erb
24.Oct.11
  4

Dear Stuart and Gilles
Thank you both for telling about the Mickey Mouse brand which should be removed. I saw now that the brand was not done by code-9 but with the new version (or transferred to the new version). But now I have completely taken it out - expect naming the brand in the brand description. The effect will be reflected by tomorrow (batch process).

Would be good if somebody who knows would check the models with this brand if it is put into the model name. Otherwise Mickey Mouse would not be found anymore. At the moment we show 8 Astor models with "Mickey Mouse" in the name, beginning in 1933, ending 1939.

 
Astor (brand), Radio Corporation Pty., Ltd.; Melbourne
End of forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand

  
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