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Ghetto-Blaster, Boombox, Jambox, Radio-Cassette History

Ernst Erb Martin Renz Vincent de Franco Miguel Bravo-Cos Mark Hippenstiel Alessandro De Poi Heribert Jung Bernhard Nagel Eilert Menke 
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Forum » In General » Ghetto-Blaster, Boombox, Jambox, Radio-Cassette History
Ernst Erb
Ernst Erb
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04.Jan.10 15:05

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Before information about Ghetto-Blasters, Boomboxes, Jamboxes or "Radio-Cassettes" will be hard to find, we should care for the history of such radio types. It might not be easy to find the first such "Instrument" and it might be hard to decide what was similar before - but not yet the Ghetto-Blaster-Type - and what is not anymore a Ghetto-Blaster today. We might be able to say:
A Ghetto-Blaster has to have at least radio and a cassette, two (stereo) loudspeakers, a certain audio power and can be battery operated - often besides mains.

To animate members who know more or can take the time to do a research and analysis I copy here a text from Wikipedia and will then link in an other post some typical Ghetto-Blaster, Boombox, Jambox, "Radio-Cassette" models.

If we find a good way to identify, we might open a new possibility for selection with the "Professional model search". I think we have to see also Ghetto Blasters as collecting item. Generally the next generation of collectors will collect what they either admired but could not afford or what parents or grand parents had. In contrast to the older radio models with tubes or "discrete circuit technology" (without ICs) these types of radios will often not be repairable - but still worth collecting.

Wikipedia January 4, 2010:

Boombox, also known as ghetto blaster, jambox, or radio-cassette. A boombox is capable of receiving radio stations and playing recorded music (usually cassettes or CDs), usually at relatively high volume. Many models are also capable of recording (onto cassette) from radio and (sometimes) other sources. Designed for portability, most boomboxes can be powered by batteries, as well as by line current.

The Origin (
of Boom boxes)
Boom boxes were introduced commercially by various companies in the late 1970's, when stereo capabilities were added to existing designs of the radio-cassette recorder, which had appeared earlier that decade. More powerful and sophisticated models were subsequently introduced. They are often associated with 1980s phenomena such as breakdancing and hip hop culture, having been introduced into the mainstream consciousness through music videos, movies, television and documentaries.

It was during this time that the major manufacturers competed as to who could produce the biggest, loudest, clearest-sounding, bassiest, flashiest and/or most novel boomboxes. As the decade progressed, manufacturers tended to compete more on price (often at the expense of quality), and smaller designs (often designed for simple background listening) became more popular. This era was prior to the introduction and cultural entrenchment of the Walkman style, personal stereos with headphones which would later displace boom boxes in popularity.

(of Boom Boxes or Ghetto Blasters)
Technically a Boombox is, at its simplest, two or more loudspeakers, an amplifier, a radio tuner, and a cassette and/or CD player component, all housed in a single plastic or metal case, often with a handle for portability. Most units can be powered by AC or DC cables, as well as batteries.

Various boombox designs differ greatly in size. Larger, more powerful units may require 10 or more size-D batteries, may measure more than thirty inches in width, and can weigh more than 20 pounds.

Audio quality and feature sets vary widely, with high-end models providing features and sound comparable to some home stereo systems. Most models offer volume, tone and balance (Left/Right) controls.

More sophisticated models may feature dual cassette decks (often featuring high-speed dubbing), separate bass level control, five- or 10-band graphic equalizers, Dolby noise reduction, analog or LED sound level (VU) meters, larger speakers, 'soft-touch' tape deck controls, multiple shortwave (SW) band reception, auto song search functions for cassettes, Line and/or Phono inputs and outputs, microphone inputs, loudness switches and detachable speakers. A handful of models even featured an integrated vinyl record player or a (typically black and white) television screen, although the basic radio/cassette models have historically been by far the most popular.

A few of the most modern boomboxes have integrated (or removable) satellite radio tuners. Also in many cases with newer versions of the boombox, iPod docks have been put in place of cassette players, creating a fusion of new technology and old personality.

Terminology (
in different Areas)
The synonym ghetto blaster is a term that can be considered insulting or complimentary depending on the context. The word ghetto blaster originated in the United States, reflecting the popularity of boom boxes for entertainment in urban African American neighborhoods. "Ghetto blaster" rather than "boombox" became the common term in the United Kingdom (especially among the black community in London), Canada and Australia for large portable stereos.

In the UK, the term "wog box" has fallen from favour in social discourse. Another term popular in the UK was "Brixton briefcase", which referred to the predominantly black suburb of south London, another example of these devices being associated with a predominantly black inner-city neighbourhood.

Evolution of design (
of the Ghetto Blaster radios)
The popularity of large portable stereos declined in the early 1990s, and few models are currently manufactured. The rectangular, angular, chrome aesthetic of many 1980s models were replaced with black plastic in the 1990s, and modern designs are dominated by curves instead of right angles. The designs of older models are a source of much interest amongst enthusiasts and collectors, the most sought after and rare models often commanding huge sums of money.

Compressed digital audio and the future of boomboxes

Even though many boomboxes had dual cassette decks and included dubbing, line, and radio recording capabilities, the rise of recordable CDs first and of high-density MP3 players later have further reduced their popularity to such an extent that it's difficult to find a new dual-decked boombox.

Most modern boomboxes include a CD player compatible with CD-R and CD-RW, which allows the user to carry their own music compilations on a higher fidelity medium. Many also permit iPod and similar devices to be plugged into them. Some also support formats such as MP3 and WMA.

The simplest way to connect an older boombox to an MP3 player is to use a cassette adapter, which interfaces an MP3 player's output directly to the cassette player's heads. The 'Line In' (also known as 'Aux In') can be used if the boombox has one.

Some modern boombox designs provide other connections for MP3 (and sometimes other digital formats) such as a USB connector for use with a removable USB drive, slots for various flash memory media such as Sony Memory Stick, SmartMedia, MMC and SD, or even a CD drive capable of reading MP3s directly from a CD, thus allowing for a relatively cheap and large music storage to be carried and played back at full volume.

Today there are new lines of boomboxes that utilized Bluetooth technology known as Stereo Bluetooth, or A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile). They use the wireless Bluetooth technology to "stream" audio to the boombox from a compatible Bluetooth device, such as a mobile phone or Bluetooth MP3 player."

Please keep in mind that this article at Wikipedia is not a definite version. It contains for instance weasel words, which are phrases that are evasive, ambiguous or misleading. On Wikipedia, the term refers to evasive, ambiguous or misleading attribution.

Ernst Erb
Ernst Erb
CH  Articles: 5568
Schem.: 13736
Pict.: 30872
04.Jan.10 16:14

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Just to start the possibility for finding a few examples I link here some of the displayed models. Most of them fail yet to produce pictures and I hope that will change soon.

Some models with pictures here:
A typical "Double Cassette Ghetto Blaster is the Emerson model Double Cassette CTR 949 which carries a US brand but was manufactured in South Korea. A Japan made Sony from 1981:  Stereo Cassette-Corder 4 Bands CFS-F5L or domestic version with two SW bands as CFS-F5S. Sony CFS-81S or CFS-81L etc. A Panasonic (Matsushita): RX-CW55F. Hitachi Stereo Cassette Recorder TRK-8600E.

Some models which at least today miss a picture or show only a name plate - but contain a detailled description:
Sanyo Stereo Cassette Recorder M9998K.
Sony Stereo Cassette-Corder 4 Bands CFS-F5S or CFS-F5.
Crown HiFi Stereo Sound System CSC-980L or CSC-980F.
Taiwan: Lasonic L-30K or TRC-920 or TRC-975 or Lasonic Jumbo TRC-975, all from Yung Fu Electrical Appliances.

Some models where we miss knowledge about the manufacturer/Brand:
Blaunkton Turbo-1 or from Hong-Kong the Unitex K-7012. Or a model from "Rising" (where ?): 4-Band Stereo Cassette Recorder SRC-2005.
South Korea: Manufacturer unknown: Candle Stereo 2000 JTR 1316.
USA ? Penney's J.C. (where ?) 681-3884 (Cat.No.851-1511)
There is even a Vega (Wega) 335 Stereo from the Soviet Union (UdSSR).

Who knows more?

Be careful: There are already some retro models on the market like for instance:
Lasonic TRC-931 "Retro 1" from Yung Fu Electrical Appliances in Taiwan. This model reveals the differences for the (up to now) two retro versions of this original TRC-931 ! See a similar SZ-5000 from Unisef Tokyo.

It is good practise to name Ghetto Blaster AND Boombox in the notes and give as much details as possible. We have to be aware that not everything which is
called "Boom box" is a Ghetto Blaster!