Radio History of Shanghai, China
This is a translation of Chinese post found on leowood bbs; I have obtained permission from author ZTL to translate and publish on RadioMuseum. I will translate little by little and post here when time is available.
In Winter 1922, American journalist E. G. Osborn established the first radio broadcast station in China, a 50 watt radio tower located on the rooftop of Robert Dollar Building on Guangdong Road, Shanghai. Osborn had a business partner Zeng Jun, a Chinese living in Japan, and they formed the Radio Corporation of China, registered as an American company to sell radio receivers in Shanghai. The station was named the Osborn Radio Station, which started broadcasting at 8 PM, January 23, 1923, and it created a sensation in Shanghai. In a few days 500 radio receivers (later renamed Radio) were sold. This was the first radio station and the first radio company in the history of China. Later on, many more radio stations were established, and radio became popular in Shanghai. In the early days, radios were imported, mainly from the US. Crystal radio sets and tube radios were available in Shanghai, with crystal sets being the most popular.
* more readings: Brief History of Broadcasting Stations in Shanghai
*Poster comment: The Osborn Radio Station was in business for only a few months. It had financial issues, but the most important reason for its demise was its legal status, because the Northern Government didn't have a law to allow civilian radio broadcasting at that time.
Robert Dollar Building, built in 1921, now located on 51 Guangdong Road, Shanghai
In August 1924, the Ministry of Transportation announced interim provisions for broadcast radio receivers, allowing the public to assemble and use radio receivers. The Shanghai Construction Committee established the Shanghai Wireless Machinery Factory to make seven-tube AC powered radios from imported components. City residents slowly started to assemble radio receivers; many adopted regenerative circuits. Mr. Yan Jingyu from Shanghai Jiande Savings Society successfully assembled a superheterodyne receiver the same month. In Oct. 1925, Ama Radio Co., Ltd. successfully manufactured crystal radios and vacuum tube radios in Songjiang Library. These radios not only received broadcast from Shanghai, they also received music programs from broadcast stations in Japan. Ama Radio had been established on October 8, 1924 by seven siblings Su Zufei, Su Zugui, Su Zuxiu, Su Zuguo, Su Zuyao, and Su Zuguang, and was the first Chinese domestic capital electronics company. Ama set up a factory, a retail department, a repair department, a broadcast station, and a publishing house to manufacture and sell electronic components, radio equipment, books, crystal radios, and vacuum tube radios. In July 1952, Ama Radio Co., Ltd. merged with YaNan Fabrication Company and changed its name to AMA Mechanical and Electronic Co. Ltd. The Electronic Branch of AMA changed its name to AMA No.2 Electronic Factory in 1955, and became the AMA Electronic Factory in 1957. In 1966 it became the Shanghai No. 26 Wireless Factory.
In 1932, Cheng Quan set up the Amateur Wireless Society. Starting in 1934, the society made paper inductance components, and published the "Three Day Radio Magazine" and other technical books. On January 5, 1933, Ama Radio Co., Ltd. published "China Radio" fortnightly, which became a monthly magazine in 1938. Publication ended on 5 March, 1942 after the third issue of volume 10. "China Radio" magazine was published for almost 10 years without interruption.
China Radio issue 1 volume 2
China Radio issue 22 volume 4
China Radio issue 3 volume 9
In October 1933, Ama Radio Co., Ltd. started to sell its 1001 crystal radio. Due to its compact size, low cost, and good reception, it was well received by general public. In October 1935, Ama designed and made China's first superheterodyne AM radio, the model 1651 with five tubes. Ama became the first company to commercialize radio production. Except for tubes and carbon resistors, the 1651 used in-house manufactured components such as RF/IF/power transformers and coils. The specifications of the 1651 were equal to imported models but it sold for only half the price, which was very attractive to consumers. Following the 1651, Ama made the 1641 four-tube model and dual band models 5TS5 and 5TS6. Because their design conformed to the local Shanghai 50 Hz electricity standard and were suitable for the local climate, they had a long working life and a competitive advantage over imported radios. Because of this Ama established a very good reputation in Shanghai.
1001 Crystal radio advertisement
1001 Crystal radio advertisement (note its price is 3 silver dollars)
Ama 1651 radio advertisement
Ama workshop in 1930s
In 1930s, other manufacturers started to make radios. Among them, Zhongyong Wireless Factory (Established in Oct. 1930) had a fairly large scale, second only to Ama Radio Co., Ltd., and made one tube three-circuit radios and DC three tube radios. Other radio companies included Huachang Wireless Apparatus Factory, Shaodun Electronic Company (established in May 1925), and Ya Er Electronic Factory, which made many radios ranging from one tube to five tube models. Although their manufacturing facility fell behind and not a great number of radios were made, these radios nevertheless represent one period of Chinese radio history. Ama, Mofanle and Liangyou (Good Friend) were reputable brands. The Mofanle five-tube radio made by Ya Er Electronic Factory started selling in Thailand in 1937; Ya Er became the first exporting Chinese radio manufacturer.
Zhongyong radio advertisement
This link to the top view enables the reader to get the full sketch about the radio history in China. The tow view article lists the different articles about the Chinese radio history and gives an overview - also about literature we know of etc.
We are at the beginning of this framework and thankful for any cooperation. There is a lot to do until this is really informative as a reference work.
In 1936, along with technology development, radio became much more popular in Shanghai, total number reached more than 100,000, but almost all of them are foreign made products, competition kept domestic radio manufacturing industry a slow development pace. July 1937, the Sino-Japanese War broke out, a big hit to the Shanghai radio manufacturing industry. On December 18, 1942, Japanese occupation force prohibited the use of radios with more than seven tubes, and forced users to remove shortwave coil of radios with six tubes and below, production came to a stop, Ama Radio Co., Ltd. converted to make "Triangle" brand bicycle chains, Liwen Wireless Company (founded in November 1939) instead to make bicycle seats.
After the end of World War II in 1945, Shanghai radio manufacturing industry resumed radio production. Ama Radio Co., Ltd resumed radio broadcasting and radio production business. New radio manufacturing companies started to appear in the market, such as Hongyin Wireless Equipment Factory, Liwen Wireless Company (changed name into Liwen Wireless Equipment Factory in 1948; after 1949, gradually become a professional speaker production factory; July 1959, merged with Oriental Electric Factory; August 1960, split into two factories, the speakers workshops changed into Shanghai No. 11 Wireless Factory, its radio and amplifier workshop turned into Shanghai No. 2 Wireless Factory), Fudan Electric Equipment Factory, Wanli Electric Equipment Factory, Tianhe Electric and Chemical Industrial Society and Zhongxing Wireless Equipment Factory.
Philo one tube radio and crystal set advertisement
June 1946, Head Office of Central Government National Resources Commission moved to Shanghai, preparing to set up Central Wireless Equipment Co. Ltd, the Head Office becomes management division of the company. In July the same year, Central Broadcasting Equipment Maintenance and Manufacture Station, subsidiary of National Government Broadcasting Administration moved to Shanghai. July 1st 1947, Central Wireless Equipment Co. Ltd formally established. (The company together with Central Broadcasting Equipment Maintenance and Manufacture Station came under military control after China Communist Party took power in 1949. In June 1949, Central Broadcasting Equipment Maintenance and Manufacture Station was renamed Shanghai Broadcasting Equipment Maintenance and Manufacture Factory, and resumed production. On May 3rd, 1950, four electronics/communications factories including Shanghai Broadcasting Equipment Maintenance and Manufacture Factory, China Record Factory moved to Beijing, to help build the Beijing People’s Broadcasting Equipment Factory.) The research division under Central Wireless Equipment Co. Ltd was expanded into a research institute and workshop added. The research workshop made “Resources” brand table and floor-standing high quality 8-tube radios, AC power stabilizers, Radio and Auto-Change Record Players. After 1949, the research institute was put under the Bureau of Telecommunications, Ministry of Heavy Industry and renamed Shanghai Electronics Research Institute, and moved to Beijing in Autumn 1952.
Resources BR6-2A radio
At the end of 1947, there were 590 electronics related factories and companies in Shanghai, in which 235 are wireless companies/factories. Because many of the components were imported, and lowly paid assembly cost, domestic radio manufacturing industry had a hard time to survive. In early 1949, before the communist government took power, 30% of the wireless industry were shut down or semi shut down, only 7 factories were making radios and components, with a total of 113 workers employed.
May 27, 1949 the communist People's Liberation Army entered Shanghai and ended the Nationalist Government control. From 1949 to 1952, the new government gave a big support to private radio business, production generally improved, there were 558 telecommunications equipment manufacturers established in this period and 2032 workers employed. From 1952 to 1955, radio production increased 10-fold.
On July 21st, 1952, the Broadcasting Material Division of Shanghai People's Broadcasting Station expanded into the first state-owned wireless assembling manufacturer - Eastern China Broadcasting Equipment Factory, it was renamed Shanghai People's Broadcasting Equipment Factory in April 1953, and renamed again into National Shanghai Broadcasting Equipment Factory in Jan. 1955. This factory made the first batch of type 155 five-tube radio under the new government in Feb. 1955. August the same year, pioneered production of Shanghai 354, Shanghai 355 five-tube two-band super-heterodyne radios using the assembly line technology. In Apr. 1956, started radio export, signaled the domestic industrialization of radio production in China. In 1957, Shanghai Broadcasting Equipment Factory started to develop car radio for the Changchun No.1 Vehicle Factory's high end Red-Flag sedan, in Sep. 1958, developed the Shanghai 382 auto-tuning car radio, during the research and development, the factory solved lattice coil and whip antenna production issues. Shanghai 382 was formally made from 1959, until the end of 1960, 643 Shanghai 382 car radios were made. In April 1958, the factory made the first class1 Shanghai 131 seven-tube radio, this radio won the first prize in the Second National Broadcasting Radio Competition in 1959. 58,773 sets of Shanghai 131 were made, 6,700 were exported in the life time. In 1962, Shanghai 131 was transferred to Shanghai No. 2 Wireless Factory to manufacture. Based on Shanghai 131, the factory developed Shanghai 531 seven-tube four-band super-heterodyne floor standing radio and Shanghai 532 fourteen-tube full-band super-heterodyne radio receiver, record player and sound recorder multifunctional radio, the 531 and 532 model all exceeded national class1 radio standards. Between 1953 to 1957, the radio production of this factory accounted for 25.6% of national radio productions, many models were exported. From 1952 to 1959, major products from this factory are radios and amplifiers, a total of 13 types 58 models of radio were developed.
Shanghai 156-A (Different design)
Mother Country 158
Shanghai 157 Manual
Metto 382 Car Radio
Shanghai 451 Wood
Shanghai 451 Manual
Wireless Technology (Shanghai 451 Special Edition)
People's Daily (Report on new radio models)
Shanghai 131 (Different Design)
Shanghai (Model to be identified)
Shanghai Broadcasting Equipment Factory Flyer