...The radios we'll always remember

Rank Bush Murphy - British consumer electronics in the 1960s

Ham Radio History 0 Comments 08/233/2023 

Posted By: Robert Nickels (W9RAN)
Posted on 08/233/2023

RCA,  Philco, GE, Admiral...these are the big names American hams remember as the leaders in consumer electronics manufacturing in the "mid-century" period that this site is focused on.   But the world was a much different place in those pre-globalization days, and while there was some export to other countries, for the most part domestic manufacturers of similar stature all over the world supplied similar products to their local markets.   This is why a portable radio in Japan might be a "National", or a Telefunken or Normende in Germany.    In England,  it might well be a Bush radio - made by Rank  Bush Murphy Ltd, in it's factories at Chiswick and Ernesettle.   Like its US counterparts, the original company is long gone, a victim of cheap labor and changing technologies, but the brand lives on,  owned by Sainsbury's, the parent company of the retailer Argos, a catalog and retail operation.

This film, produced by the company in 1961 is typical of what would have been seen in any consumer electronics factories anywhere in the world.    Discrete components assembled and hand-soldered,  with only minimal automation.    Trained operators performed a specific set of tasks within a short time period and then the assembly was moved along the assembly line to the next operator who would continue the process until complete.   Testing and alignment was done manually by skilled operators, overseen by  technicians.   Production engineers were available for consultation when problems arose and each product with sufficient volume was built on it's own dedicated assembly line.   Clearly these were very labor-intensive operations and that is what brought them to an end, when automation and low-cost manufacturing alternatives became compelling.     But it's a nice look back in time to how electronic products were built during the "DX-60 era".


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