I believe this advertisement was in 1954, which was when the Regency was introduced (amazing thing, Wiikipedia), and that $51.20 price tag would be nearly $575.00 today. Yikes. It’s hard for us now to grasp what an extraordinary thing a transistor radio was when it first hit the market. Ten years later the price of a transistor radio had dropped to about $130 in today’s dollars, which put it within reach of rotten kids everywhere. Still seems high considering it was just a tinny little box with way too much treble and not enough bass, but it meant you could listen to the latest hits everywhere, and not just on the jukebox. Or you could be that guy who listens to the game on the radio even though you were at the game. Or turn on the news whenever an air raid siren went off, thinking it might be the end of the world. That terror was worth $130 right there. Then again, when something as simple and unscary as ball point pens were a brand new thing at the end of WW2 they’d set you back over $160 in today’s money. New technologies are expensive. But they seem to be getting cheaper and cheaper. This handheld computer of an iPhone I’m writing this on set me back about as much as a transistor radio would have in 1954. Progress, I guess.
Brick, great point about the joyous disruption of the transistor radio when it quietly showed up and almost spontaneously changed everything. It’s just possible youth culture and the eruption of the sixties can be laid at the feet of this thing, which for the first time in history meant you could carry soul-bursting music around on your person. Portability as power — a point your current all-purpose gizmo will blandly miss. By a country mile.