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“My greatest luxury”: radio in the 1940s and my Nerd Nite talk

Someone loved this vintage radio, built in Christchurch, NZ

Tonight, I’m giving a talk at Nerd Nite Wellington! It’s about the history of wireless communication, our passion for it, and whether or not we are loving our wireless access to death. Here’s a tidbit from the presentation – a glimpse of what radio used to mean to a stylish young woman living through World War II.

Someone loved this vintage radio, built in Christchurch, NZ

““My wireless was small, round-shouldered, encased in shiny brown Bakelite; I treasured it as my greatest luxury….That little friendly lit panel, with all those names and numbers printed fanwise, red and green, represented freedom, warmth, a world that was alive…During the war I think the wireless must have been a greater blessing to more people than it had ever been before. No telly, no outside lights after dusk, many theaters and some cinemas closing down, almost everything rationed….I certainly enjoyed my wireless more actuely and greedily than I have ever enjoyed it since.”

excerpt from “The Purple Dress”, Jenifer Wayne’s memoir of growing up in the 1930s and working for BBC Radio during World War II.

3 Comments

  1. Can I just say that I’m still kicking myself for taking the huge (about 1 m cube) tube set, made around 1955, from the rooming house where it was abandoned by some tenant several years before I got there? It did need a few replacement tubes, but there is something truly wonderful about the warm tube sound. But I moved to a relatively dinky new place and had no-one to help me get it down the stairs. It must have weighed a ton.

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