where to start and what to say? This was the 3rd generation of the
world's most expensive (and famous) mass-production portable shortwave
This is the
the article I wrote at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Oceanic
Brought to life in 1942
at the behest of the company's founder and president, Commander Eugene
McDonald, the Zenith Trans-Oceanic series was to remain in production
as a tube radio until 1962 (and as a transistorised version until
The tube versions
brought a whole new meaning to the term 'suitcase portable', being
reliably heavy and bulky - despite using 7-pin miniature battery tubes
(including that 'made-from-Unobtainium' 1L6) after 1949.
With their solid lumber
cases and hardwearing covers, the Zenith T/O's were an
expensive investment for their time and were aimed at higher-income
The waveband coverage
of the new H500 'Super' Trans-Oceanic was, allegedly, made to suit the
desires of the amateur yachting community - a prominent member being
Cmdr. E.F. McDonald of Zenith Radio!
'Trans-Oceanic' was the name given to a series of portable radios
produced from 1942 to 1962 by Zenith Radio. They were characterised by
their heavy-duty, high-quality construction and their performance as
Zenith's founder, Commander Eugene F.
McDonald, was a great admirer of advanced technological development and
believed that his company's products should include the latest, most
practical advances in a well-built product that continued to enhance
the company's reputation. Of the many products of Zenith Radio, the
'Trans-Oceanic' series of portable radios were amongst the most famous.
McDonald was a keen yachtsman and
outdoorsman and wished for a portable radio that would provide
entertainment broadcasts as well as being able to tune into weather,
marine and international shortwave stations too. He asked his company's
engineers to develop prototypes to meet his criteria and by 1940 they
had concept sets that were ready for production.
The Zenith 'T/O' began life in 1942 as
the Model 7G605 'Trans-ocean Clipper'. Priced at $75, it was released
in January but ceased production in April as Zenith shifted their
production to war-related equipment. During this short production run,
some 35,000 units were produced and sales date showed that many were
sold to customers in the 'above average' income group. However, many
also found their way into various theatres of war and in to the hands
of appreciative servicemen - demand for a resumption of production at
war's end was kept high.
The first post-war T/O was the 8G005Y,
designed by Robert Davol Budlong, an industrial design consultant
responsible for many of the Zenith radio products. Priced at $125, it
was in production from 1946 to 1949.This was replaced in December 1949
by the G500 - a 'changeover' model that had updated electronics but the
same appearance. The G500 held its price at less than $100 until it was
withdrawn in mid-1951.
The H500 'Super Trans-Oceanic' was
introduced in May 1951 at an initial price of $99.95. It had a
redesigned front face and incoporated many frequency coverage and
electronic changes ordered by McDonald.
After 1953, there was competition to
the Trans-Oceanic from both Hallicrafters, with their 'Trans-World'
series sets, and RCA, with their 'Strato-World' models.
In the spring of 1954, the 600 series
was introduced with its 'slide-rule' type dial. This model stayed in
production, with minor changes, until the end of the T/O tube era in
Eugene McDonald died in 1958 but he
was personally involved in the design changes to 'his' radio to the
very end. After 1962, the 'Royal' series of transistorised units
replaced the 'Trans-Oceanic' line but Zenith's lead was steadily
eroded. By the time of the release of the 'R7000' in 1979, fierce
competition from Sony in Japan - who, with their digital readout tuning
dial had, in many ways, a superior product - meant the end of a famous
product line soon after.
It is unlikely that this famous family
of radios will ever be resurrected.