Radio-Electronics Magazine, June 1949

     

The Radio Hat, posed by Hope Lange.

The radio hat shown on the June, 1949 cover of Radio-Electronics looks a bit comical nowadays, but these words from the cover article are prophetic:

Communication, reception of news, time and weather reports, are a constant necessity to people in this country. So is a light and portable receiver, such as the Radio Hat, illustrated in these pages.

Sixty-one years later, the technology has advanced in ways not foreseen in 1949, and our desire to be constantly "wired" is stronger than ever.

Unlike some what-if ideas that appeared in magazines, the radio hat made it to market under the improbable name "Man From Mars Radio Hat." It was widely sold via mail order and in stores throughout the United States. The girl in the cover photo is "the" Hope Lange. Then a 15-year old schoolgirl, she went on to a long acting career in stage, screen, and television.

The article (naturally) paints a glowing picture of the radio hat's performance, but in practice it must have been a bit trying to use. Using a minimal two-tube circuit, it would have been limited to strong local stations. With a directional antenna on your head, reception would fade in and out as you turned in different directions.

  

It's interesting to compare this radio hat to one described in the December 1936 issue of Radio Craft magazine. Predating this one by 13 years, the 1936 set was more of a wearable radio. Its hat portion was an antenna, while the radio and its batteries were strapped to the wearer's belt or carried in a pocket. This radio was more self-contained: the receiver and antenna we installed in the hat but the batteries were carried elsewhere on the body.

A fair number of these radios were sold, and they can still be found with a little looking. As with all novelty radios, their value is anybody's guess. Some collectors might find them interesting as historical artifacts, while others might dismiss them as silly.

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