Friday, January 22, 2021

25th ANNIVERSARY POST: "THE BROWNING STORY" PT.1 (FEB 2021)


TAKE A TRIP WITH ME  BACK TO: 1996






1996 was a good year for the CB Gazette. At the time there wasn’t a lot a CB manufacturer history-related-information on the Internet other than a few questions and answers on a small cluster of websites, focused on Citizens Band radio. Glenn Hendrix was just getting started with his Browning website and specific locations like Yahoo “groups” either didn’t exist, or were just beginning. This left many knowledgeable folk, like Bob Milam, Todd Evans, and Charles Zafonte, Dave Hall (and others) with plenty to say but no place to say it other than through their own person-to-person radio QSO’s, phone calls, an occasional mention in the CB column of Popular Communications, or - the CB Gazette

It was around this time I began to publish more CB radio manufacturer origin stories, written by some of the more knowledgeable CB radio history buffs around at that time. One such historian, Bob Milam, had started out as my West coast finder/picker for all things old involving CB radio. If it was for sale or trade and worth a hoot, I could count on Bob to bring me and the seller together (while, as most radio liaisons did in those days, he collected a small percentage of the sale from the seller). As the Gazette grew, from 2 8.5 x 11 pieces of paper stapled together Bob (and others) ended up being semi-regular guest contributors. He and I spent a lot of time (and $$$ to the phone company) on countless landline QSO’s that all revolved around 2-way radio, both CB and Ham, but as real life often does, the twists and turns of life's changes eventually slowed the number of these calls each year until finally ceasing after the turn of the Century. It was shock to my system when I received an e-mail from Bob’s wife letting me know of his passing. I would like to tell you that I circled that date on a calendar – but I didn’t, so now I can only place the email somewhere in the 2013-2016 time frame. 

It's never a "given" but many of us, somewhat selfishly, expect their friends and acquaintances to live just as long as we do, but when circumstances flip that given on our collective heads - it can hurt.

One of the most popular sections of my former publication were articles that dealt with Citizen Band Radio's history, and about the fabled manufacturers, along with the radios they built - something newbies could only hear about during those late evening/middle-of-the-night QSOs where fellow radio operators would huddle by their speakers while listening to a friend tell a story about some long gone company, that perhaps they had been told years earlier by another friend. 

I like a good story as much as anyone, so the Gazette featured articles that served as origin stories for some of the legendary manufacturers of CB’s Golden Age: like Browning Laboratories, General Radiotelephone, and Tram (to name a few). Of all the long gone manufacturers, Bob had two favorites: The General Radiotelephone  company and Browning Laboratories, so it's fitting that this is one of first articles I re-post, a celebration the 25th anniversary of his first article(s) his story about Browning. 

So it's with great pleasure that i once again present, Bob Milam’s “The Browning Story” (part one)...














 
 
 
 
 






 
 

 



OTHER CLASSIC ADVERTISING (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

 















































 

 

 

 

SHACK PLUS SHOTS:


 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 



LINKS:

 

CB GAZETTE BROWNING PAGE:HERE

Glenn Hendrix's BROWNING LABORATORIES, INC. : HERE

THE OLD TUBE RADIO BROWNING ARCHIVES: HERE

GRUMPY'S OLDE TIME RADIO FORUM BROWNING PAGE: HERE

BROWNING LABORATORIES FACEBOOK PAGE: HERE

FANS OF BROWNING, TRAM, AND SONAR FB GROUP: HERE 

FOSTERS.COM ARTICLE BROWNING'S MOVE TO NH: HERE

RADIO MUSEUM.ORG BROWNING PAGE: HERE

CB TRICKS BROWNING PAGE: HERE

GOOGLE BOOKS - TRIBUTE TO BROWNING: HERE


SO ends the beginning of my "Retro-Year". Of course, part two of Bob's story will follow next month (March), and if anyone would like their Browning shack photo's in this Browning "special" please send them to me via email (along with any pertinent details/information)


73

WOODY











Wednesday, October 07, 2020

PHONES THAT WEREN'T PHONES: THE 'TELEPHONE HANDSET WIRED TO A CB' FAD

 

A curious trend in the Citizens Band radio family tree occurred in the mid-70's: Stylish telephone handsets connected to regular CB radios. 

Except for the handset, nothing distinguished these radios from models having a standard microphone (other than rx audio piped to handset).  If someone bought one of these they'd have the neighbors (and probably thieves) believing that you had a very expensive mobile phone system. 

Or maybe it was just the "cool factor".

In any case, some sales rep convinced some department head to manufacture a few models because they felt it was something that would differentiate their radios from all of the other manufacturers. This led to the "You showed me yours, now I'll show you mine" effect and before you knew it, many of the big CB radio leaders were offering competing models.

 

THIS IS WHAT A REAL MOBILE TELEPHONE LOOKED LIKE IN THE OLDEN DAYS

 

This was known as the Mobile Telephone Service, or - MTS, and the very first system came to existence at BELL, which ends my history lesson about MTS, however, if you're so inclined to know more about MTS, just click on the link(s).


While the market didn't see  a major switch to telephone handsets

until 1975, it was not a new concept. One of the earliest CB radios, Radson's RT-75A, was equipped with one from the get-go. Like many early CBs the RT-75 lacked any of the bells & whistles you've come to take for granted today, only having on-off and push-to-talk transmit switches...

 

"S-METER?" "WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING S-METERS

 

YES, you too could have this cool radio mounted on your very own tractor (HINT-HINT to MOWER JUNKIE)
 

 


 

 

MOVING ALONG... HERE ARE SOME OTHER MODELS...

 

1875


 

 


 

TRC-426

 


 



 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

 


EFJ MESSENGER 130A

 

 

EFJ MESSENGER 132

EFJ MESSENGER 132

 

THIS IS ONE OF THE HARDEST TO FIND GE CB RADIOS

 

 

THESE EARLY RADIOS OFFERED YOU A CHOICE - Microphone or Handset

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT LAFAYETTE COM-PHONE 23

 

LAFAYETTE COM-PHONE 23



 
 
LAFAYETTE COM-PHONE 23



 
 
 
 

 
ARTICLE REVIEW: POPULAR ELECTRONICS

 ** Compared to the standard CB radio the adjacent channel rejection (ACR) at 60dB was actually pretty good, perhaps slightly above many other rigs, and better than the ones whose ACR fell below 50dB. 

Back in the good 'ol days a lot of us "CBer's" lurked in the shadows near the local news stand, when word got out that the next year's CB "Buyers Guide" would soon be available. Besides the fact these issues were like an adults version of the Sears Wish book, you could find anything and everything that had to do with CB. All radios were listed by each manufacturer in alphabetical order, usually, but not always with photos of each individual radio model.
 
 

 

Beyond getting a look at a new radio, a prospective buyer could compare a radios specifications with another model. Most of the numbers were close enough to be considered equal, but occasionally you would run across a few surprises; both good, and bad.
 
FIG. 1: SPARK-O-MATIC CB-5000 WITH ACR OF -45dB

 
FIG. 2: LAFAYETTE TELSAT SSB-140 WITH -70dB ACR
 

If you've followed my articles over the last 30+ years you know that one 'spec more than any other could make or break how I felt about a radio while doing a "Hands On" review, and that specification is the adjacent channel rejection (ACR). 
 
 This was really important to me, back when you could find a base CB antenna poking the sky, every mile or so apart from each other. This created a nightmare for those of us using base stations - bleedover was killing everyone, especially if you had bad ACR to begin with...
 
Anything under 50dB usually got a FAIL from me, and I realize now that it may not have any relevance to everyone else, so I've been adjusting some past reviews as time allows. But in the 70's I obtained some relief from a several close-by neighbors when I bought a Johnson base station. It was much better than the Midland 13-880B I was using (but still had to use if I wanted to talk on the lower side).
 
 

 

LAFAYETTE COM-PHONE 23

 


 

CATALOG 760 PAGE 3 - HOTLY PROMOTED ITEMS WERE USUALLY FOUND IN THE FIRST FEW PAGES OF THE CATALOG. BY CONTRAST THE REST OF THEIR CB LINE APPEARS MUCH LATER IN THE CATALOG, AS SHOWN BELOW

 

CATALOG 760 PAGE 227

 


 


 
 
 
 
MIDLAND 77-963

 
 
 
 

 




 

 

MIDLAND 13-886

 

 

ANOTHER ONE YOU DON'T OFTEN SEE: SANYO TA-777

 


 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

 

TEABERRY TELE-T

 

 So there you have it; as many tele-set CB radios as I could remember (and a few I didn't know of until doing this blog post). Ultimately it came down to ergonomics, and the difficulty one would face if they wanted to purchase  the Tele-handset knowing there was no 3rd party microphone support:  Neither Turner or Astatic had handset versions of the +2/+3, of D104.


Those CB "phones" are a cool oddity to look at though.....


WELL...THIS WAS CERTAINLY A LETDOWN..


I got an email over the weekend with Subject: New President Adams! I was suddenly swept up in a wave of nostalgia, thinking about the original President Adams, and wondering how cool it would be have the new Adams side-by-side with the old Adams, comparing one to the other much like I did with President's Grant II and new McKinley.

Each of those new radios brought something new and exciting to the family tree, while maintaining solid Sideband performance. Then, I saw the new Adams and with a loud POP the air escaped from that big balloon that had formed in my brain, as I realized that this new Adams was just a punk radio that some soulless marketing snake er...person from the bowels of the company said to himself "Huh we need a name for a new President CB...let's use Adams ", without putting any real thought into that decision.


FROM THIS:

 



TO THIS??


 
AND NOW, FOR SOMETHING HUMOROUS... 
 
 


This is mostly humorous to those of us who grew up seeing signs while driving around town, like the one below -





73

WOODY

 


 

 

 

 

 

IT'S OCTOBER!! 


AND TIME TO DUST OFF THOSE FAVORITE "CREEP" BLU-RAY'S:

 

 






 




 

 

 

 

OKAY. IF YOU SCROLLED THIS FAR, YOU DESERVE SOMETHING TO SEE, RATHER THAN NOTHING.

 

SOMETHING