Do you remember those little cigarette package sized radios, like the one pictured above, that came out around 1960? The sound that came out of them was pretty bad, the speakers would distort at anything over a whisper. We called them tranistor radios or just tranistors for short, it was music on the go and we loved them as kids. Some of my friends had them so I had saved up a few bucks and today was my big day.
I went down to Ray's Cigar Store at Queen and Parliament which was the mecca in our area for these things. For weeks now I'd been pressing my nose against the window in awe of the two dozen or so beauties displayed there. I already knew the one I wanted so in I went and plopped my money down on the counter.
"You'll need a nine volt battery for that" Sez Ray. I dug into my jeans and pulled out another quarter. "Want me to put it in for you?" He asked. "No thanks Ray" I replied proudly "I know how to do it". I took off out the door and ran up to the school yard to show off my new pride and joy. "Hey you guys, I got a transistor". "Hey neat, lets see" Sez Terry, our resident tranistor specialist "Aw, it's just two transistor, two tranistors ain't no good". "Yeah, so what, listen" I said, as I let him hear Roy Orbison reverberating through my two-inch speaker. "Ya gotta have at least four tranistors if ya wanna hear it good, everybody knows that" Terry snapped back as he flicked his on. "I don't hear no difference" I tried to yell out over Elvis who was now pounding out through both our speakers. "Naw, it's way better" He sez. Now the rest of the guys jumped in "Yeah, shut it off, we wanna listen to Terry's tranistor". So that was it, I walked away with my head hung down low. I was dead, my entire life was over at the tender age of eleven. I was a "Two Tranistor Man". Once a "Two Tranistor Man", always a "Two Tranistor Man". I would be shunned by those with more transistors and even by those that had no transistors. I could even picture my future tombstone: Please Forgive Him Lord For He Knew Not What He Did. Here Lies A "Two Tranistor Man".
However, my humiliation only lasted a couple of weeks though. What a stroke of luck, every time my brother went down to the midway at the "EX", he'd come back with his arms full of stuffed animals and other goodies. So one Saturday night he came home with his usual winnings and handed me a "Six Transistor" radio. Why not, he didn't need it, he was already an "Eight Transistor Man" "Here ya go kid, show them that one" He said with a big smile on his face. I guess he'd heard about my dilema. But then again, who in the family hadn't heard my constant wimpering. I pulled it out of the box, threw in a battery and cranked it on. It was a lot bigger than my "Two Transistor" and the speaker was way bigger. I turned it up, louder, louder, and still louder. By the time it finally distorted it was loud enough to wake the dead. Wow!... I was in heaven, I'd just jumped from the bowels of society to undreamed of heights. I would again walk down the street proudly with my head held up high. Fats Domino and Ricky Nelson would be my constant companions. The guys I hung around with would tell Terry to put away his "Four Transistor" so they could listen to my "Six Transistor". Kids would swarm around the guy that could pack two radios in his pockets. Ah! Life was gonna be good again. I couldn't wait till the next day to get out into that school yard. Oh, by the way, this page was made on my IBM Aptiva computer. It has over seven million transistors. I guess that makes me a "Seven Million Transistor Man". Cool Eh? Geez I love Transistors...