People seem to like the old electronics posts, so I’ve been looking to get another one up lately. Not that I don’t already have a bunch of ancient clocks, radios, VCRs, or whatevers lying around that I could write about, because I do. Oh how I do. BUT, nowadays I really prefer to spotlight items that showcase the era from which they hail particularly well.
Well, as luck would have it, I found a doozy of a candidate at the thrift store just earlier today. Dig this retro piece of cool, because man, I think it fits the bill:
This is the Panasonic RE-7441 FM/AM radio, and what it lacks in all-encompassing-photographability (that is, a single shot just doesn’t do it justice; read on, there’s more), it more than makes up for in stylish, late-1960s/early1970s good looks. And crevices; I’ll say right upfront that I did my best to clean the decades worth of dust and grime off of and out of this thing, but it was a battle I just couldn’t totally win. So when looking at these pics, know that, hey, I tried.
Functionally, there’s not really a whole lot to the RE-7441. It’s not a clock/radio, it’s just a radio. There’s the standard on/off/volume knob, a tone (bass/treble) knob, frequency selector (FM/FM AFC/AM) knob, and of course a tuning knob (it’s how you get your channels, man!).
But actually, provided someone nowadays wasn’t put off by the retro aesthetics (how could they be?!) or lack of satellite radio or some such, this thing is theoretically just as useful today as it was approximately 50 (!) years ago. That is, provided it works, naturally…
…Which, I’m happy to say, it does. Exceedingly well, in fact! The sound is very nice and I was able to tune in a decent number of channels. And bear in mind, this was in my messy basement and without any extra accoutrements, i.e. an external antenna. Had I used one of those and/or had this out in a garage or something, I’d probably be batting an even better average.
The flash on my camera totally drowned most of it out, but the display on this remains nice and bright, too. Indeed, except for some of the expected wear-and-tear that comes with years of presumable usage, this thing works like a champ. I’ve showcased before (here and here are just two examples) of how fond I am of vintage Panasonic products, and the RE-7441 just reinforces that mindset.
There’s no date on this model, but my initial, patented Northeast Ohio Video Hunter deductive reasonin’ told me 1970s at first glance. However, a quick online search found this forum post about the radio, and responses in that thread seem to point to this being a late-1960s innovation. Now that’s cool. And what’s more, Logopedia says that the Panasonic logos seen here were changed in 1971. Further research shows that Panasonic continued producing this radio with their updated logo afterwards, so yeah, my model here hails from somewhere around the late-60s/early-70s, it seems. As seen in this update’s title, I’m going with a circa-1969.
The back of the radio is pretty minimalist; except for the cord and external antenna inputs, there’s not much to speak of.
The back here does actually give a better idea of the cool contours this thing has. If the preceding front-of-radio pics didn’t get the point across (and I know they probably didn’t), you do get a sense of the sloping speaker/grill design from the back.
…Here’s an even better look, taken from the very side. Yep, the speaker/grill portion on the front of the radio is actually raised and sloped, giving the whole thing a proto-Atari 2600 appearance, which, you know, is just plain neato.
Beyond that, as you’ve seen, this thing is built of black plastic, aluminum trim, and obviously, faux-woodgrain sides. Again, it gives the whole thing a proto-2600 sensibility; no wonder my initial thoughts told me this was strictly a product of the 1970s!
(Yes, I know in the 70s it was the Atari VCS and that the 2600 branding began in ’82 when the 5200 came out; you know what I meant, lay off.)
Here’s the very bottom of the unit; condition-wise, this one’s a little rough, but that’s to be expected. Besides, it’s not like it matters all that much, since you, uh, probably wouldn’t be looking at the underside of the radio whilst listening to the hip, groovy tunes you love so.
Look close and you can see the $12 price tag I was almost able to decently remove. I did mah best. You can tell I like this thing because under normal circumstances a 12 dollar price tag would cause me to (figuratively?) ball up my fists and crinkle my face in disgust. That’s to say, I don’t really like paying that much for anything. But then, needless to say, the RE-7441 was so worth it.
If you’re inclined, click on the picture for a supersized view. See, Re-7441. Did you think I was lying? I wasn’t. I like the presence of the original serial number sticker; I wonder if the actual date of the machine can be traced through that, somehow?
(I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something identifying the date of manufacture on the inside, though I’m not going to go through the trouble of opening it up, mainly because I don’t want to know what horrible creatures crawled and subsequently died in this thing over the past 50 years. Plus, wouldn’t opening it void the warranty, he said facetiously?)
Here’s one last front-view look; you can kinda see the sloping grill better here.
The Panasonic RE-7441 is definitely a slick piece of retro technology, ridiculously cool lookin’ and still perfectly functional in this day and age. It would have easily looked at home in someone’s modern, space age living room or some long-haired, “with it” teenager’s desk, and it still exudes personality to this day. Indeed, it’s not a small radio, but not terribly big, either; find one in working condition, and you’ve got a still-usable radio that also makes for a cool conversation piece.
$12 may have been about $7 more than I would have liked to have paid for it, but that’s just because I’m cheap; $12 is in actuality a pretty reasonable price, and just goes to show that awesome vintage electronics like this can still show up for decent prices. You just gotta keep your eyes peeled! (But not in my general vicinity, please; I don’t need the competition.)