Car radio, portable, model 224 push button, plastic / metal / rubber, Ferris Bros Pty Ltd, Australia, 1965
The early experimental car sets developed by Ferris were not efficient radios, and it was not until the beginning of 1938 that Ferris began producing a radio for sale and installation. This first model was the Ferris Fultone model 56 (K438-1: Ferris Fultone model 56 identified by Mr WM Ferris, January 1998).
Ferris Bros. Pty. Ltd. expended a good proportion of resources and time on product design, technical improvement and manufacture techniques. Ferris forged strategic partnerships with component manufacturers enabling the speedier delivery of technical innovations to the market place. The trend over this period (1940-1970) was toward the production of smaller and more feature enhanced radios than their competitors. The Ferris radio equipment in the collection illustrate an impressive array of both portable and fixed auto receivers with the design emphasis variously on RF gain and selectivity, multiband coverage, push-button tuning, audio performance and so on.
One of the greatest leaps in car radio development came with the introduction of transistors. The first use of entirely transistorised circuits by Ferris was in the model 134 in 1959. The use of transistors greatly improved reception and performance by eliminating the noisy and troublesome vibrator unit (which supplied higher voltages to valve sets). Transistors also made possible a great reduction in receiver size, lengthened battery life, and receivers played instantly when switched on.
Another innovation introduced by the model 134 was its design to slip into a cradle mounted under a vehicle dashboard. Connections to the car battery, extension speaker and aerial were mounted in this cradle.
Ferris has received consumer organisation accolades for product design (see choice magazine article on Ferris model 189A push button fixed car radio - "Volumatic Eleven").
The Ferris material includes a significant sample of car radio products manufactured over three decades. Chum Ferris established what was to become Ferris Bros. Pty. Ltd. In Mosman in 1932. Initial trade was in the manufacture (hand assembled) and service of mantle and console radios. Within four years the registered company "Ferris Bros. Pty. Ltd." was formed and the major decision to manufacture car radio receivers was taken.
In 1938 Ferris began manufacturing a car radio for sale and installation.
Ferris produced their first portable car radio model 74 in 1947. Between 1947 and 1954 eight major portable car radio models were developed and manufactured.
Ferris manufactured the model 134 transistorised portable car radio in Australia in 1959. In the following years sets of this type were manufactured in the UK, on the continent and in Japan, but Ferris claims to be the first to develop the idea of an all-transistor portable car radio operating from its own dry battery and/or a car battery.
A succession of transistor models followed the model 134 through the 1960s.
Despite Ferris' moves to automate production, complete receivers manufactured in Asia would ultimately be imported for less than the cost of the parts needed to build them here.
Guglielmo Marconi (radio pioneer) was the first person to fit a radio to a car. That was in 1901 and the car was steam powered (the radio took up most of the car). It was not until the 1930s that car radios became viable, affordable and popular. In U.S.A. a "handful" of car radios sold in 1932, by 1934 annual sales in the U.S.A. soared to 1.35 million.
Around the mid 1930s in Sydney there appeared to be an unsatisfied demand for car radio.
In 1938 Ferris began producing a car radio for sale and installation. This first model was the Ferris Fultone model 56. The success of the ferris car radio product prompted the recommencement of manufacturing after the war. the model 74 was released in 1947 and until the 1969 Hawker Siddeley Electronics Ltd. buy out Ferris was an aggressive marketer and manufacturer of this product.
Ferris car radios became renowned for reliability and styling. Ferris won a substantial share of the Australian auto/home/portable market.
The fact that car radios are now manufactured as original equipment in all cars is testament to the acceptance and enjoyment of this medium by drivers of motor vehicles.
Chum Ferris was usually presented with a new model as they came off the production line. The M224 & M189A were most likely acquired in this manner. Most of the items that Chum accumulated in this way were given away to colleagues and friends over the years, these items remained with Chum.