The console radio was the center piece of every house back in the era of radio, they were big and expensive running up to $700 back in the late 1930s. Mostly for the wealthy, these radios were placed in hallways and living rooms. Most console radios were waist high and not very wide, as the years went on they got shorter and wider. Most consumer console radios were made by RCA, Philco, General Electric, Montgomery Ward (under the Airline brand name), Sears (under the Silvertone brand name), Westinghouse, radio-bar and many more. Brands such as Zenith, Scott, Atwater-Kent, were mainly for the rich as their prices ran into the $500-$800 range in the 1930s and 1940s.
Table top wood radios
Table top radios came in many forms:
# "Cathedral style", an upright rectangular box with a rounded top
# "Tombstone style" were rectangular boxes that were tall and narrow like a tombstone
# "Table top" were rectangular, with width being the larger dimension. Table top radios were usually placed in the kitchen, sitting room or bedroom, and sometimes used out on the porch
The availability of the first mass produced plastic Bakelite allowed designers much more creativity in cabinet styling, and significantly reduced costs. However, Bakelite is a brittle plastic, and dropping a radio could easily break the case. Bakelite is a brown-black mouldable thermosetting plastic, and is still used in some products today.
The affordability of more modern light coloured thermoplastics in the 1950s made brighter designs practical. Some of these thermoplastics are slightly translucent.
Early transistor radios
The invention of the transistor made it possible to produce small portable radios that did not need a warm-up time, and ran on much smaller batteries. They were convenient and chic, though the prices were high and the sound quality not so good
Pre-war car radios were experimental only. They required a large aerial, reception was inconsistent, they required adjustment in use, which was not very practical. And they were of course not the most useful place to put an expensive radio.