The history of consumer electronics goes back to the early 20th century, most precisely the 1920s. It was then when radio broadcasting incorporated the first major consumer product that went to mass production: The broadcast receiver.
Manufacturers were overwhelmed by the demand for receivers. Existing units in dealers were sold out while customers lined up to complete order forms. The craziness for consumer electronics had just began.
The phonograph, invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 didn't use electronics until 1927. Since its invention–and for 50 years– only mechanical technologies were used to make it work.
Bell Labs invented the transistor in 1947, which led to important research in the field of solid-state semiconductors just a few years later in the early 1950s. This was, indeed, the decade when the television gained popularity.
Soon after that, the market received products included telephones, personal computers, audio equipment, televisions, calculators, and eventually MP3 players and smartphones.
The demand for consumer electronics hasn't stopped. On the contrary, it increases year after year. In 2015, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), a standards and trade organization for the consumer electronics industry in the United States, estimated the value of consumer electronics sales at $220 billion.
That's for a reason. The world of electronics fascinates many around the world. Electronics engineers, researchers, collectors, and historians of vintage electronics, technology journalists, and anyone with a passion for learning about the evolution of electronics can hardly resist the attraction of vintage electronics. So, electronics museums were created.
One private museum run by a single person housed an incredible over 10,000 artifacts. Unfortunately, after the passing of its owner, Enrico Tedeschi, the exhibition was shut down.
A life devoted to researching, collecting, & cataloguing electronics
Enrico Tedeschi was an Italian-born independent computer software professional, historian, writer, and passionate private collector of electronics for over half a century. He lived in Brighton, England, where he created his private museum offering personally guided private tours, until his passing in 2014 at the age of 74. Born in 1939, Tedeschi moved his collection from his first Radio Museum in Rome to England in 1993.
Unfortunately, after Tedeschi's passing, his son, Richard, had to sell all his father's artifacts, which are now in the hands of collectors around the world. However, Tedeschi's self-published books for collectors and historians of vintage electronics, The Sinclair Archeology published in February 1996, and The Magic of Sony remain as Tedeschi's legacy.
“Collecting should not be just amassing the largest possible number of artifacts and memorabilia but also and mainly for the research and understanding of how, when, why, and who invented and produced what, and the social impact and consequences that these products had on the life of millions of people. Collecting should be a way of learning, growing, and self-improvement, and not just a hobby, or an investment,” Enrico Tedeschi wrote in the Introduction of his 1999 self-published book, The Magic of Sony.
Though this slideshow, I have tried to recreate a tiny part of Enrico Tedeschi's work as a small recognition to his passionate and valuable work collecting and cataloguing electronics for most of his life. Tedeschi loved and valued electronics beyond their practical use. In good part, this was the message he wished to pass on while sharing his collection
Click on the image below to start the slideshow of his work. All photos are courtesy of Richard Tedeschi.
The Evening Argus newspaper in Brighton & Hove welcomes the opening of Tedeschi's Museum of Vintage Electronics on October 30th, 1993.
What would you preserve if you were the curator of your own tech museum? Let us know in the comments section below.