Regency ATC-1 Converter

Posted on Feb 4, 2014

The 1956 Regency ATC-1 converter heralded the dawn of a new era for amateur radio. The little converter had only two transistors - one PNP, one NPN, both germanium, both now long obsolete - but they were the start of a revolution. Amateurs responding to the Regency advertisement in the August 1956 issue of CQ Magazine thought they were merely bu

Regency ATC-1 Converter
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ying a novel mobile converter. In truth, for $79. 50, they were buying a seminal piece of ham radio history. Regency Electronics was the brainchild of former RCA employees, Joe Weaver and John Pies. The parent company, Industrial Development Engineering Associates (I. D. E. A), was incorporated in 1947, the same year Bell Labs scientists Shockley, Bardeen and Brattain invented the transistor. In October, 1954, Regency brought to market the world`s first transistor radio, the TR-1, and less than two years later, the world`s first transistor amateur product, the ATC-1 converter. Unbeknownst to all, this inauspicious little device signaled for amateur radio the beginning of the end of the vacuum tube`s long and glorious reign. The ATC-1 was intended to fill a niche market for mobile operators. When Regency introduced its new converter in 1956, most hams used dedicated receivers in their vehicles, the Multi-Elmac PMR-7, the Morrow MBR-5, and the Gonset G-66 being popular mobile receivers of the day. Other companies` mobile HF converters, such as the Gonset "tri-band Converter" had never been big sellers, primarily because their vacuum tube designs offered little space savings over full-blown receivers. Furthermore, like all mobile receivers, vacuum tube converters required an external power supply. Regency obviously hoped that the diminuative, battery-powered ATC-1 would reverse this record. Powered by three AA penlight cells,...

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