1920 KDKA “Pittsburgh” RC Radio With Moorhead Tubes * Westinghouse Electric
No Sales Tax If Shipped Outside North Carolina.
On November 2, 1920, Westinghouse’s KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh PA went on the air with a broadcast of that day’s national election results, as they were coming in from the polls. It was the world’s first commercial broadcast, and the engineer behind it, Frank Conrad, had been instrumental as well in the development of Westinghouse’s RA tuner & DA detector amplifier, sold together — in a single cabinet — as the RC Radio Receiving Set.
The RC Radio Receiving Set — the first complete radio designed explicitly for commercial broadcast reception — was manufactured in Pittsburgh later that month and introduced by Westinghouse just in time for the 1920 Christmas season.
Only 450 RC’s were produced in Pittsburgh before production was moved to Massachusetts. These earliest sets are easily distinguished by design features that were abandoned in later versions of the RA and DA as the company sought to speed up production and lower costs. The cabinets on these early RC’s used counter-sunk screws, the 1 amp wire-wound rheostats in the DA are enormous, the binding posts have knurled bakelite heads and thread into female rods on the back of the radio, separated by cylindrical gutta percha spacers, the panels are secured to the cabinets with screws that thread into billet steel corners — it was an expensive debut, and the design evolved quickly. By spring of 1921, all of these features were gone.
Condition of this early RC is very good throughout. The connecting strips on the back of the radio are replacements (replicated using originals as models), but the radio is otherwise original throughout. Wiring is straight and correct. Both audio transformers are original; both rheostats are original; all binding post parts are original (except for the aforementioned connectors). Tuner is clean and still tightly wound, cabinet finish is original with scattered scrapes and marks consistent with age and authenticity. All four feet on the underside of the cabinet are original. All three Moorhead valves have open filaments, and both transformers have open windings. Accordingly the radio is being offered for historical purposes only, with no assurances stated or implied that it’s still suitable for broadcast reception.