# Oral-History:Norman B. Krim (1984)

Norman B. Krim, a 1934 MIT graduate in electrical engineering, was influential in the development of transistor radio technologies. During a lengthy career at Raytheon, Krim oversaw tubes and semiconductors, served as Vice President, and performed as Raytheon corporate archivist. Krim was also president of Radio Shack from 1961 to 1963 and served as president of the Joseph Pollak Corporation before his retirement.

This interview, conducted by Michael Wolff as preparation for an IEEE Spectrum article on the Regency Radio, focuses on the development and sales of Raytheon's transistor radio during the 1950s. Krim provides a comparison of Raytheon's radio and the competitor Regency pocket radio product, released within months of one another.

NORMAN B. KRIM: An Interview Conducted by Michael Wolff, IEEE History Center, 11 December 1984

Interview #464 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

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Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, IEEE History Center, 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854 USA or ieee-history@ieee.org. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Norman B. Krim, an oral history conducted in 1984 by Michael Wolff, IEEE History Center, Piscataway, NJ, USA.

## Interview

INTERVIEW: Norman B. Krim

INTERVIEWER: Michael Wolff

DATE: 11 December 1984

PLACE: Telephone Interview

Wolff:

You are now the retired president of a corporation.

Krim:

Yes, the Joseph Pollak Corporation.

Wolff:

In 1954 you were at Raytheon.

Krim:

Vice president at Raytheon, handling tubes and semiconductors.

### Transistors and transistorized radios at Raytheon

Wolff:

I understand that the Regency radio came out just a few months before yours.

Krim:

Correct. We had an operation in Chicago called Belmont Radio Corporation, which was a subsidiary of Raytheon. They came out with a transistorized radio. I was in charge of making transistors at Raytheon at the time. That was one of the five divisions that I ran. Raytheon, from 1951 until about the end of '55, made over 50% of all the transistors in the world. That included the development of transistors for the transistorized radio that was made at Belmont Radio Corp. in Chicago. It was headed by Henry F. Argento at that time who was president and general manager of Belmont.

Wolff:

These were germanium transistors.

Krim:

That's right. As I recall, it was a six-transistor radio with a push-pull output stage.

Wolff:

I'm looking at a Business Week article from February '55. It said, "Within the next two months Raytheon's radio and TV operations will break out with an eight-transistor portable selling for $79.95." Krim: That might have been the second model. I think I still have one of the original transistor radios at home someplace, and I believe it is still operating. It ran on D batteries, something like four D cells. Wolff: Do you recall how many of them you sold? Krim: Audio File MP3 Audio (464 - krim - clip 1.mp3) I was making the transistors and Argento was making the radios, so my figures are very vague. If you are interested in reaching him, he might have a story. He is on the board of directors of Sanders Associates up in Nashua, New Hampshire. If I had to make a rough guess – and this is very rough – it could have been on the order of several tens of thousands. I can't tie the time in exactly, but Henry might remember that. He was running Belmont, which at that time made most of the radios for Montgomery Ward, Western Auto, Federated and associate department stores. They had a big private label business. Wolff: I see. Krim: At that time they were doing about$40 million or \$50 million a year. They were a major factor in the business.

### Mass production of junction transistors, radios

Wolff:

Do you recall when they started to work on the radio?

Krim:

Yes. I built the first radios. At that time the semiconductor operation of Raytheon was located in Newton, Massachusetts. I had begun to make transistors in mass production in 1951. We were the first company in the world to make junction transistors in mass production. They were originally for hearing aids, and then we brought out a line of germanium transistors for radios. Argento picked them up, and we sold those to other companies also.

Wolff:

Krim:

We built the original radios in our lab at Chapel Street. We had an application lab with maybe half a dozen engineers.

Wolff:

Do you recall how long you had been working on them when Regency came out with theirs?

Krim:

I don't remember the exact dates, but I know it was very close. We were within months of each other. The Regency radio was a four-transistor radio and was kind of a pocket radio. The first radio we made in our labs was a six-transistor with a pretty good push-pull output. It was standard circuitry. It was a superheterodyne with a couple of IF stages as I recall. Oscillator mixer, a couple of IF and in the audio we ended up with a couple of stages of push-pull. It was a more powerful radio than the Regency.

Wolff:

It was more a portable radio rather than one you could put in your pocket?

Krim:

Right. It was a portable. I used the one I still have around the house for about five or eight years after that and it was still operating.

Wolff:

How did people feel when Regency came out with theirs?

Krim:

It was a competitive situation - we had been approached before then. Radio Shack was in Boston at the time, and they were able to get radios from Japan but they couldn't get transistors at all. Maybe that occurred a year or two later. They were after me for transistors. I later became president of Radio Shack from '61 to '63. We had a close relationship, but I'm not sure of the dates.

Wolff:

When you heard that Regency had beaten you to it with this pocket radio were people disappointed?

Krim:

We had plenty of sales for the radio, so it wasn't a great disappointment at the time. It looked like the field was going to grow very rapidly, so it appeared that there would be room for quite a few competitors. Argento might have some other comments because he was the guy that tooled up for this radio, so he took the chance on that end of it.

Wolff:

Good. Okay. Well, I appreciate this. This is very helpful, and I think I will try to get hold of Argento.

Krim:

Yes.

Wolff:

Thanks very much for your help here.

### Wolff's IEEE Spectrum article

Krim:

Wolff:

Yes.

Krim:

What will the title of the article be, or what do you plan to cover?

Wolff:

Krim:

You're doing a story on the Regency radio.

Wolff:

Yes. When I heard that this was so close I thought I ought to find out a little more about it from Raytheon's perspective.

Krim:

I'm curious how you got my name.

Wolff:

Gunther Rudenberg.

Krim:

He worked for me in the research division of R&D at Raytheon.

Wolff:

Yes. I asked him whom he would suggest I try to call from Raytheon and he gave me your name, but he didn't know you were so close to him.

Krim:

We haven't been in touch for some time. I'm a senior member of the IEEE.

Wolff:

That's how I found you. I looked you up in the IEEE directory.

Krim:

That comes in handy once every lifetime.

Wolff:

Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Krim:

I'll see if I have the radio around the house. I still may have one of the original models. If I do, I'll take a Polaroid shot of it and send it to you.

Wolff:

I'd like to see it. And tell me if it still plays.

Krim:

I will. The last time I put some batteries in it, four or five years ago, it was still doing well.

Wolff:

Great.