America's Oldest Radio Manufacturer
Howard's reputation for quality earned it a place as one of the finest radio makers of all time.
Founded in 1918, Howard got it start manufacturing radio parts several years before the first commercial radio broadcast. It quickly earned a reputation for quality.
Advertisement from Wireless Age, January 1924
Howard manufactured its first fully assembled radio receiver in 1920, and in 1924 it became one of the original fourteen licensees of Dr. Luis Alan Hazeltine's tuned radio frequency (TRF) patent. The Howard 5-Tube Neutrodyne was released later that year, propelling Howard to prominence.
Howard's early accomplishments in radio production came at an exciting time. Chicago's first commercial station - Westinghouse's KYW - was licensed in 1921 and began by broadcasting performances by the Chicago Opera Company. The first baseball game was broadcast over the radio in August 1921, and in March 1922, Variety claimed that one million radio sets were in use across the country. By the mid-1920s, the golden age of radio was in full swing.
As radio began to appeal to a larger audience, Howard maintained its focus on quality and craftsmanship even if it meant selling fewer radios than its mass-market peers. As described in Radio Retailer and Jobber in 1927, "Howard deliberately makes a limited number of sets...fashions each one individually, as a laboratory job, and lets it go at that."
Along with other radio manufacturers like Zenith, Admiral, and Galvin (Motorola), Howard helped elevate Chicago as the worldwide hub of radio manufacturing. By the end of 1920s, about one-third of all radios in the U.S. were manufactured in Chicago, and the industry employed around 12,000 people in the Chicago area alone.
After a brief relocation to a Michigan piano factory during the Great Depression, Howard returned to Chicago in 1934. It was during the late 1930s that Howard produced some its most iconic sets as part of its "Green Diamond" line.
During World War II, Howard halted production of consumer radios in order to manufacture communications equipment for the United States armed forces.
After the war, Howard resumed production of consumer radios, including some sets that were radio / phonograph combinations. With the advent of television, however, the radio manufacturing industry was shrinking, and Howard produced its last set of the twentieth century in 1949 or 1950.
Today, we're building on the legacy that Howard left behind. Our mission is simple: to build quality radios, handcrafted in Chicago.