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The story of the Radio Hat, 1949



In 1949, Viktor Hoflich held a press conference to introduce "Man from Mars, Radio Hat". Hoflich knew a picture would tell a story, so he had several teenagers modeling Radio Hats for journalists and photographers. Soon photographs and news began appearing in newspapers from coast to coast. The articles usually included a picture of a young woman wearing a hat and a six-paragraph story.

Although Radio Hat had a futuristic look at the time, it was actually due to technical limitations. While the transistor was invented in 1947, it was still experimental and not widely available. Hat's radio relied on vacuum tube technology, and Hoflich made the tubes a key feature as well as loop aerials. The tuning knob sat between the two valves. The battery was placed in the user's pocket.

The Radio Hat was sold in department stores and by mail order. A Van Nuys, California service station chain sold the hats as a promotional item to customers buying petrol. The Radio Hat sold for $7.95. Designed after a pith helmet, it can be ordered in eight colors: Lipstick Red, Canary Yellow, Blush Pink, Rose Pink, Tangerine, Flamingo, Chartreuse, and Tan. Seven more color options were added later.

Mass promotion did not lead to lasting sales. Radio Hat's commercials ceased in the early 1950s. Its failure was mainly due to technical limitations. It only had two valves, whereas home radios had five or six, and thus, performed better. The loop antenna was directional and the signal could be lost when the user turned his head. Radio Hat had an advertised range of 20 miles; Sometimes when tuning, this would move the stations further away, but these would be received as an annoying squeak, as the cap didn't have the necessary circuitry. In a 1956 interview, Hoflich stated that the company still received orders for the cap, even though it had gone out of production.






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