Donald and Morag MacLean listening to a crystal set

Photograph of Donald and Morag MacLean listening to a crystal set in 1920.


Courtesy of Mrs Flora MacKinnon

Donald and Morag MacLean from Balevullin are listening with headphones to a crystal set at their uncle’s house on Paisley Road West in Glasgow in 1920. The set, which can be seen on the chest of drawers behind them, is the simplest type of radio receiver in existence. Requiring no external power, such apparatus was in widespread use in the early days of radio.

The set consisted of an aerial attached to a coil of wire, a crystal fixed in a brass cup and the ‘cat’s whisker’, a thin wire which the operator touched to various points on the surface of the crystal to find the loudest signal.

Because there was no electrical amplification, earphones were required and there was no way to control the audio volume. Different stations could be found by moving a slider along the coil, but in the 1920s the choice was very limited.

Black and white photograph of Donald and Morag MacLean in 1920.

Donald and Morag MacLean listening to a crystal radio set in 1920.

Object Details

Other Number: U52
Normal Location: Office Shelves: For Return box
Current Location: normal location

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