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Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

 
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Early Television Museum

Pilot Radio Corp. History

A brief history of Pilot Radio Corp., courtesy of Nat Pendleton

The Pilot Radio Corp. was founded by Isidor Goldberg. He was born in Manhattan, New York, in 1893 and graduated from Hebrew Technical Institute in Mechanical Arts in 1908. From 1910-1914, Isidor Goldberg was a test pilot for Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation and Curtiss Airways. Afterwards he sold aeronautical supplies and model airplanes. In 1915 Goldberg was granted a U.S. patent for his invention of an emergency lamp.

In 1919, Isidor Goldberg founded Pilot Electric Manufacturing Co. in Brooklyn, New York, to manufacture parts and kits for home radios. In 1930 a second plant was established in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The name of the company was later changed to Pilot Radio and Tube Corp. and, in 1932, to Pilot Radio Corp. By 1936 Pilot products were being sold in more than 90 countries. In the late 1940s and early 1950s plants were built in Britain (prior to World War II), South Africa (by 1953), and Israel (in 1947). All three plants were sold in 1959. Goldberg was president of the company from its inception until his death in 1961. 

As president of Pilot Radio Corp., Isidor Goldberg was a leader in developing and introducing new products and new uses for communications equipment. The company was the first to introduce a civilian short wave radio (WASP, 1925) and a battery-powered, portable radio (1937). In 1930, he also developed long distance ground-to-air communications with his "flying laboratory".

In 1937, Pilot introduced the first "popular-priced" FM tuner (Pilotuner). In the same year, the company produced ready-made TVs. Ten years later Pilot marketed the first miniature (portable) TV receiver (Candid TV). 

During World War II, Pilot Radio Corp. produced communications equipment for the war effort and in 1945 won the prestigious Army Navy "E" Award for excellence in production of war equipment. 

Pilot Radio Corp first introduced its high fidelity (Hi-Fi) product line in 1952. In the early years, the company worked closely with RCA. The production of products was handling by Pilot itself and the design work was handled by RCA. Most of the early hi-fi products of Pilot were licensed by RCA. However, Pilot slowly took over the product development in the late 50'. 

No question that Pilot Radio Corp was one of the most successful hi-fi brands during the golden years of hi-fi and the company was focusing on the affordable and reliable hi-fi products. Pilot produced various hi-fi products, including power amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, integrated amplifiers, receivers, AM and FM tuners, speakers and audio consoles. Consumer Report magazine in 1954 rated Pilot AA-903 as one of the best buy amplifiers of the year and most of the Pilot's products were also highly rated by audiophiles during the 1950s and 60s. Many audiophiles believe that Pilot Radio Corp affected the development of Marantz, because the engineers from Marantz, such as Sid Smith and Dick Sequerra, also worked for Pilot Radio Corp before they worked for Saul Marantz. 

Pilot's hi-fi products were slowly turned out of the market during the 70's because of heavy competition from low price Japanese hi-fi products. However, the Pilotone Radio and hi-fi gear are still highly rated by vintage audiophiles today.