Electrodynamic radio speaker
Made of brown bakelite with gold coloured loudspeaker cloth. Low impedance system with matching transformer for use with high impedance radios. Loudspeaker: Magnavox 254. DC model: 144, AC model 144B.
Made in 1932
Purchased in 2005
Sold in 2023
Dimensions (w h d) 29 x 33,5 x 13 cm
Serial number 3656

What was broadcast in 1932?


Listen to "Pickin' My Way" by Eddie Lang and Carl Kress, guitar, recorded in 1932

Magnavox 254 loudspeaker

Company history

Peter L. Jensen, one of the founders of Magnavox Company, was born in 1886 in Denmark. He began working in the laboratory of Valdemar Poulsen soon after Poulsen's public demonstration of the "telegraphone" at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. Jensen helped Poulsen develop his continuous wave arc transmitter that made voice transmissions from a radio station at Lyngby near Copenhagen in 1905. Jensen came to America in 1909. He met Edwin S. Pridham who had an electrical engineering degree from Stanford and was working for the Elwell Company. Jensen and Pridham moved to Napa Feb. 22, 1911, and began a small research laboratory. They experimented with an arc radio transmitter, adding thicker wires connected to a diaphragm, and putting a coil of copper wire between magnets. They made a working model of what they called the "electro-dynamic principle" for voice reproduction, and applied for a patent. However, the patent application was rejected because the magnetic coil principle was already well-known. They were granted a patent on their specific mechanism, but were unable to attract interest from the big companies such as AT&T, Victor, or Columbia. At the suggestion of Jensen's wife's uncle, they decided to put an old gooseneck horn from an Edison phonograph on their device and sell it as a public address system. They called it a "Magnavox" (Latin for "loud voice") rather than a loudspeaker and by 1915 had made improvements. They made their first public demonstration in Golden Gate Park Dec. 10, 1915 and another Dec. 25 playing music in front of San Francisco City Hall to a crowd of 100,000. Jensen and Pridham formed the Magnavox Company in San Francisco Aug. 3, 1917. In World War I, the company developed anti-noise and waterproof telephones for the military. In 1919, they provided loudspeakers for a speech by President Woodrow Wilson in San Diego, and Magnavox gained national attention. But AT&T dominated public address system technology, and Magnavox shifted its focus to radio and phonographs. Jensen left the company in 1925 and founded the Jensen Radio Manufacturing Co. in 1927, moved it to Chicago, and made improved loudspeakers with the help of engineer Hugh Knowles. He resigned in 1943 and later founded Jensen Industries. He died of lung cancer in 1961.

The Magnavox logo on the back of the loudspeaker

Advertisement in Swedish magazine Populr Radio , December 15, 1932

This page was last edited on 17.12.2023