What Is the Top-Selling Personal Electronic Device of All Time?

The answer may surprise you

Today, everybody you see seems to be staring at a mobile phone. About 15 years ago, every adult you saw was poking away at a Blackberry and every kid you saw was listening to music on an iPad or other portable music player.

If you think back, you will recall the Palm Pilot, Sony Walkman, and lots of other personal electronic devices that occupied the spotlight for a while before being replaced by something else. And guess what? Each of those devices contained small quantities of gold, silver and non-precious metals too.

But What Was the Top-Selling Personal Electronic Device of All Time?

We have to admit that the mobile phone can claim that honor, mostly due to the fact that they are used in every part of the world, not only in the U.S. And according to some counts, about one billion new cellphones are now being made every year.

You probably knew that the mobile phone is the top-selling personal electronic device of all time. But you might not know that, according to many estimates, the transistor radio occupies second place. That’s right . . . the lowly transistor radio, possibly just like one you have gathering dust in your dresser drawer.

The Transistor Radio Exploded on the Scene in 1954

That was the year when Texas Instruments – that’s right, TI – began to sell what was probably the first transistor radio, called the TR-1. In only its first year, about 100,000 units were sold, which caused Japanese companies like Sony and Sharp to introduce their own models. How many transistor radios have been manufactured since then? According to “TI announces 1st transistor radio, October 18, 1954,” an article that Suzanne Deffree wrote for the EDN Network on October 18, 2018, more than seven billion transistor radios have been manufactured since 1954. That is a staggering statistic. It means that transistor radio production has only recently been exceeded by mobile phone production.

Why were transistor radios so wildly popular? For one thing, they represented one of the first instances of the immediate downsizing of an already-familiar electronic device, the radio. Everybody had a radio in their home, most often a large box-shaped device that took up most of a shelf or a countertop. As soon as the first pocket-sized transistor radios appeared, they caused a sensation, as in “This amazing device does everything our kitchen radio does, but it’s tiny.” People could take a transistor radio to the beach. Kids could take one to bed with them and listen to rock and roll music when their parents weren’t watching.

In many ways, it was a parallel development to the invention of the cellphone – a small portable device had just replaced a larger, familiar one. And like the transistor radio, the cellphone changed our world.

How Much Recyclable Gold Is in a Transistor Radio?

The average transistor radio contains about the same amount of gold – much less than a penny’s worth – that you will find in a modern cellphone.

Is that discouraging for precious metal investors? Maybe. But let’s not forget some of the statistics we have touched on in today’s post, which tell us that seven billion transistor radios have been manufactured. We don’t know how many of them are still in existence, but common sense tells us that there must still be billions of them out there waiting to be claimed by people who like to invest in gold. And then there’s that other statistic, that a billion cellphones are being made every year.

If you can capture only a tiny trickle of those devices, you can make money by recycling gold. And then there are plenty of other small electronic devices to look out for too, including . . .

  • Remote controls

  • Personal digital assistants

  • Gaming devices

  • Personal music players

And of course . . . transistor radios! Whatever you have, call us at 800-426-2344 so we can explain how to turn dusty old electronic devices into bright new cash.

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