Over the past 97 years, “entertainment systems” in cars have evolved from primitive 6-volt dry-cell AM radios to high-tech Bluetooth units. It is interesting to take a look back to see how technology has changed over the years.
Here is a brief, illustrated chronology of these devices:
1922: First radio in a Car
The first radio (“Marconiphone”) appeared in a Daimler car at the Olympia Motorshow in England.
1927: First Radio in Mass-Produced Car
The “Transitone” radio appeared in a mass-produced car.
1930: First Commercially Successful Radio
The Galvin brothers’ expensive $130 unit (a Model A Deluxe coupe cost $540) was the first commercially successful car radio, and the first product to wear the Motorola name.
1952: First FM Radio
AM was the undisputed king of the airwaves in 1952, but that didn’t stop Blaupunkt from introducing the first in-car FM radio.
1953: Becker Mexico Introduced
Becker’s iconic Mexico radio launched this year, arguably the first premium in-car radio. It had AM/FM and the first fully automatic station-search button.
1955: First “Music On Demand”
In 1955, Chrysler offered a small 45-rpm turntable (manufactured by Columbia) in its high-end cars. The technology, however, could not overcome uneven road conditions and the record players were scrapped by the following year.
1963: First All-Transistor Radio
A number of manufacturers introduced transistors to their aftermarket car radios in the early 1960s, but Becker’s Monte Carlo was the first to be fully “solid state”- no vacuum tubes.
1965: First Eight-Track Tape Player
Predecessor to the cassette, the eight-track cartridge was a loser from the start and was dead by the early ’80s. Ford and Motorola jointly introduced in-car eight-track players this year.
1969: First Stereo
Becker’s Europa was the first in-car stereo setup, with the tuner amplifying two channels instead of one.
1970–1977: Cassette-Tape Players
The rollout of cassettes allowed for one of mankind’s greatest achievements: the mix tape. This development also heralded the creation of branded aftermarket cassette-tape players from Alpine and Pioneer, among others.
1982: Bose Becomes First Premium Stereo System
Bose and GM’s Delco teamed up to offer the first “designer” stereo system. Bose sank money into car-specific development; rather than just producing an expensive head unit, it was marketing the entire system to Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac shoppers.
1985: First Factory-Installed In-Dash CD Player
While Sony had introduced an in-dash player the previous year, Becker’s Mexico Compact Disc was the first to be factory installed (in Benzes, of course).
2004: First Bluetooth Technology
Bluetooth technology was first installed in expensive BMW, Lexus and Chrysler cars. Within four years, it started to appear in lesser models, like the Nissan Sentra, Ford Focus and Honda Civic. Now, this amazing technology is standard equipment in most cars. It uses your mobile phone or an MP3 player to stream music through your car stereo.
Here is an illustrated timeline of all the automotive entertainment devices:
New Challengers come with the latest technology- either UCONNECT 4 (7-inch) or UCONNECT 4C (8.4 inch) Touchscreens. The entertainment system features Bluetooth Streaming Audio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, USB Port and an Auxiliary Input Jack.