Philco Model 80B "Junior" Cathedral Radio (1932/33)
The Philco model 80 Baby Grand (80B) was released
in September of 1932 as the price leader in the comp-
any's 1932/1933 line-up. As with several of their entry-
level models that had preceded it, it was nicknamed the
"Junior". The set was priced very aggressively, at
$18.75, complete with tubes and applicable sales taxes,
making it one of the least expensive sets on the market.
The 80B was a bare bones set offered at rock-bottom
price. Philco was criticized in the industry for its pricing
and accused of risking the start of a ruinous price war.
However their intentions were perhaps mis-understood,
as their goal in releasing the Jnr was for it to draw pot-
ential buyers into stores, whereupon they might be en-
ticed into buying more expensive sets, offering more
features. In other words, it was intended to serve as a
"sell-up" model rather than to be sold in large numb-
ers. However, the plan backfired, as the 80B became
a bestseller in its own right, eventually selling almost
200,000 units*. Such was the state of people's finances
during the Depression. Seeing the success of the 80B,
other manufacturers soon followed suit (see my RCA
R28 page here for an example). A Nov 1932 article en-
titled The Under $20 Price Level, presenting opinions
on the controversy, is shown below, along with Philco's
In January of 1933 Philco introduced the model 81B, a
two-band version of the 80B, priced at the 80B level of
$18.75. Adding salt to the wounds left by the 80B, they
cut the price of remaining 80B inventory to ~$15 at that
time (see Mar 1933 ad lower right)!
The 80B's pricing was facilitated in part by the use of a
new two-toned cabinet that was a simplification of the
Clyde Shuler design in use at the time for the 71B and
91B models. Moreover, although the chassis was an ac-
powered superheterodyne, it too was very much design-
ed down to a cost. Philco had eliminated the IF stage,
leaving it with just four tubes and, like the low-cost mod-
els that preceded it, it had no AVC or tone control. The
engineers made up for the lack of an IF stage, to some
extent, by adding regeneration to the second detector.
Regeneration had been exploited extensively in the
early days of radio and involved coupling the output of
a tube back to its input in such a manner that the sig-
nal would again be amplified, fed back to the input, and
so on, around and around. The process was controlled
to stop just short of oscillation, at which point exception-
ally high amplification was achieved.
The model 80B used four of the newly introduced high-
efficiency 6.3V tube types, with line-up:- 36 (autodyne-
type oscillator/mixer), 36 (leaky-grid 2nd detector, with
regeneration), 42 (AF output pentode) and 80 (rect-
The type 36 was a new 6.3V sharp cutoff screen-grid
tube very similar to the 2.5V 24/24A tetrode that it re-
placed in the Philco line-up. Furthermore, the 80B was
one of the first Philco sets to use the new type 42 - the
first power pentode to be indirectly heated at 6.3V ac
and the first to use cylindrical electrode construction. It
would be extensively used by Philco for a number of
years, until their switch to mostly Octal types in 1937.
* source: philcoradio.com
Below: Report from Radio Retailing Nov 1932 giving
two sides of the debate that raged over Philco's sales
philosophy for the 80B Jnr. Letter from Philco published
in Jan 1933 Radio Retailing, responding to the report.
..splendid performance at a price that revolutionizes the whole world of
|" What's the Score! Tune in with Philco Junior. It brings you the great
Fall Broadcasts - football and election news"
"New balanced superheterodyne with fine tone, surprising distance -
"the tone of Philco Jr. is superb. Its selectivity and dis- tance is
surprising. Here's a balanced Superheterodyne with genuine
Electro-dynamic Speaker, illuminated station dial, New Philco
High-Efficiency tubes - truly a radio which proudly bears the name of
Philco. And it's in a Baby Grand cabinet of unusual beauty and graceful
...only Philco could offer so much for so little.
Sep 28th 1932, Ohio
Mar 2nd 1933, Wisconsin.
80B price cut & 81B pricing.
Radio Retailing, Nov 1932.