This magnificent RCA model 128 radio of the tombstone genre
was introduced in late 1934 for the 1934/35 model season. I
categorize it as a tombstone but often feel it to be at the center
of an identity crisis, as it could equally well be regarded as a
cathedral model! Be that as it may, it's a three-band all-wave
super-het having six tubes and an original 1934 purchase
price of $69.95.
In my albeit humble judgement, this is a simply gorgeous radio.
The large, softly lit circular dial is set between the graceful
lines of the arches above and the control knobs below. The
fluted side pilasters conjure an impression of strength,
reminiscent of the Gothic buttresses so often echoed in the
styling of depression era radios. The highly figured
book-matched walnut veneer, herringbone grille-cloth and
vertical grille bars together complete this radio's rich and
The model 128 was one of a group of luxury models new for
the 1934/35 season that debuted RCA's so-called "magic
brain". This innovation was described in the company's
advertising as "...the almost human unit that directs your
radio reception just like your own brain directs your body".
In fact, the 'magic brain' is that part of the circuit comprising
the tuned RF amplifier, local oscillator and mixer. It is of note
that RCA would go on to introduce the "magic eye" in the
1935/36 season, the "magic voice" for 1936/37 and the "magic
loop" around 1940.
The 128's tube line-up is 6D6 (RF amp), 6A7 (mixer/LO), 6D6
(IF amp), 6B7 (2nd det/AVC/1st AF), 42 (AF output) and 80
rectifier. The schematic is available here, courtesy
The 128 has a big brother from the same model year in the
form of the 143, which features an upgraded eight-tube
chassis and an even larger round-topped cabinet. RCA also
manufactured the contemporaneous M61 shouldered
tombstone for GE. It uses the same chassis as the 128, cost
the same amount and the physical similarity of the two is
readily apparent. However the 128 is the nicer looking of the
RCA Model 128 Shouldered Tombstone Radio (1934)
RCA Magic Brain.. brings you more foreign and domestic stations than
|"Inside RCA Victor all-wave sets is
an uncanny governing unit - shown
here as part of the regular circuit
and tubes. Human in its thinking, we
compare it to the human brain. You
choose the broadcast - from no
matter where in the whole world.
Then, watchman-like, it keeps out
undesired radio signals. It
concentrates on that one and makes
it four times stronger. Each tone has
higher-fidelity...in a quality of
reception heretofore unequalled"
|"Model 128. A six-tube three-band (540-18,000kc)
Super-Heterodyne Globe-Trotter with eight inch
Dynamic speaker, Airplane dial, Dual Ratio Vernier
Tuning, Band Indicator, Automatic-Volume-Control, Tone
Control and 3.5Watts output. In beautiful table-type
cabinet finished in two-tone walnut. 20" high, 163/4"
wide, 111/2" deep"
Model 128... a six tube, three-band superheterodyne Globe Trotter.
|"..in RCA Victor all-wave radios you get that new miracle of
science - the "Magic Brain"..."
"Hear each and every tone with higher fidelity...reach far
more stations...tune in round the globe easier...more
"If you could hear what the "magic brain" does for tone! It
lifts up, elevates, in magician fashion each note...from tiniest
treble to deepest bass. You thrill to the core as the music
sweeps in..utterly true, rich. That's the type of sound
reproduction - "higher fidelity" that RCA Victor now delivers
extracts from various 1934/35 newspaper ads featuring the RCA 128