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Central Electronics Toys with Citizen Band

In late 1960, Zenith felt that Central should consider building a line of inexpensive transceivers to capitalize on the budding Citizens Band radio service. 11 meters had been “confiscated” by the FCC and fashioned into the new Citizens Band, however, many hams and more to the point two big hams, Wes and Joe, were thoroughly non-plussed by Zenith’s idea of market diversification. If I ever wanted to get a profanity-laced rise out of either, as recent as a month ago with Wes, all it took was the mere mention of CE and CB in the same breath.

Yet, in spite of those misgivings a study was made of then-available Citizen Band radios to see how they stacked up relative to each other. The report was prepared by George Ryan, one of many Zenith staff members transferred to Central. Apparently George was not particularly impressed with the products available at the time. Then again those impressions carried an inordinately a heavy bias as virtually all CE designers and technical staff members viewed CB as The Enemy…more so than merely Amateur AM. AM was just a technology, whereas CB was a spectrum thief!

Central actually developed a Citizen Band prototype, according to both Wes and Joe, but it never was authorized for production. Had one materialized, its sales volume may have been strong enough for Zenith to sustain amateur radio production a bit longer and perhaps market a viable 100R Receiver. Surely if Wes had understood how close Zenith was to pulling the CE plug, he and Joe would have had a more open minded with respect to Citizen Band. That decision came out of the blue, with no clear warning, and left two very talented guys with their heads spinning and four years of their whirlwind professional lives suddenly over.

© 2012 Central Electronics