One month after the introduction of the first Royal 500 hand-wired radio, Zenith introduced their first portable transistor radio. It was called the Royal 800. The Royal 800 was a lunch box sized nylon cabinet portable radio that had a pop-up handle on top that also served as the antenna. The Royal 800 really packs a punch. It is powered by 8 “C” size batteries and has a large 4″ front speaker,Â seven transistors, and undistorted output of 500 milliwatts (5 times the Royal 500). The Royal 800 was a radio that was ahead of it’s time. Zenith made the Royal 800 in Black and also a scarce grey version. They sold for $89.95 and in my opinion, that was a lot of performance for the price. But the popularity of the smaller Royal 500 led to the 800’s short life and limited production. This makes them quite a find today for the collector.
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The Royal 800 was soon replaced by two leather portables in 1957; the Royal 700 and Royal 750. The change to leather was a trend that would continue as Zenith produced several other leather lunch box sized portables over the next few years.
In 1958, they introduced the first Navigator with the Royal 760.
1959 saw the Royal 675 “Independence” and the Royal 710 “Yorktown” from the Americana series, as well as the Royal 755’s.
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In 1961, the Royal 650 was introduced along with a redesigned Royal 675, 710, and yes, another Navigator; the Royal 790 Super Navigator.Â
Of all the portables Zenith made, I like the earliest ones the best because of their styling. Their grills look like they were patterned after the cars at that time.
Check out these Portable Transistors radios.
Black Royal 800
Grey Royal 800
Royal 760 Navigator
Royal 675 Independence
Royal 790 Super Navigator
Royal 880 AM/FM Portable
30 thoughts on “Portable Zeniths”
This blog is great!
good blog i like the layout
Very nice. Love this place!
Keep up the good work!
I like your site. Well done!
I’ll come by again soon.
Hi Gary, this is Michael Jack here. I met you the other day at the Lansing EXTRAVAGANZA show. I’m the transistor radio collector from north of Toronto.
As promised I am forwarding you my website link so you can check out my humble collection. http://squirl.info/collection/show/86
By the way, you site, knowledge and collection is top notch!
Nice to meet you. We’ll see you again next year!
Thank you for sharing!
HI GARY I AM HAPPY TO SEE THAT SOMEONE ELSE SHARES MY PASSION FOR OLD TRANSISTOR RADIOS.MINE IS THE CHANNEL MASTER RADIOS. I BAUGHT ONE AS A KID IN MAINE BACK IN EARLY SIXTIES. THE 6515 MODEL. I TOOK IT EVERY WHERE I WENT IT WAS MY IDENTITY. I TOOK IT INTO THE NAVY WITH ME AS WELL I STILL HAVE IT TODAY, AND I USE IT ALL THE TIME. I IS GREAT AT PICKING UP DISTANT STATIONS. I HAVE STARTED BUYING, FIXING, AND SELLING THEM ON EBAY. IF YOU WOULD LIKE I CAN FIX YOURS. I WOULD ONLY CHARGE FOR PARTS. DONT GET ME WRONG I AM NOT TRYING TO DRUM UP BUSINESS HERE, I JUST THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO HAVE THE RADIOS WORK. I HOPE YOU WILL AT LEAST ACKNOWLEDGE MY EMAIL. I ALWAYS WANTED A ZENITH TRANSOCEANIC RADIO, BUT MORE THAT I COULD AFFORD. TAKE CARE GOOD COLLECTING. LENNY WA1LCW
Again, thank you for the great 1000D.
I lived in Caracas Venzuela from 1951 to 1959 since my father worked for United Geophysical located in Pasadina, California and Venezuela had a lot of oil exploration activity in the 1950s. Around 1958 I conected my father’s Zenith Royal 500 to a long-wire antenna and pick-up stations in New York and Los Angeles, California at night. I was thrilled since I was born in Los Angeles and missed the place of my birth in 1939. Lots of reading and soldering lead to jobs as a Chief Engineer and happy retirement. Some day I would like to get my hands on a Royal 500 in good condition. Reliving your childhood is one of the nice activities of retirement. The 1000D was one of many fond memories.
Lenny, I just obtained a Channel Master AM/SW radio that I can not get to work very well. I was wondering if you would like to try your magic on it? Let me know if you are interestd and we can discuss the arrangements.
Thanks, Gary 313 310-4660
Hi, Gary. Robbay at Worthpoint suggested I contact you about a transistor radio I have. It’s a Zenith Royal 800, just like yours…same color scheme…not in as good condition as yours (which looks perfect) but mine doesn’t seem to have any major flaws, either. I haven’t tested it yet, and to be honest, besides putting batteries in it and turning it on, I’m not sure HOW to test it.
Anyway, I’ve been having a heck of a time getting a bead on what it might be worth and where the best places are to post if for sale. I’m hoping you can help.
I can send pictures, etc. if you like…and thanks in advance for your time.
Hi Gary, I just wanted to let you know that the two radios I purchased arrived on Monday morning 6/8/09 in perfect condition! I am completely satisfied with the radios, and they both work. Thank you for the good packing and the fast delivery. They only took two days to arrive! Sincerely,
i have about 6 zenith royal 500s and only my blue gray works well so i decided to get them working again. i have had them along with many other transistors for many yrs. 20 plus. well i have known norm smith for many years and i saw him at a recent radio meet here in florida and he said that he will work on them for me. isnt that a stroke of luck. norm is very knowlagable and i could listen to him talk about transistors for hrs.
I’m looking for Zenith Royal 880 knobs. Can you point me to where to get them?
Hi Bob, yes I can. Right here. I just happen to have a set (3 pieces). I will send you a picture tomorrow and if they are what you are looking for, I will add them to my products (in the spare parts section) where they can be purchased for $10.00. Hope this helps you. Gary
I have a white and brown Zenith Royal Fifteen Eight Transistor Portable Radio that works perfectly and is in amazing physical condition. It came in its black leather carrying case. Sadly, the case is quite brittle and is broken in some places and the carry handle is broken off. I can’t find another Royal 15 after a lengthy search and am wondering what this little beauty is worth. Any idea?
Hi Roger, the Royal 15 is one of the later transistors produced in Asia. While not viewed as being from the collectable era, if it is in nice condition it still is desirable. I would estimate it having a value between $35 – $60 if you have an interested party. Hope this helps. Gary
I was wondering if you had either a royal 700 or royal 750 for sale or where I could get one in good shape? I would like it to work, but I can always get it repaired. I’m looking to get one for my dad for Christmas. Thanks!
Hi Bill and thanks for the inquiry. I have a nice one that I was getting ready to list but I will send you the information on it and some pictures first. Just give me a day or two to get them prepared for you. Gary
Sorry Mary but I do not repair those. I am located near Minneapolis. Gary
Hi, just found this site researching a zenith r82 portable radio for my mother. I believe it was made around 1981. She would like to sell it. We live in upstate NY and are open to suggestions. Thanks for your time. Mike
Sorry Mike but I am not familiar with that later model. I suggest using eBay if you want to sell it.
Cannot find a link to email you directly.
Please contact me if you have an interest in a Zenith Royal 500 point of sale glass countertop display cabinet
Hi Brad. That sounds interesting. Could you please send me a pic or two to may email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Not sure if you collect the 600 series trans oceanic wave magnets, but I have an L600L series in the brown leather from 1954 that is in great working order. I was told that this is a valuable radio. What say you?
Could not say. I only know about transistor radios. Sorry
I have a Zenith Royal 500D.
Its nice and clean.
Unfortunately volume control potentiometer does not turning on.
When I shorten two contacts on the back (assume switch on function) radio comes alive and volume can be changed from low to high. Does anyone has an idea how to fix this thing, or get a replacement.
Hi from Marit in Norway! Great blog! My father Was a radio-ham from 1932 till the day he died in 1991, with the signature LA4B. He collected and repaired radios also and worked at a radio factory In the 30â€™ties and 40â€™ties.
One radio he once owned has sparked the interest in the Norwegian radio-historical society, and weâ€™re trying to find out which brand it might be..
How can i send a picture of it? We have Pics from the family’s holiday in the mountains in 1948!
It looks a lot like the Zenith tube radios with Rounded loudspeaker and skala Windows – but has the Skala and loudspeaker on the opposite side from all other radios. Have you seen this before? Could it be a test model Zenith- that never was mass produced? Or do you have other suggestions?
Very grateful for any theories!
Thank you! ðŸ‘ðŸ˜Š
Hi Marit, you can send me your picture as an attachment to an email. My address is email@example.com Gary
Would you be interested in buying another Zenith Royal I don’t remember the series I have to find it it is the leather casing and looking at pictures I think its 755 I recently moved so it is packed in a box somewhere but I plan on unbearing it this weekend
Sure Kristine. I will wait for a couple of pictures. Thanks, Gary