Top Trumps

The BUSH TR82 is the iconic transistor radio designed by David Ogle.  As testimony to its appeal, since the late 1950s to the present day, there have been at least 16 different models and variations of this very same radio charting the development of portable radios and broadcasting from the earliest beginnings at the end of the fifties to the emergence of DAB today.  Enthusiasts have devoted their life’s work to seeking out each and every version and just when they think they have a complete set, another one surfaces.  It must be like playing Top Trumps for transistors.

I could tell you how to spot each and every variation but it would read like a complete nerdfest.  Along with the technology they vary in model number, case colour and trim but here are the edited highlights.5Oy2Gry

The 1957  the MB60 valve radio for long wave and medium wave started it all along with an export version, the EBM60.  It was pale grey with red rexine sides and brass lettering and trim.  Two years later, the 1959 transistor version TR82 come on the market.


Bush  used product placement with great success in the first remake of the classic film The 39 Steps starring Kenneth More as Richard Hannay.  Tension mounted in the railway carriage compartment as the announcer could be heard breaking the news of the search for Richard Hannay.  The camera panned to a close up of the lady in the carriage holding the brand new 1959 Bush TR82B and a shed load of radios were sold.

In 1997 the TR82/97 hit the shelves. An updated reproduction of the VTR103 manufactured in China. Enthusiasts and collectors are very sniffy about this version which is known as the “wonky-u”.  It was thought that the Chinese stripped down an existing TR82 and went from there.  On the original case the BUSH name was made by individual chrome-plated letters with two fixing pins attached to corresponding holes on the front of the main case.  Looking to make savings, the letters were made as part of the moulding of the case and electroplated in chrome or gold. As part of this process, the letter “U” became more horseshoe shape – hence the wonky-u.  This ones ours and, although I accept the manufacture could be considered to be slightly inferior to the earlier British made radios, I still love it because I love the solidness, shape and colour of the original design.



In 2007 the TR82DAB brought the insides of the radio bang up to date but the exterior remains fundamentally the same.   Which just goes to show you really can’t top a good design.  Why change it when it still looks this good nearly sixty years on.


  1. Thom Hickey · August 23, 2014

    Fascinating. A classic design indeed. Regards Thom.

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