A radio receiver for all – HHI contributed new technology

January 30, 2018


The undisputed star of the 1933 "Große Deutsche Funkausstellung" radio exhibition (IFA) in Berlin was the so called “Volksempfänger”. More than 100,000 units of the new radio receiver were sold at affordable 76 Reichsmark, made possible by standardization and mass production. This was still more than half a month’s wage for the average laborer, but other radio sets were far more expensive. By 1941, almost 65 percent of all German households owned the new radio.

The HHI played a substantial role in developing the technology behind the Volksempfänger. In 1933, Professor Dr. Leithäuser wrote in his paper Reception Trials with the Volksempfänger in the journal “Funktechnische Monatshefte”: “The creation of the German Volksempfänger is the result of the request of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment to extend public broadcasting to the entire German public, especially our fellow German citizens with limited financial means. The production design was chosen by a commission of the WIRUFA (Wirtschaftsstelle für Rundfunkapparate-Fabriken GmbH), which brings together all 28 factories producing radio sets in Germany. All of these 28 factories are additionally involved in the production of the Volksempfänger. All factories are working according to the same design and using matching components, so that the look and performance of the receiver chassis will be exactly the same, regardless of its actual manufacturer.”

The reception conditions for the Volksempfänger were tested in exacting field tests across Germany and assessed as good by a dedicated commission headed by Professor Dr. Leithäuser. However, the people could not receive foreign channels.

The "Große Deutsche Funkausstellung" has taken place at various locations in Germany since 1924 and mainly exhibited technologies from the fields of radio broadcasting. Since 1971, the trade fair has been held annually in Berlin as the International Radio Exhibition Berlin (IFA). Today it is one of world's leading trade shows for consumer electronics and home appliances.