The following frame captures are from the 1980 film Times Square. Not only is the movie rife with incredible ghettoblasters, but the story, soundtrack and acting are all pretty good. Grab the DVD if you can. Times Square was shot entirely in depressed, gritty post-disco New York City at a time when boomboxes were to be seen and heard at every turn.
Shoulder-strapped JVC. Ignore the guy with his hand in his pants.
Main character Nicki blasting the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” in the halls of a psychiatric hospital.
Times Square electronics shop open late for business.
Main character Nicki dancing to the sound of dude’s JVC RC-550.
Friends gathered around a boombox on a rooftop.
Getting through mid-day traffic with the help of a stereo.
Self-conscious teen punk chicks oblivious to the wonders behind them.
Teen girls resist the dangers of Times Square armed with a boombox.
Paul grabbed this Aimor at a Virginia flea market for $40. It’s an oddity from the late ’70s–portable stereo with detachable speakers, multi-band radio and cassette deck. There’s an FM stereo LED, metal knobs to control tone, balance and volume. This sucker is heavy and is a grayish green in color–a real boat anchor as far as boomboes go. Never heard of Aimor, but it was made in Japan and is of pretty decent quality.
Even discount brands like Yorx jumped into the “stereo-on-the-go” market early on. But at first glance, this doesn’t look very cheap, does it? Black with silver trim, illuminated meters, LED on the tuner, balance and tone control… this model was inexpensive by 1979 boomobx standards at $119. How ironic that such a price tag in 2002 would be considered high for a portable stereo.
Released the same year as the 801, the TPR-850 lacked some of the functionality, but is still nice. We haven’t found any indication that Aiwa boomboxes made it to the US until 1980 or 1981.
An artist’s rendition of the “on-the-go” stereo enthusiast in 1978. No, really, they were all disco fans back then.
Hector Amezquita in Mexico City proudly displays a “holy grail” in the boombox world, a JVC RC-838 (this one’s technically an RC-838JW, the JW is code for an optional voltage control). Released in 1978, it was dubbed the Biphonic system and looks remarkably ahead of its time. It’s completely packed with functions: jacks for remote, auxilary equipment, headphones; beat match; “binaural” eqalizer, LEDs for expand/stereo mode; 6-band radio (4 SW/AM/FM) and two antennas. Thanks Hector!
Jay found this late ’70s Sanyo at a consignment shop up in Maine for $15. Price was right, this thing looks like it was barely used! Simple, no-frills model from Sanyo, but unlike today’s Sanyo, this component is actually well-made and built to last.
Aiwa claims to have manufactured the very first stereo radio cassette recorder in 1977, the TPR-810. We’re not accepting nor disputing that at this point, but the Marantz system on the previous page was pulled from a 1976 ad. Pictured above is the TPR-801, released in 1978. It’s a sharp-looking machine, with twin meters, 3-band radio and minimalist front. Check out those slim mode switches above the tuner portion.
From the 12″ single “Get Up and Boogie” singer Freddie James is all smiles in the photo on the back cover, probably because he’s carrying that sweet ’79 Panasonic. There’s no cassette loaded and the antenna’s down…he must be listening to AM.
Panasonic Portable FM/AM Stereo Cassette Recorder. Fluid design improves slightly upon the Marantz, but an otherwise insipid format. As you’ll soon see, it wouldn’t take long for Panasonic to come into their own. The Japanese giant’s first offering featured 3 1/2″ speakers, twin volume controls, mic mixing, built-in stereo condenser mics and VU/battery meter. Approx. $150 by 1977.