The Echophone

The Radio Shop was founded by Arthur E. Bessey, Jr., a well-known amateur radio operator, sometime before May 1920. Bessey was already in business with his father in Sunnyvale, who had an innovative patent for incubators and brooders for poultry farmers. Bessey and his partners started their business in these poultry buildings, soon opening a sales location in downtown San Jose’s Bank of Italy building.

Patterning their parts after Colin Kennedy’s and claiming to have an official license from patent-holder Edwin Armstrong, they advertised a matching detector and two-step amplifier, and a three-circuit tuner. In 1922, as the radio boom hit the Bay Area, Bessey also started Sunnyvale’s first radio station, KJJ.

Initially, The Radio Shop built sets to order for other companies or distributors, then began to make simple sets under their own trade names, including the Echophone. Echophone eventually was sold to William J. Halligan, and became the basis for Hallicrafters.

The Perham Collection of Early Electronics includes two models of the Echophone: