American Radio Equipment Co.

Radio broadcasting was introduced in Shanghai in 1922. At that time, there was very few listeners. The audience and attraction grew in the 1930s. Shanghai being a modern city, radio stations were popular with more than 100 of them operating in the city (as mentioned in “ All about Shanghai“). Import of radio equipment from the USA and Europe was a large business.

I recently ran into the below letter from American Radio Equipment Co, from 1935. It was located on 265-267 Avenue Haig (today HuaShan Lu) in the former French Concession. Although I have no other information, it is clear that company was selling and creating radio equipment. From Radio Engineers, Importers, Contractors, it is clear that they were not only selling radio receivers, but surely also building and maintaining radio transmission systems. They were probably the guys to talk if you wanted to open a radio station.

Just like today, a large business of Old Shanghai was importing and exporting. Radio equipment was no exception, as the large majority of it was imported (See radio history of Shanghai using this link). Trading companies would send international letters by air or sea, as well as telegrams, though those were really expensive (see post: Lost in transmission for more details). The pace of trade and communication was definitely much slower than today, with a letter requiring at least a few days to reach Europe or the USA,

I love the sentence “Shipping to Shanghai is same as San Francisco and no extra needed be added.” as it seems really strange nowadays. I assume that is this in particular linked to electric power, as current in the International Settlement and in China was 110 Volts like in the USA. No modification of the items was required then to use it in Shanghai.

Finding this kind of documents shows that despite changes in time, the World was already globalized in the 1930s, and Shanghai already was one of the main nods in this global network.