Radio Ltd was formed in 1922. A very original name! But it said it all. They were one of NZ's first radio companies. They established Auckland's first radio station, 1YA, which is still going.  The name Ultimate came into being in 1923 when it was decided to start manufacturing, instead of just importing, receivers. In 1929 an Ultimate radio went to the Antarctic with Admiral Richard E Bird. This gave quite a lot of positive publicity for Ultimate. In 1936 the name was changed to Radio (1936) Ltd. By 1928 they were making a dozen different brands for various companies. Names such as Courier, Rolls, Golden Knight, Ultimate, Skyscraper, Ekco, Lewis Eady, National, Luxor, Crusader, Paramount, McCabes, were all made by Radio (1936) Ltd. In a lot of cases the only difference was the brand name badge. In 1946 they released a metal cabinet model, the RB. (see Golden Knight). And in 1947 their first Bakelite sets. In 1955 they became Ultimate-Ecko (NZ) Co. Ltd, and in 1967 came under the control of Pye.


Ultimate Cygnet Bakelite radio.

The Ultimate Cygnet is a 5 valve broadcast model made from approx 1953 to 1959. Over the years, the dials changed a few times. They were also available as Golden Knights, and probably others.

A very, very dear friend used to have one of these. She loved it. She used to listen to all the old programmes of the time.  It was her constant companion whenever she was at home. Often, it was on all day and most of the night. Especially when she was not well. 1YA was her favourite station. Unfortunately her elderly mother gave the radio away, some years ago. She was heartbroken, and has always regretted it. They were, and still are, very good performing little radios.

As of Christmas 2000, I gave her the one below!! It's an earlier model than the one above.  She is, of course, absolutely delighted. It's great to see these old radios in homes where they are appreciated, and will be used :)  It has been named "My Radio". When I said I would have expected something a little more off the wall from her, she said " 'My' being possessive!  Pity help any one who touches 'My Radio'!! "   Way to go, Alys.

Another Ultimate Cygnet

 Here, you can see a different, earlier, dial, when compared to the one above.

We now have a Blue one with the same dial as the top one, but with the name Golden Knight on it, plus a Brown Ultimate with the lower dial.

Chassis of Early Cygnet Radio

Chassis of Later Cygnet Radio

Here we see two different chassis used in the Ultimate Cygnet radios. The top one is an RBZ model which were made between 1951 and 1953.  The lower is an RCP model, made between the years 1953 and 1959. There are a number of obvious differences. The RBZ has only 4 instead of 5 valves, and are the older, larger type. One of which, the red one, is shielded and has a cap on top. There is an aerial coil mounted on the chassis, whereas the RBZ has a ferrite rod aerial and terminals on the chassis for extension aerial and earth, instead of wires hanging out. The output transformer is mounted on the speaker itself, but on the later one it is under the chassis. The RBZ has a round IF coil with side adjusters, plus a square one with top adjustment, but the lower one has two smaller rectangular ones. The trimmers on the tuning gangs are completely different.

Advertisement for 1936 Ultimate Radios.

Ultimate Radio Advertisement from 1951.

1957 Advertisement for Ultimate Radios.

1936    148KB

1951    86KB

1957    109KB

  Click on pictures above for large versions of these advertisements.

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