This 19" Portable TV Was 'The Supreme Achievement Of The Television Age' In 1959

Imagine a portable TV with a 19″ screen that has a fuel cell that recharges from your wall outlet, and can be disguised as a weirdly heavy briefcase. Not impressed? Maybe you would have been if it were still 1959, when Motorola introduced this amazing television with its futuristic rechargeable “energy cell” (sold separately.)

Today’s consumers associate Motorola with mobile phones and two-way radios, but back then they were at the cutting edge of television and radio technology.
This dealer brochure, submitted to the Consumerist Flickr pool by user MarkAmsterdam, brags about the world-changing technology that let customers watch a couple of grainy black-and-white channels anywhere they went.


Normal TVs of the era were set in sideboard-size cabinets, so having one you could pick up and take anywhere was quite a revelation.

Update: Thanks to reader Hoss, who found this article from Popular Mechanics in 1960 showing exactly how this television was put together. If you’re wondering why the product wasn’t a commercial success, the article says that it retailed for $275, or $2,101.80 in 2011 dollars. The power cell cost $88, or $672.58.

Rechargeable transistor TV technology clearly didn’t take off, but think fondly of this invention the next time you use your Motorola smartphone to stream Netflix at the beach.

MOTOROLA Dealer Mailing Brochure (USA 1959) [Flickr]

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