Rainier Beer Solar-Powered Radio Visor (1970s)


This unique solar-powered radio is attached to a sun visor bearing the old Rainier Beer logo. I found it at a sale in Seattle, where Rainier was brewed for many years.

Solar cells are mounted on both sides of the radio. On top are the knobs for power/volume and tuning, and its earphone can be stowed in a hole in the visor.

Inside, I suppose there is a simple transistor AM radio, powered by solar cells when there is enough sunlight. It doesn't currently work, and I haven't tried to take it apart for investigation. The radio appears to be glued to the visor; I would hate to damage anything while prying it off.

This was obviously a promotional item for the beer company. I wonder if these were given away as premiums at a local ball game?

It's possible that there are similar radio visors out there with different logos. Under the faded red Rainier sticker, I can read another logo that says "Solar Sport Radio," so this looks like a generic item that was customized for Rainier.

If anyone has information about this radio, including when it was made, please send me an email.

2016 Update

In 2016, a visitor to my website, Brittany Hade, sent a photo of a solar radio visor that looks identical to mine, except for the color and logo:

Like mine, the visor bears the name "Solar Sport Radio" with the added name Spectrolab. An Internet search revealed that the Spectrolab, part of Seattle's Boeing aircraft company, supplies solar cells for missions to outer space:

Spectrolab's state-of-the-art space solar cells and panels power satellites in Earth's orbit, as well as the International Space Station. Since its founding in 1956, Spectrolab has led the way in the development of high-efficiency solar cells for space missions. During the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, a Spectrolab product became the first solar panel to be placed on the moon.

Mystery solved? Perhaps! I have sent an email to Spectrolab, inquiring about their solar radio visor. Perhaps they can provide more details, such as when it was made, or whether it featured the logo of any other companies.

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