Colt - the radio that made Bell
Of the New Zealand manufacturers who came into existence after the end of the Second World War the Bell Radio-Television Corporation became, and remained the largest and fastest growing. The origins of the company go back to 1947 when two young returned servicemen, O'Brien and Stewart, went into business with the idea of making hearing aids. However, this idea was abandoned before any production had commenced and, instead, the two decided to manufacture a then new type of portable radio, one that would work on both mains and batteries. The design of this set was quite unique in that it had separate interchangeable battery and mains power units which plugged into a recess in its base resulting in a set of extremely small dimensions and light weight.
By 1948 production of the 'Antone' portable, as it was known, was underway at 347 Queen Street, Auckland, the factory at that time being an upstairs room. A modified and slightly larger version superseded the original model in 1950 and in the same year a small 4-valve AC set known as the Antone 'Cadet' was produced.
At about this time a third person, Mr A. Bell, joined Antone Ltd. (Al Bell registered Bell Radio Television Corp. Ltd. on 22 November 1948 with a capital of £700.) Al Bell was a man with considerable business acumen and an ambition to be first in the field in the production of television receivers. Not long after his appearance on the scene the two original members of the group pulled out of the company leaving Al Bell in control. The inclusion of the word 'television' in the company title at this early date was an indication of Bell's intentions.