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What is a Wrist Radio?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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The idea of the wrist radio or walkie talkie attached to the wrist is often credited to Alfred Gross, who created some of the first of the first handheld walkie talkies. Chester Gould, the cartoonist for the early “Dick Tracy” cartoons, took his invention much further. In the mid-1940s, Gould had a visit with Gross, and transformed the handheld walkie talkie into a “wrist radio” for the cartoon. Since then real-life inventors have tried to follow suit, with relatively limited success.

Most people who search today for a wrist radio will find very few selections. Most will be two-way radios that allow people to communicate with others wearing a matching wrist radio. Some have great features like a range of from 2-5 miles (3.22-8.05 km), a number of different channels on which to communicate, full functioning as a watch, stop watch features, and ability to communicate with other devices like other walkie talkies or CB players, though this is not always the case.

Since these radios aren't in high demand, they are generally affordable, and some are sold more as walkie talkies with an accompanying wrist strap that can be used if desired. This moves the product away from a primary function as a watch and more toward a strapped on communication device. One of the reasons for decreasing popularity of the wrist radio has been its replacement by other devices like cell or mobile phones.

For some people, the idea of a radio conjures up the image of being able to play music. In this sense wrist radio would refer to a music-playing device that neatly fits around the wrist. Since such a device would probably not be able to project sound, it would rely on earphones, or even more appropriately Bluetooth® earphones to pick up music. There are definitely these types of wrist radios too, though mainstream companies do not generally make them. Most people discuss buying them from MP3 knockoff dealers, where quality is not necessarily guaranteed. It is possible to find this form of wrist radio from a number of online dealers, and they’re often available from street vendors too.

In either incarnation, the wrist radio hearkens back to a different time. The two-way sort references the cool gadgets of Dick Tracy from years ago, and the music-playing device can be impressive too. Since there aren’t that many of these radios on the market, customers are advised to do some research before choosing one. Wrist radios that don’t perform as promised is not much fun for any consumer.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Feb 11, 2014

Now that cell phones are as common as sin, how much demand is there for a wrist radio? The concept is compelling, but it's a lot easier to simply call people on a cell phone than relying on a wrist radio that has limited range.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia...
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