ICF-2001, picture by Nick Jarman

This was Sony’s first all-digital world band receiver and has many remarkable aspects to its design with have all been widely copied since its introduction. Previous world band models of similar performance had been bulky and difficult to operate but the ICF-2001 was no larger and no more difficult to use than an ordinary domestic set. Importantly it was small enough to be taken onto an aircraft as hand luggage, something that was not practical with Sony’s other models of the period such as the ICF-6700 and the ICF-6800. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

What made the ICF-2001 so easy to use was that radio frequencies could be entered directly using a calculator style keyboard and display. This made tuning on the short wave bands exceptionally easy and repeatable, even under difficult reception conditions. The set was sold as a two band model because all the AM broadcast bands had been combined into one, the operator simply selected “AM” and entered any frequency between 150 and 29999 KHz, no band selection was necessary. It was also possible to automatically scan for stations, either across the whole band or between two programmable markers. Six stations and two markers could be stored in the memory, either AM or FM and of any tuneable frequency. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The FM side of the receiver was largely conventional but the AM circuit was a dual conversion superhetrodyne with the unusual intermediate frequencies of 66.3 MHz and 10.7MHz, the latter being the standard for FM receivers. SSB and CW broadcasts could be received and the operator was able to fine tune the antenna circuit for optimum results. The LCD frequency display was augmented by sleep timer readout (up to 90 minutes) and a five segment LED signal strength meter. The audio stages were also conventional, but the transformer coupled output stage was reminiscent of those used by the very earliest transistor radios and seemed strangely out of place in such an advanced model. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The ICF-2001 was not without its drawbacks, the internal oscillators could interfere with reception at certain short wave frequencies for example and battery consumption was high, a set of three “D” sized cells could be consumed in as little as ten hours. The model was nevertheless a major success and came to be known in some circles as “the voice of Japan” due to its popularity amongst Japanese tourists. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.