30 Oct 2023

100 years of radio in Germany coincides with (nearly) 100 years of IFA

Germany is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its first ever radio transmission, which took place on October 29, 1923, while IFA's forerunner - "The Great German Radio Exhibition", was first held one year later, in December 1924.

To mark this seminal moment in Germany's history, IFA organiser GFU has put together a timeline of key moments. Meanwhile, IFA 2024 will be extra special, celebrating its 100th anniversary!

IFA is the world's largest consumer electronics and home appliances trade show, and as we step into 2024, we are gearing up to celebrate a century of technological advancements. For 100 years, IFA has remained at the forefront of technology and innovation.

Since 1924, IFA has been the platform for tech launches, showcasing detector devices, tube radio receivers, the first European car radio and colour TV. From Albert Einstein opening the show in 1930 to the launch of the first video recorder in 1971, IFA Berlin has been integral to the transformation in technology, bringing together industry pioneers and innovative products all under one roof.

IFA 2023 saw the launch of HONOR's latest innovation, the foldable phone Magic V2 with an exciting opening keynote. Equally thrilling was the prospect of meeting the squad of FC Union Berlin, a formidable contender in the Champions League.

The centennial celebration next year will reflect on both past and future technological advancements through groundbreaking innovations and exclusive product unveilings.

Radio ga ga - A timeline of development from 1924 to the present day

First broadcast

On October 29, 1924 at 8 p.m., an announcement was made for the first time in Germany that entertainment broadcasting would begin with the distribution of music performances by wireless telephone means.

Despite a hesitant start, by the end of 1924 there were at least 467 paying listeners. As of January 1, 1925, 500,000 listeners were registered and by the end of 1925 the million mark had already been exceeded.

The Great German Radio Exhibition drives listening popularity

The forerunner of the IFA, the “Great German Radio Exhibition”, which took place for the first time at the Berlin exhibition centre in December 1924, also gave the new listening movement impetus.

In the month following the exhibition, January 1925, the largest monthly increase in subscribers to the listening medium was recorded: around 100,000.

Political intervention


As early as 1932, politics drastically intervened in the content of the broadcast programs. After the National Socialists came to power in 1933, it became the government's mouthpiece.

Technical improvement


From 1949 onwards, ultra-shortwave (VHF) was included in radio broadcasting. This gave the technology a leap in quality with significantly better sound quality.

Introduction of stereo sound for FM radio


The official introduction of stereo sound on FM radio took place - like many other important developments - at the 1963 exhibition in Berlin. An opening concert was broadcast from the large broadcasting hall in the Haus des Rundfunks on Masurenallee in Berlin Charlottenburg opposite the exhibition grounds.

Radio celebrates its 50th anniversary


In 1973, radio celebrated its 50th anniversary and at the IFA, the International Radio Exhibition, there were demonstrations with artificial head stereophony. In 1979, plans to reorganise broadcasting in the Federal Republic of Germany were presented, which for the first time also included private broadcasting operators.

First attempts with digital technology


In 1980, attempts at broadcasting with digital coding began. Digital satellite radio had its premiere in 1982. The first private programmes were part of the cable pilot projects in 1984. Since 1988, listeners have also been able to see what they hear: the RDS radio data system makes this possible. The radio text was added later. Short scrolling messages on the receiver's display provide additional information for the listener.

Digital is coming


Since the beginning of the 1990s, in addition to analogue broadcasts, there has also been digital radio - terrestrial, satellite and cable. In recent years, broadcasting via the Internet and streaming services have also become increasingly popular with several hundred million views per month. A growing range of Internet-capable receivers bring together thousands of radio stations from all over the world.

DAB+ starts


On 1st August, 2011, programmes based on the DAB+ digital standard went on air across Germany for the first time. The DAB+ transmission method works with a more modern, more efficient sound coding in order to reduce transmission costs and to offer more scope for a significantly greater variety of digital programs with the same sound quality.

Current numbers


Almost 76% (53.5 million people)* listen to the radio every day and citizens in Germany listen, on average, for more than four hours (249 minutes)* per day. According to HEMIX**, around 45 million radio listening devices were sold in Germany last year.

*Source: ma 2022 Audio II from the media authorities

**HEMIX Home Electronics Market Index

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