Tech in Movies: The Boombox From 'Do The Right Thing'

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radioraheem.jpg

With Andrew Sullivan and his wonderful team leaving The Atlantic today, there were some small gifts exchanged between a few of us friends. Namely, The Daily Dish's Zoe Pollock gave me a sweet little Sony boombox. That, inexorably, led us to start talking about John Cusack's character in Say Anything and, of course, Radio Raheem as played by Bill Nunn in Do the Right Thing.

Looking at a still capture from the movie, what struck me was just how massive Raheem's boombox really was. Who made such a thing? It's just so beautiful!

It turns out that James Phillips collects vintage boomboxes and knows a ton about them. Phillips identified Radio Raheem's gargantuan piece of technology as a J1 Super Jumbo.

It's the J1 Super Jumbo, sometimes it's called the Techsonic, sometimes it's called the Promax. I actually have both versions. They're exactly the same except for the nameplate. It is huge, over 30" long and 17" tall!

Why would you need such a big boom box? At that size, you could fit 8" woofers into the case for maximum bass.

A quick YouTube search finds several J1 Super Jumbos lovingly cared for by collectors.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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