1930 Second-Generation Prototype RCA Victor Theremin

RCATheremin.com is proud to unveil this one-of-a-kind, rarest RCA Theremin in the world!

Second-Generation Prototype Victor Theremin

Photo: Will Joines

What Do We Know About This Instrument?

The stuff of legends. Lost for the better part of a century, the only tangible evidence that the new model with self-contained speaker ever existed at all was in the form of rare corporate ephemera first reported in Dr. Albert Glinsky's masterful biography, Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage (published in 2000). It was long thought to have not survived, and has remained in obscurity for most of its existence. While its original supporting stand has not surfaced, the all-important primary instrument cabinet, complete with all of its essential internal components, has.

Why is it Special?

Dr. Glinsky reveals that RCA's show division manager, George H. Clark, conducted a survey of five hundred visitors at radios shows where the first-generation theremin was being demonstrated. The resulting suggestions, in combination with efforts made by RCA's marketing department, production, and design engineers, led to the creation of this second-generation prototype. Embodied in this reimagined form, the theremin appears less alien, closely resembling some radios of the era. The new design reflects what RCA's sales department felt the electronic consumer of the day could relate to with greater ease.

Convenience improvements included moving the control panel from the front of the cabinet, to a face-up postion under a hinged lid. When opened, in addition to providing access to the controls, the lid with its built-in ledge becomes a sheet music rest. Safe storage for the antennas is provided under the lid when the instrument is not in use, a feature sadly lacking in the first and ultimately only production version of the RCA Theremin.

Victor Theremin Control Panel

Photo: Will Joines

Although the details of the survey responses are currently unknown, a thorough study of the physical evidence, as represented by this rare survivor, points to the specific nature of the lost communications. A hypothetical reconstruction of the suggested improvements, along with technical details are represented in the following lists:

User Experience

Physical and Technical Changes compared to original RCA Theremin

Prototype Work-in-Progress Modifications

Parts Utilized from Current and Former Production Radios and Theremin

Who Owned This Instrument?

Previously owned by Ron McClellan.

Where is This Instrument Now?

Musical instrument collection of Wally De Backer.

Tube Complement:


Not currently available


Photos: Will Joines