The Aki Electronics RG-55D, sold in the United States under Aki’s “Robberson” brand as the Robberson R-55, is infamous for its supposed reception of “alien transmissions.” A piece of very high-end stereo equipment on its introduction in 1975, the RG-55 was primarily a cassette player but also featured a very basic radio set as an optional feature (the “D” part of its model name).

If a customer already had a radio in their home stereo setup, the RG-55 would pass that signal through to its headphone jack or a set of external speakers. But if the customer had no radio, the optional set replaced an otherwise decorative plate on the front of the machine. The extra cost, $50 USD for the Robberson model and ¥15,300 JPY for the Aki, was not competitive–the cheapest radio in the Aki/Robberson line, the T-24, had better reception, better range, better sound quality, and cost only $20 more. As a result, factory records show that only 66 of the optional radios were sold, 41 RG-55D units for the Japanese market, and 25 R-55D units for the American market. While a version was offered for sale in Europe (under Aki’s “Gugstein” brand as the GG-55D) none were sold.

One of the reasons for the radio set’s inclusion, despite its high price and general unpopularity, was that is was intended as a quiet test of a new system developed by Aki’s chief engineer Takayuki Fujimura. The innovative system used the wiring system that the unit was connected to as an amplified antenna, which promised exceptional reception range and low cost at the cost of quality, as the resulting signal was quite noisy and could be affected by other appliances or even fluctuations in the grid.

Soon after the units left the Aki factory and were delivered to customers, complaints began coming in that the radios were picking up unwanted signals. Several reported receiving air traffic control or police band transmissions, while others were able to pick up the audio portion of terrestrial television broadcasts. Others, however, reported reception of “sinister signals” that described their locations and lives in minute and disturbing detail.

Japanese customers and American customers both reported the transmissions in their native language, but despite the unit’s built-in tape recorder, recordings contained only static. Despite this, complaints continued to grow and media attention began to be devoted to the phenomenon. Rather than deal with the problem, Aki simply recalled all 66 units and mailed customers a stock 55 unit with e free T-24 radio.

Irate, Takayuki Fujimura insisted on being given an RG-55D unit to experiment with; Aki apparently obliged, while the others were destroyed, with the radios removed and crushed before being resold as stock units. Fujimora committed suicide by hanging three days later, leaving reams of notes (investigators describe them as “filling three walls”) on his findings but no answers. Officially it was believed that he was ashamed of the failure of his design and the resultant damage to his reputation, but conspiracy theorists maintain that he was silences, or perhaps so disturbed by the content of the transmissions that he took his own life.

Either way, the reports of mysterious transmissions cannot be substantiated. While a number of Aki and Robberson salespeople and service personnel said that they heard something odd demonstrated by unhappy customers, no recordings survive. Takayuki Fujimura’s RG-55D was converted into a stock RG-55 and resold after his death, with the radio unit being crushed; his notes were never seriously analyzed by the Kyoto police and were burned by the Aki corporate archivist shortly after Fujimura’s death.

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