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History of Tape Recorders

Fred McCormick 10 Mar 09 - 10:26 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 09 - 10:30 AM
Fred McCormick 10 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 09 - 11:01 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Mar 09 - 11:25 AM
johnadams 10 Mar 09 - 11:56 AM
pdq 10 Mar 09 - 01:37 PM
Fred McCormick 10 Mar 09 - 02:31 PM
GUEST,Ray 10 Mar 09 - 02:31 PM
pdq 10 Mar 09 - 03:51 PM
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Subject: History of Tape Recorders
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 10:26 AM

There's a rather quirky looking series starting next Monday on BBC Radio 2, 23-30 GMT. It's called Third Reich and Roll and it's introduced by Stephen Fry. The blurb explains how the tape recorder was developed in Nazi Germany, and how it then went on to revolutionise the music business. I'm going to have a listen anyway.


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Subject: RE: History of Tape Recorders
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 10:30 AM

Sounds interesting. I remember seeing some old wire recorders in my days at the BBC (many years ago), and I remember hours of fun messing around with old Uher machines and Revoxes.

Anyone remember the Vortexion?


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Subject: RE: History of Tape Recorders
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM

I don't remember the Vortexion, but the wire recorder predated the tape recorder by about fifty years, although it worked on the same principle. IE., it recorded sound onto strips of stainless steel, but with a level of background noise that would make your average 78 sound positively hifi. I have a copy of some recordings which were made on the Isle of Barra on a Presto J6 in 1936. You'd swear they'd been cut in a tin shed in the middle of a thunderstorm.


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Subject: RE: History of Tape Recorders
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 11:01 AM

The Vortexion was, I believe, a Swiss machine in a solid metal green case - extremely heavy and well-made. State-of-the-art in its day.


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Subject: RE: History of Tape Recorders
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 11:25 AM

Bet the Ferrograph is the star of the show.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: History of Tape Recorders
From: johnadams
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 11:56 AM

First time I saw one of the old green Ferrographs there was a Bill Leader hunched over it - recording Roger Watson and Colin Cater at the Nottingham Traditional Music Club.

Ferrograph/Leader was a most excellent pairing.

Sadly the album was never released. (Thinks: I wonder if the master tape survived?)


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Subject: RE: History of Tape Recorders
From: pdq
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:37 PM

The German tape recorder that led to modern units was called the Magnetophon. Developement was done in the 1930s and fine working units were in use during WW II.

The US military and intelligence services found a few units including one at a Radio station.

Jack Mullin, a member of the US Army Signal Corps, packed two Magnetophons and sent them home after the war. His reverse-engineering led to the start of the Ampex.

Ampex pioneered new methods of tape manufacture involving new durable backing material, new formulations of ferrous coating and advance methods of applying the coating.

Bing Crosby deserves a nod for backing Ampex. I believe he lived in the Menlo Park area at the time reasonably close the the future Ampex factory. Crosby was the first artist to record on tape and the first to record his radio shows. Others were still using "transcription" LP records.


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Subject: RE: History of Tape Recorders
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 02:31 PM

Interestingly, Crosby is mentioned in the BBC blurb, along with Les Paul.


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Subject: RE: History of Tape Recorders
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 02:31 PM

I've got an old Ferrograph somewhere - weighs a ton - I've always understood that the Germans discovered the cross-field bias principle which improves the signal:noise ratio, something to do with using one close to the radio Luxemburg transmitters
Ray


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Subject: RE: History of Tape Recorders
From: pdq
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 03:51 PM

I have to make a slight correction. Crosby had the Mullin system demonstrated to him in October, 1946. By that time, Merv Griffin had been recorded. Also, the Germans recorded and played music on their radio broadcasts, which removes credit for "first commercial recording on tape" from US completely.

"...the two modified Magnetophons were used to produce the first U.S. commercial entertainment disc professionally mastered on tape, Songs by Merv Griffin, in 1946."

Crosby's investment in Ampex was essential to its success. They gave a recorder to Les Paul who promoted and endorsed the product.


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