[78-L] the 'deadest' consumer audio formats?

David Lennick dlennick at sympatico.ca
Fri May 13 19:50:53 PDT 2011

For a few years I had a combination record player/wire recorder out in the 
garage. Bought it for ten bucks, sold it for ten bucks.

Victor Home Recording was actually around for a long time. Blank discs were 
still being sold in the mid to early 40s..I had about 500 of them that someone 
had used for recording programs off the air. He was buying them in Toronto for 
about $1.25 each (12 inch) and dating his recordings, which went up to about 
1944. Now that's a difficult format to play back..the modulations are on the 
sides of the groove, which is wide, and the average stylus misses them entirely 
so you think the disc wasn't recorded. You need a 5 or 6 mil point.

Here's one for you..."Mail-A-Voice". I have a package of "discs" (magnetic 
paper) for it.

Brush Mail-A-Voice and the Recordon

A small disk based recording device, broadly similar to a small portable 
turntable or a disk cutter but had a magnetic head instead of a 
pickup/cutterhead, the recording quality was pretty abysmal. Brush Development 
Company started manufacturing the device in 1946 and utilised 9" paper disks 
coated with magnetic particles developed by the company in association with 3M 
but actually manufactured by Shellmar. The disks and the coating were fairly 
rugged and paper was chosen instead of a more durable format because the idea 
was that you could mail it directly without packaging and the long term 
durability was not a problem since the format was intended for a dictation 
recording only (this idea resurfaced with dictation belts), but in the 50's 
disks made out of plastics were available. The unit was not a hit but sold 
reasonably due to the relatively low price of 40USD which made it one of the 
cheapest dictation products that you could buy at the time (there was in fact a 
cheaper model available, the 501), it can be seen in operation in at the least 
2 Film Noir movies from the early 50, it died out sometime in the 50's 
primarily due to the fact that it was difficult to use compared to a tape 
recorder but there were also problems with lifetime of the magnetic heads, and 
it was a bit primitive, erasing was done by holding a permanent magnet over the 
disk. The Mail-A-Voice was manufactured under license by the British company 
Thermionic Products as the Recordon.

Source: http://audiotools.com/oldf.html .. interesting oddball formats.


On 5/13/2011 10:39 PM, Royal Pemberton wrote:
> I am one....I used to have a Magnecordette III (circa 1953) which was
> missing a few parts, but was full track erase and staggered R/P heads.  Had
> basically the same transport as the PT6 machines but somewhat different
> electronics.  I never did anything with it as when I got it in 1999 it had
> all original innards and I wasn't going to risk anything firing it up with
> all original capacitors inside.  (And I never could afford to re-cap it.)  I
> sold it off last year.
> On Sat, May 14, 2011 at 3:05 AM, David Lennick<dlennick at sympatico.ca>wrote:
>> I'm open to offers on the Eartha tape, which is STACKED (in case you were
>> asking). St. Louis Blues.
>> Yeah, forgot about staggered heads..wonder how many people on this list
>> know
>> about those? We also had "butterfly heads" on Studers in the 80s, which was
>> a
>> problem if I brought in (over NABET's dead body) a tape made on standard
>> 2-track heads on an imperfectly erased tape.
>> dl
>> On 5/13/2011 8:18 PM, bradc944 at comcast.net wrote:
>>> I was gonna get to the elcaset... but was beaten to it.
>>> Yes, and even MORE bonus points for staggered-head-stereo 2-track reels,
>> of which I have a couple.
>>> And how much ransom are you asking for the Eartha Kitt tape? :)
>>> Brad
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: David Lennick<dlennick at sympatico.ca>
>>> To: 78-L Mail List<78-l at klickitat.78online.com>
>>> Sent: Fri, 13 May 2011 19:51:43 -0000 (UTC)
>>> Subject: Re: [78-L] the 'deadest' consumer audio formats?
>>> Some 2-track stereo open reel tapes are in demand (speaking of which,
>> would
>>> anybody be demanding one I just found by Eartha Kitt?).
>>> I have a few thousand DAT tapes and have experienced remarkably little
>> failure.
>>> 3 machines still in working order. 2 good reel to reel machines that can
>> handle
>>> full, half or quarter track, 3.75 to 15ips..if anything slower ever
>> requires my
>>> attention, I'll have to see if the old Philips fires up.
>>> dl
>>> On 5/13/2011 3:45 PM, agp wrote:
>>>> At 19:38 13/05/2011, MD wrote:
>>>>> reel-to-reel tape (bonus points for quadrophonic)
>>>> I think this still lives on in pro circles. I had one until about 2
>> years ago
>>>>> 8-track
>>>> Not to forget quad-8 and the 4 track (a la Muntz Stereo Pak)
>>>> And who can forget the charming little PlayTape
>>>>> machines to play these formats. I wouldn't even put DATs and minidiscs
>> in
>>>>> the running - I never saw them find much of a foothold at all in the
>>>>> consumer market.
>>>> MD was pretty strong outside the USA. I still have a recorder for
>>>> them puppies. It was great. Have a few prerecorded titles including
>>>> Paul McCartney's release Run, Devil Run.
>>>> T
>>>> ___________________________________

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