Tape Recorder

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<p>Tape recorder</p> <p>A reel-to-reel tape recorderAn audio tape recorder, tape deck or tape machine is an audio storage device that records and plays back sounds, including articulated voices, usually using magnetic tape, either wound on a reel or in a cassette, for storage. In its present day form, it records a fluctuating signal by moving the tape across a tape head that polarizes the magnetic domains in the tape in proportion to the audio signal. Tape-recording devices include reel-to-reel tape deck and the cassette deck.</p> <p>The use of magnetic tape for sound recording originated around 1930. Magnetizable tape revolutionized both the radio broadcast and music recording industries. It gave artists and producers the power to record and re-record audio with minimal loss in quality as well as edit and rearrange recordings with ease. The alternative recording technologies of the era, transcription discs and wire recorders, could not provide anywhere near this level of quality and functionality. Since some early refinements improved the fidelity of the reproduced sound, magnetic tape has been the highest quality analog sound recording medium available. However, as of the first decade of the 21st century, analog magnetic tape is largely being replaced by digital recording technologies for most sound recording purposes.</p> <p>Prior to the development of magnetic tape, magnetic wire recorders had successfully demonstrated the concept of magnetic recording, but they never offered audio quality comparable to the other recording and broadcast standards of the time. Some individuals and organizations developed innovative uses for magnetic wire recorders while others investigated variations of the technology. One particularly important variation was the application of an oxide powder to a long strip of paper. This German invention was the start of a long string of innovations that have led to present day magnetic tape recordings.</p> <p>Contents</p> <p>HistoryAn early experimental non-magnetic tape recorder patented in 1886 by Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory.</p> <p>Earliest variant: non-magnetic wax strip recorderThe earliest known audio tape recorder was a non-magnetic, non-electric version invented by Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory and patented in 1886 (U.S. Patent 341,214). It employed a 316-inch-wide (4.8mm) strip of wax-covered paper that was coated by dipping it in a solution of beeswax and paraffin and then had one side scraped clean, with the other side allowed to harden. The machine was of sturdy wood and metal construction, and hand-powered by means of a knob fastened to the flywheel. The wax strip passed from one eight-inch reel around the periphery of a pulley (with guide flanges) mounted above the V-pulleys on the main vertical shaft, where it came in contact with either its recording or playback stylus. The tape was then taken up on the other reel. The sharp recording stylus, actuated by a vibrating mica diaphragm, cut the wax from the strip. In playback mode, a dull, loosely mounted stylus, attached to a rubber diaphragm, carried the reproduced sounds through an ear tube to its listener. Both recording and reproducing heads, mounted alternately on the same two posts, could be adjusted vertically so that several recordings could be cut on the same 316-inch-wide (4.8mm) strip. While the machine was never developed commercially, it was an interesting ancestor to the modern magnetic tape recorder which it resembled somewhat in design. The tapes and machine created by Bell's associates, examined at one of the Smithsonian Institution's museums, became brittle, and the heavy paper reels warped. The machine's playback head was also missing. Otherwise, with some reconditioning, they could be placed into working condition. Photoelectric variantIn 1932, after six years of developmental work, Merle Duston, a Detroit radio engineer, created a tape recorder that used a low-cost chemically treated paper tape, capable of recording both sounds and voice. During the recording process, the tape moved through a pair of electrodes which immediately imprinted the modulated sound signals as visible black stripes into the paper tape's surface. The sound track could be immediately replayed from the same recorder unit, which also contained photoelectric sensors, somewhat similar to the various motion picture sound-on-film technologies of the era. On 13 August 1931, Duston filed USPTO Patent Application #556,743 for "Method Of And Apparatus For Electrically Recording And Reproducing Sound And Other Vibrations", and which was renewed in 1934. Magnetic recordingMagnetic recording was conceived as early as 1877 by the American engineer Oberlin Smith and demonstrated in practice in 1898 by Danish engineer Valdemar Poulsen. Analog magnetic wire recording, and its successor, magnetic tape recording, involve the use of a magnetizable medium which moves with a constant speed past a recording head. An electrical signal, which is analogous to the sound that is to be recorded, is fed to the recording head, inducing a pattern of magnetization similar to the signal. A playback head can then pick up the changes in magnetic field from the tape and convert it into an electrical signal.</p> <p>Steel wire magnetic recorder variantMain article: Wire recording</p> <p>Magnetic wire recorder, invented by Valdemar Poulsen, 1898. It is exhibited at Brede works Industrial Museum, Lyngby, Denmark.</p> <p>The first wire recorder was the Valdemar Poulsen Telegraphone of the late 1890s, and wire recorders for law/office dictation and telephone recording were made almost continuously by various companies (mainly the American Telegraphone Company) through the 1920s and 1930s. These devices were mostly sold as consumer technologies after World War II.</p> <p>Widespread use of the wire recording device occurred within the decades spanning from 1940 until 1960, following the development of inexpensive designs licensed internationally by the Brush Development Company of Cleveland, Ohio and the Armour Research Foundation of the Armour Institute of Technology (later Illinois Institute of Technology] These two organizations licensed dozens of manufacturers in the U.S., Japan, and EuropeWire was also used as a recording medium in black box voice recorders for aviation in the 1950s.</p> <p>Consumer wire recorders were marketed for home entertainment or as an inexpensive substitute for commercial office dictation recorders, but the development of consumer magnetic tape recorders starting in 1946, with the BK 401 Soundmirror,using paper-based tape, quickly drove wire recorders from the market.[Early steel tape recordersIn 1924 a German engineer, Dr. Kurt Stille, developed the Poulsen wire recorder as a dictating machine. The following year a fellow German Louis Blattner, working in Britain, licensed Stille's device and started work on the developments which produced the Blattnerphone, now using steel tape.</p> <p>Blattnerphone steel tape recorder at BBC studios, London, 1937</p> <p>The BBC installed a Blattnerphone at Avenue House in September 1930 for tests, and used it to record King George V's speech at the opening of the India Round Table Conference on 12 November 1930. Though not considered suitable for music the machine continued in use and was moved to Broadcasting House in March 1932, a second machine also being installed.</p> <p>The tape was 6mm wide and 0.08mm thick, travelling at 5 feet per second; the recording time was 20 minutes.</p> <p>In September 1932 a new model was installed, using 3mm tape with a recording time of 32 minutes.</p> <p>In 1933 the Marconi Company purchased the rights to the Blattnerphone, and newly developed Marconi-Stille recorders were installed in the BBC's Maida Vale Studios in March 1935. The quality was slightly improved, though it still tended to be obvious that one was listening to a recording, as was the reliability. A reservoir system containing a loop of tape helped to stabilize the speed (there was also a smaller one just before the heads). The tape was 3mm wide and travelled at 1.5 metres/second. By September there were three recording rooms, each with two machines.</p> <p>They were hardly easy to handle. The spools were heavy (and expensive) and the tape has been described as being like a travelling razor blade. The tape was liable to snap, particularly at joints, which at that speed could rapidly cover the floor with loops of the sharp-edged tape. Rewinding was done at twice the speed of the recording.</p> <p>However despite all this, the ability to make replayable recordings was extremely useful, and even with subsequent methods coming into use (direct-cut discs and Philips-Miller optical film) the Marconi-Stilles remained in use until the late 1940s. German developmentsMagnetic tape recording as we know it today was developed in Germany during the 1930s at BASF (then part of the chemical giant IG Farben) and AEG in cooperation with the RRG. This was based on Fritz Pfleumer's 1928 invention of paper tape with oxide powder lacquered to it. The first practical tape recorder from AEG was the Magnetophon K1, demonstrated in Germany in 1935. Eduard Schller of AEG built the recorders and developed a ring shaped recording and playback head. It replaced the needle shaped head which tended to shred the tape. Friedrich Matthias of IG Farben/BASF developed the recording tape, including the oxide, the binder, and the backing material. Walter Weber, working for Hans Joachim von Braunmhl at the RRG, discovered the AC biasing technique, which radically improved sound quality.]</p> <p>Magnetophon from a German radio station in World War II..</p> <p>During World War II, the Allies noticed that certain German officials were making radio broadcasts from multiple time zones almost simultaneously.[] Analysts such as Richard H. Ranger believed that the broadcasts had to be transcriptions, but their audio quality was indistinguishable from that of a live broadcast[ and their duration was far longer than was possible with 78 rpm discs. (The Allies were aware of the existence of the pre-war Magnetophon recorders, but not of the introduction of high-frequency bias and PVC-backed tape.)[] In the final stages of the war in Europe, the Allied capture of a number of German Magnetophon recorders from Radio Luxembourg aroused great interest. These recorders incorporated all of the key technological features of modern analog magnetic recording and were the basis for future developments in the field.</p> <p>CommercializationAmerican developmentsDevelopment of magnetic tape recorders in the late 1940s and early 1950s is associated with the Brush Development Company and its licensee, Ampex. The equally important development of the magnetic tape media itself was led by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) corporation.</p> <p>In 1938, S.J. Begun left Germany and joined the Brush Development Company in the United States, where work continued but attracted little attention until the late 1940s when the company released the very first consumer tape recorder in 1946: the Soundmirror BK 401.] Several other models were quickly released in the following years. Tapes were initially made of paper coated with black oxide. Minnesota Mining &amp; Manufacturing Company (3M) replaced them by plastic tapes in 1948]American audio engineer John T. Mullin and entertainer Bing Crosby were key players in the commercial development of magnetic tape. Mullin served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and was posted to Paris in the final months of WWII. His unit was assigned to find out everything they could about German radio and electronics, including the investigation of claims that the Germans had been experimenting with high-energy directed radio beams as a means of disabling the electrical systems of aircraft. Mullin's unit soon amassed a collection of hundreds of low-quality magnetic dictating machines, but it was a chance visit to a studio at Bad Nauheim near Frankfurt while investigating radio beam rumours, that yielded the real prize.</p> <p>Mullin was given two suitcase-sized AEG 'Magnetophon' high-fidelity recorders and fifty reels of recording tape. He had them shipped home[] and over the next two years he worked on the machines constantly, modifying them and improving their performance. His major aim was to interest Hollywood studios in using magnetic tape for movie soundtrack recording.</p> <p>Mullin gave two public demonstrations of his machines, and they caused a sensation among American audio professionals; many listeners literally could not believe that what they were hearing was not a live performance. By luck, Mullin's second demonstration was held at MGM studios in Hollywood and in the audience that day was Bing Crosby's technical director, Murdo Mackenzie. He arranged for Mullin to meet Crosby and in June 1947 he gave Crosby a private demonstration of his magnetic tape recorders. Bing Crosby's influenceBing Crosby, a top movie and singing star, was stunned by the amazing sound quality and instantly saw the huge commercial potential of the new machines. Live music was the standard for American radio at the time and the major radio networks didn't permit the use of disc recording in many programs because of their comparatively poor sound quality. Crosby disliked the regimentation of live broadcasts 39 weeks a year,[ preferring the recording studio's relaxed atmosphere and ability to retain the best parts of a performance. He had asked NBC to let him pre-record his 1944-45 series on transcription discs, but the network refused, so Crosby had withdrawn from live radio for a year. ABC agreed to let him use transcription discs for the 1946-47 season, but listeners complained about the sound quality. Mullin's tape recorder came along at precisely the right moment. Crosby realised that the new technology would enable him to pre-record his radio show with a sound quality that equalled live broadcasts, and that these tapes could be replayed many times with no appreciable loss of quality. Mullin was asked to tape one show as a test and was immediately hired as Crosby's chief engineer to pre-record the rest of the series.</p> <p>Crosby's season premier on 1 October 1947 was the first magnetic tape broadcast in America.] He became the first major American music star to use tape to pre-record radio broadcasts, and the first to master commercial recordings on tape. The taped Crosby radio shows were painstakingly edited through tape-splicing to give them a pace and flow that was wholly unprecedented in radio. Mullin even claims to have been the first to use "canned laughter"; at the insistence of Crosby's head writer, Bill Morrow, he inserted a segment of raucous laughter from an earlier show into a joke in a later show that hadn't worked well. Soon other radio performers were demanding the ability to prerecord their broadcasts with the high quality of tape, and the recording ban was lifted. Keen to make use of the new recorders as soon as possible, Crosby inv...</p>

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