recording through the ages
tape decks through the ages
AEG Telefunken and FD Baden in West Germany complete work on the Magnetophon, the first operational reel-to-reel tape recorder. It is demonstrated to the trade for the first time at the Berlin Radio Fair the following year and is marketed commercially from about 1937.
Engineers at Telefunken working with a Magnetophon in the same room as a radio transmitter stumble upon the principle of bias — recording a very high frequency signal on to tape with the main signal to reduce distortion and ease the lowest and highest level signals more accurately on to tape.
The first two-channel, in other words stereo, tape recorders are introduced for sale.
Philips begin to market their Compact Cassette, also referred to as the "Musicasette", which had been invented by one of their German engineers. Grundig had apparently experimented with a similar medium earlier in the 1960s, but Philips go down in the history books as the company which introduced the standard tape cassette as we know it today. The cassette had first been shown to the trade at the 1963 Berlin Radio Fair.
Ray Dolby's first noise-reduction system for domestic tape recorders, Dolby-B, is introduced by Dolby Laboratories (established in London in 1966). The simple but effective system is quickly taken up by most hiss-hating recorder makers: it works by boosting high frequencies on recording and reducing them on playback, cutting down the dreaded noise in the process.
The first domestic 4-track reel-to-reel tape recorder is launched by TEAC (Tokyo Electro-Acoustic Company), the A2340. Arnie Berg, a sales manager at TEAC USA, realises that the 2340, made for the current boom in "quadrophonic" four-channel music, can be made into a musician's simul-sync machine. So later in the year the TEAC A3340 is launched, with simul-sync switches on the head. It is the first reel-to-reel 4-track built with musicians' home multitrack requirements in mind. The only other company making similar machines at this time is Dokorder, who go bust soon after.
TASCAM (Teac Audio Services of America, TEAC's new "professional" division) launch the first domestic 8-track reel-to-reel machine, the 80/8.
TASCAM modify and update the widely-used A3340, and launch the A3440 4-track reel-to-reel.
TASCAM launch the first 4-track cassette recorder/mixer unit for home recordists, the M144 Portastudio, in July. Before deciding on the cassette format, TASCAM had considered a one-motor reel-to-reel version, akin to the popular Akai 4000 stereo machine, and drawings had been made by one John Lake for a proposed Elcasette version using a large non-standard tape cassette. The principal idea for the Portastudio came from Andy Bereza at TASCAM UK, along with Japanese designers/engineers Mickey Matsumoto and Yoshiharu Abe (who has been referred to as the "father of modern multitrack", thanks to his involvement also in the A-series 4-tracks and the 80/8). In the following year Bereza, Matsumoto and Abe move to a new company set up by Foster of Japan, called Fostex. Sony launch the first personal cassette machine, originally called the Stowaway but quickly changed to the now-generic Walkman. Dolby release the first details of their uprated Dolby-C noise-reduction system, and their variable-bias Dolby-HX "headroom extension" system.
The first two Fostex products are launched, the 250 Multitracker 4-track cassette recorder/mixer, and the A8, the first 8-track-on-quarter-inch reel-to-reel recorder. Meanwhile, TASCAM replace the original Portastudio with the improved M244.
Fostex launch the X15, the first battery-powered 4-track mini-recorder, rather ambitiously promoted as a "studio in the palm of your hand".
Cutec's proposed home-recorder with eight tracks on video cassette is again postponed, this time due to problems with the application for a Dolby noise-reduction licence.
Bedroom Bouncedown - Home Recording
Feature by Tony Bacon
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