Playback & recording equipment

Minifon portable wire recorder: overview showing spools

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  • Shelf mark

    32 BIRS

  • Subjects

    Magnetic recorders

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  • Description

    Overview of the recorder showing the two spools. The central spool feeds the wire out, over the record head and then onto the take-up spool (lower left). The head block (centre-right with two screws) contains the recording head, and this moves up and down to wind the wire evenly onto the take-up spool. The first magnetic recorder was created in 1898 by Valdemar Poulsen, who discovered that sound could be recorded onto a spool of steel wire with an electromagnet. Wire recording was used primarily as a medium for recording interviews and dictation. Various attempts were made to promote the format over subsequent decades but it was very difficult to repair and did not lend itself to editing. The Minifon, manufactured in Germany, is significant for being one of the last wire recorders to be made. Marketed during a period when Cold War espionage and suspicion was particularly acute, the Minifon had several accessories for covert recording, such as a small microphone that could fit onto a lapel. Although the recorder was advertised as a device that could fit into a pocket, it was, nevertheless, difficult to carry discreetly; hence a specially designed body harness was also sold that could carry the machine beneath clothing. Dimensions: Width: 120 mm Height: 50 mm Depth: 180 mm

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    Minifon portable wire recorder: overview showing spools

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