Tagged: 1960s

Formats current at any point during the years 1960-1969

Minifon wire reel (1959 – 1967)

The Minifon name was applied to a range of miniature wire recorders introduced initially by the German company Monske & Co GmbH in 1951, and then produced by Protona GmbH from 1952 until 1967, although they were also sold under the Telefunken, ITT and EMI brands.

The recorders ran on batteries, and could record over 2 hours on a single reel of wire (later models allowed for 5 hours of recording). As the reels turn, the recording/playback head moved up and down so the wire was spooled evenly on each reel.

They were popular for covert recordings, and an accessory microphone that was made to look like a wristwatch was available. Minifon recorders were sold in overseas markets such as the US and UK.

In 1959 the Minifon Ataché was introduced, using a tape cartridge for the first time, but the wire-based recorders continue to be produced until Protona ceased production of all Minifon models in 1967.

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Gala Goldentone (1960 – 1964)

Gala Goldentone records were a series of 6-inch diameter orange vinyl records aimed at children and played at 78rpm. They were produced by Gala Records between around 1960 and 1964, and about 54 titles were available.

Gala Records was a division of Musical and Plastics Industries Limited, which also owned Selcol (who manufactured the records) and Selmer, famous for organs and amplifiers.

In 1968, Gala Records produced another series of records for children called Gala Nursery Records. These were more conventional, being 7-inches diameter and pressed on black vinyl, but they still played at 78rpm.

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Memocord (1965 – mid 1970s)

Memocord was a line of portable tape recorders for voice recording and dictation, introduced by the German Assmann company around 1965. The recorders and cassettes were produced in Austria by the Stuzzi company that had previously used the Memocord name for their own portable recorders using small open reels of tape.

The cassettes for the Assmann Memocord look a little like Compact Cassettes and consist of two reels in a clear housing so the amount of tape remaining can be seen. The cassettes protrude from the recorder, and this is so that on most (but not all models) they can be used to control the recorder; by pressing one end of the cassette, it plays, and by pressing the other end, the tape is rewound. This means most models of recorder only had one tape control button, and this is for recording. It also meant that there are some differences in shape between cassettes as the protruding end does not need to be the same.

Up to 90 minutes could be recorded onto a Memocord cassette.

There were several models of Assmann Memocord, and they appear to have been made until around the mid-1970s.

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3M Cantata 700 (1965 – 1990s)

The 3M Cantata 700 was a background music system introduced by 3M in 1965.

The tape cartridge was the largest ever available and consisted of two 8-inch open reels of ¼-inch mono tape stacked on top of each other. Each cartridge could hold up to 700 songs, hence the name of the system.

The 3M Cantata system could be used for locations such as shops, offices and restaurants, and the pre-recorded music was licensed for public performance (it wasn’t possible for the user to record onto the system). It was used into the early 1990s.

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Show’N Tell (1964 – 1980s)

The Show’N Tell was a combination record player and filmstrip viewer for children.

A 7-inch 33⅓rpm record was played on the record player that sat on top of the Show’N Tell player, while images from a strip of 16mm colour film in a rigid plastic holder were shown on the viewing screen at the front. There were 15 images in total on the filmstrip, and the programme lasted for around 4 minutes, with the images automatically advancing as the record played.

The record and filmstrip sets were called Picturesound programmes, and many different programmes were licensed for the Show’N Tell system. By 1965, 140 programmes were available.

General Electric manufactured the Show’N Tell from 1964 until the 1970s, and then CBS Toys manufactured it from the 1970s to the 1980s. The player was redesigned and CBS Toys sold it as the ‘Show ‘n Tell Phono-Viewer’. Picturesound programmes were released under the ‘Child Guidance’ and ‘Gabriel’ labels. The redesigned model could still play ordinary records, but only had two speeds (33⅓, or 45rpm) as opposed to the older version’s four speeds (16, 33⅓, 45, and 78rpm).

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Acetate / lacquer disc (late 1920s – )

Acetate discs (also known as lacquers or instantaneous discs) are a type of phonograph record created using a recording lathe to cut a groove in real-time, rather than mass-produced from moulds.

Unlike standard vinyl phonograph discs, acetates consist of a core material (usually aluminium, but glass and cardboard have also been used) coated with black nitrocellulose lacquer (prior to 1934, cellulose acetate was used as the coating, hence the common but incorrect name of acetate). They have ranged in size from 7-inches to 16-inches. Due to the metal core, acetates are heavier than standard records. Cheaper acetates may have a second hole near the centre, to prevent the disc slipping on lathes that don’t have a vacuum turntable. They are often one-sided, with no grooves on the reverse, and labels may be typed or handwritten rather than printed.

Acetates are used in record manufacturing; a master disc is created by dubbing from another medium (such as a master tape) and electroforming is then used to make negative metal moulds from. They were also used to evaluate the quality of the tape-to-disc transfer, to compare different takes or mixes of a recording, to get approval from band members, or to get preview copies to radio stations before the mass-produced copies were available.

Prior to the availability of magnetic tape, acetate discs were used for direct-to-disc recording. Home recording machines of the 1940s and 1950s used acetates.

Acetates wear much quicker than standard vinyl records due to the softer material used, and a chipped stylus can damage an acetate in one play.

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Preservation / Migration

media stability 5obsolescence 3Playback ideally requires a suitable stylus designed for use with lacquer discs, and for discs larger than 12-inches, a special turntable platter is also needed.

Seeburg Background Music Library (1954 – 1960s)

In 1954, Seeburg introduced their Background Music Library, using 45rpm 7-inch mono phonograph discs.

Seeburg had previously introduced in 1952 a Library Unit for home or commercial use that could house 100 standard 7-inch singles. The Library Units were different to jukeboxes as they were not coin-operated, the mechanism was not on show, and individual songs could not be randomly selected. Instead, the unit could be programmed to skip certain sides, or skip a record altogether as the mechanism played from beginning to end all the A sides, and then all the B sides as the mechanism travels back. The order of songs was determined by the order the records are placed in the machine.

The Background Music Library used the same machines with the main difference being that the records were EPs (Extended Play) and had two or more songs on each side. Sets of records were rented from Seeburg, and every 30 days a number of the discs were changed.

When the Library Unit was loaded with Background Music Library discs from Seeburg, it could provide up to 8 hours of continuous play, before starting over again.

In 1959, Seeburg introduced the Background Music System, an incompatible system using 9-inch mono phonograph discs with a 2-inch centre hole, playing at 16⅔ rpm.

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Single-8 (1965 – 2012)

Single-8 was an 8mm motion picture film format for amateur use, introduced by Fujifilm in 1965 as an alternative to Kodak Super 8.

Single-8 and Super 8 are not interchangeable in cameras, but as the sprocket holes and soundtrack are in the same position, it is interchangeable in projectors. The Single-8 cartridge is shaped differently due to the use of two separate spools rather than Super 8’s coaxial system, and this means Single-8 can be rewound in the camera for double exposure.

Unexposed film sits in the upper chamber, and passes over the camera’s metal film gate (Super 8 used a plastic pressure plate built into the cartridge instead) into the lower chamber. On the back of the cartridge is a circular slot, the length of which tells the camera the film’s speed (25, 50, 100, 200 or 400 ISO) by the use of pins in the camera.

Single-8 was most widely available in Japan, but was also available in the US and Europe where it never achieved the popularity of Super 8 despite being regarded as technically superior.

Fujifilm ceased manuafacture of all types of Single-8 in 2012, although is still available from some specialists.

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Rediffusion Reditune (1960s – 1980s)

Reditune was a division of Rediffusion in the UK, and produced background music systems for shops and workplaces.

It began producing music on tape cartridges based on the Fidelipac (without a capstan), later switching to its own endless-loop tape cartridge design incorporating a capstan, and holding 4 hours of music across four tracks. Like the 8-Track cartridge, the players could automatically switch tracks. The music on Reditune cartridges was produced within Rediffusion, and consisted of cover versions of popular tunes. Reditune dominated the market for background music in the UK.

Subscribers to the Reditune service leased cartridges and could exchange them as often as required.

Eventually, Reditune switched to long-play Compact Cassettes and then to CD-BGM.

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Mail Call Letterpack (late 1960s)

The Mail Call Letterpack was a magnetic tape recording format for voice recordings, introduced by Smith Corona in the late 1960s.

It was an endless-loop cartridge system, based on the PlayTape cartridge but using a single track and mylar tape. The inventor of PlayTape, Frank Stanton, envisioned it as a replacement for written memos and letters, and marketed it to Smith Corona.

The recording/playback units were advertised at ‘less than $70.00 a pair’. The cartridges themselves (called ‘Letterpacks’) were offered in 3, 6, or 10 minute lengths, were reusable, and sturdy enough to be sent in the post.

It was not a success.

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