SoundScriber tape (1950s – 1980s)

SoundScriber tape was introduced in the US in the 1950s by the SoundScriber Corp. (who also previously introduced the SoundScriber disc recording system) for use in their S-124 recorder-reproducer machine. It was used to record police and fire radio traffic, courtroom proceedings, aircraft radio transmissions, business meetings and by radio stations to log their output. The system captured low-fidelity audio recordings.

The tape itself was made of Mylar, was 2-inches wide (on a 3.75-inch diameter reel) and moved at just 2.5-inches per minute, allowing a single 300 foot reel to record for up to 24 hours. The system used transverse scanning across the width of the tape, making the completed recording difficult to tamper with. The time in minutes from 0000 to 1455 (24 hours, plus a 15 minute overtime allowance) was printed on the uncoated surface of the tape.

Tapes could be erased by use of the accessory Model BE-24 Tape Demagnetizer, which could erase an entire tape in 5-10 seconds.

In some instances, SoundScriber tape was used until the 1980s, but the machines are now extremely rare.

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SoundScriber (1942 – 1960s)

The SoundScriber system was introduced in 1942, and was voice recording format that used a soft flexible vinyl disc onto which the sound was embossed as grooves, using vertical (or ‘hill and dale’) recording rather than lateral recording.

Two different sizes, both bright green with a square centre hole, were produced – 6 inches (known as ‘Mail Chute’) that played for fifteen minutes, and 4-inch ‘Memo Discs’ with eight minutes of recording time.

The soft vinyl meant playback was only possible a few times, but for dictation purposes this was sufficient.

SoundScriber remained popular for two decades and competed against similar formats such as the Audograph and Dictabelt.

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