I came across this lovely bit of lost knowledge while cleaning out the space last week:
Wire recorders were a big deal in the 40's and 50's. They work by storing sound magnetically on a thin steel wire. The sound is great. The recording playing in the clip was taken off WSB radio almost 70 years ago and recorded to the wire. It sounds as if it was fresh off the air.
So why did this interesting spinning box go away? Several reasons. First, when you can cheaply make tape or vinyl, who wants to sell the latest top 40 hits in several hundred feet of steel wire? No one.
Next, hear that recording? Good, because that is the last time that particular wire will ever play. On the rewind it became tangled and unusable. Further research shows that this was a typical issue for users.
Finally, newer, better, and cheaper tech came out that spelled death for the wire recorders. Sure it survived a little while as a dict-a-phone or in radio studios, but in the end wire lost to tape.
Now if I can only find out who brought this in so I can give him/her/it credit...
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