So many thoughts. So little time.

My first tape recorders

I got into recording at a very early age – 10 years old, to be exact! My mom bought my brother and I a “shared” present from the Sears catalog – a reel-to-reel tape deck! Here is a picture of the catalog entry from the 1962 Sears Christmas Catalog of that item, the “Electronic Tape Recorder” which sold for $29.66 – what an odd price point!

Click the image to get a better view of it!

1960s SEARS reel to reel tape recorder huge

Thanks Mom!

This thing used its removable speaker as a microphone when you switched to record mode (the only time I’ve ever seen that except on an intercom system!) It used a permanent magnet as an erase head that you’d swing into position to brush against the tape to erase it as you were recording. It was naturally not a capstan drive, but was a take-up reel drive, making the tapes un-playable on a capstan system (steady speed) since the tape moved faster as the take-up reel filled up with tape. So, the playback would get slower and slower played on a capstan-drive deck… pretty funny for the first time, but then it sank in how without such a machine to play back your tapes you’d never hear them right again!

I then moved up at age 13 to a Miny (hear it!) (also branded as the Star-Lite Pacer). That thing was a blast! Bought with paper-route money, of course.

I finally afforded an Emerson/Telectro MS 223 Stereo Playback/Sound-on-Sound Recording “real” tape machine at age 14. (I actually ended up working there at Telectro in Jamaica, Queens, NY in my early thirties as a shipping clerk for a few months, circa 1981!) This machine had a removable spindle that let you switch between 3-3/4 and 7-1/2 inches per second (ips) speed. I had to take it completely apart twice to replace a riveted cam pin in the mechanism, screwing in the idler piece with a sheet metal screw… lucky I still had small hands! Both the Miny and the Telectro were purchased at the Grand Way Superstore – a Grand Union project in the sixties – using paper route money, of course! (I had a 15-mile long paper route I delivered to 6 days a week rain or shine. So, I bought things I wanted!)

Gadzooks! Have we come a long way! Digital recording into my Acer Chromebook running Linux and Audacity blows away anything I ever put onto tape, sound-quality-wise!

In case you didn’t know this about me, I am an electronic and conceptual-art music guy since forever (age 10!) and mostly play now with synths, though I am messing with more “Musique concrète” again. I’m returning to my ‘experimental’ music roots lately, but have been all over the place with that. I own two Korg Wavestations (orig. keyboard and rack), an Emu Procussion, two TX81Z Yamaha FM synth rack modules, and a Kawai K5000 additive synth. I am also considered a formidable flute player, though I continuously have my doubts about that.

I rotate tunes through my Soundcloud account, and have most everything I’ve ever done that’s been transferred to digital over at my Soundcloud site. Here’s a sample embeded from SoundCloud. (Download for full fidelity.)

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