Being the only EE in my extended family, I inherited my grandparent's broken console-model wire recorder. In a burst of energy in my 30's, I pulled the electronics out, replaced a broken tube or two, then got it working. Because the motor bearings and transmission were worn out, it ran under-speed, and all the voices were low and slow. Powering it from a variac transformer, dialed up above 110Vac, I was able to 'tune' the speed, so that Grampa's voice sounded right. But it took about 5 muffin fans aimed at the electronics and motor, to keep it from thermal meltdown.
I discovered recordings of my Grampa's barbershop group singing on the radio, and also found a recording of my dad teaching my youngest uncle to talk.
Dubbed over to cassette tape, those copies made great Christmas gifts for the extended family that year.
@alzie: I started out with tape recording half a century ago...
Doesn't it feel strange saying stuff like that? It's like when I'm talking about my friend Brian Bailey and I say: "I attended a class Brian gave on SCAN technology around 30 years ago and I still have the notes."
But I refuse to get any older -- I'm going to hold at my current age for the next 100 years or so -- good grief, I'm only just starting my third chaildhood!
The first magnetic wire recorder was created in 1899 by a Danish Engineer called Valdemar Poulsen (1869 – 1942). Commercial magnetic wire recorders for dictation and telephone recording were made almost continuously from the 1920s onwards, but the real heyday of wire recording was in the 1940s through to the mid-1950s.
No mention of where these things came from? The first I've seen wasn't a recorder, it was a radio detector: a loop of moving wire with two coils touching, antenna on the first coil and headphones on the second, and a magnet to restore the wire afterwards. "Marconi Magnetic Detector." Nonlinear effects presumably demodulated the RF. I guess it was a Coherer with a single giant iron filing.
Hmm. Was this the origin, or did wire recorders predate 1910 or so? Firesign Theater of course insists that they were invented by native americans who recorded civil-war era theater dramas...