Wire recorder spool, from early 1950's 

In High School age, my father gave me a Webcor wire recorder, forerunner to the tape recorder, cassette recorder, and CD. It enabled recording and re-recording of audio, by magnetizing a small diameter wire back and forth as the wire was pulled past the magnetic recording head that was energized by electric current that was a copy of the audio pressure waves in the air as picked up by the microphone. Later, very similar recording was done on spools of tape which had iron ferrite particles embedded along it, and whose magnetic polarity was controlled by the magnetic recording head, instead of along the wire as in a wire recorder. Tape was a lot easier to handle than the wire of a wire recorder spool, particularly when it came to splicing a break and unsnarling  a scrambled knotty mess of wire. The doctor who had used the wire recorder before me, had used it to record patient's conversations with him; he had upgraded to a reel-to-reel tape recorder, freshly available at the time.

Only two items survived in my possession the half century since then, one is the spool of wire recorder wire shown in these photographs. (The other is the wooden case he built for it when I went to college, which I still use as a suitcase.) Perhaps it was influential in my life, since much of my life and career in electronics involved use and/or development of tape recorders and other ferrite recording systems.


Here is the top of the spool of wire recorder wire. A scale showing inches and centimeters is alongside for comparison. A strand of wire can be seen inside the center of the spool in this photo, so you can see how tiny the wire is. And the wire is rustproof.


Here is a sort of edge view showing the wire on the spool.


Here is the bottom of the spool, showing part number and other data, along with a better look at a couple loose loops of the recording wire. It shows that it could store a half hour of audio, that its catalog number was W-174, and part number was 102251F2... and that it needed to be put in the recorder with the other side up.  

An Excalator Hi page titled WireRecorder by J E D Cline started on Saturday, April 5, 2008 9:59:13 AM US/Pacific

Copyright © 2008 James E. D. Cline. Permission granted to reproduce providing inclusion of a link back to this site and acknowledgment of the author and concept designer James E. D. Cline.