An Audio Recording Device That Didn’t Make It

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The RCA Magnetic Disc Recorder  

One of the interesting aspects of tech history – are the products, formats and schemes that just didn’t make it. It was bound to happen, but looking back – to me – is fascinating. So much has been forgotten – or never told. From the smallest to the largest.

A few blogs back – I did an overview of consumer audio recorders.

Although – this was for the professional market (radio stations and such) – I can’t help believe, that – if this made any dent, a consumer version would have come to fruition.

Once upon a time – RCA was the biggest of them all. It had its hand in everything from broadcast, consumer appliances, computers – you name it. It was everywhere. RCA gave us the first color-TV transmission standard, transmitted it via its NBC-TV network – and made color-TV’s.  The software and hardware side – so-to-speak. They also made radios, computers, TV-radio transmitters – almost anything electronic. Oh, and color-TV cameras – which were sold to competitors. They really had a lock on the whole color-TV roll-out.

This is fascinating – because – it was the first, I believe, to use magnetism to record/playback on a disc – a sort of disc version of the tape deck. Kind of the forerunner to a hard disc drive? I may be stretching that a little – but, think about it.

The discs look exactly like 45rpm analog records – and, it looks exactly like a phonograph complete with pick-up arm – but it’s not. It’s all magnetic.  But, yes, it did track in a groove – like a record. It didn’t wear out as quickly – but, it did touch the disc material, causing wear.  This comes to us from 1959 – and, it went away quickly.

audio recording 1959



Gary West

Historian Gary West built his first website in 1998 with That addressed now forwards to - an amazing pop culture/news database with 25,000 pages, covering the years 1955-2014. He's also the author of - covering consumer technology from 1952 to the present. West has been a contributor to numerous books, radio-TV shows, CNN & USA Today & the History Channel.

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