Reel-to-Reel Wire Recorder

Description (Brief)
This small, portable wire recorder is an interesting example of transistorized miniaturization. The user can carry the recorder in a coat pocket while wearing the wrist-watch microphone with a connecting wire running up the sleeve. The watch does not keep time but serves solely as an unobtrusive microphone. The recorder does not use transistors but rather uses vacuum tubes. It thus requires three batteries: one for the motor drive, one for the tube filaments and one for the tube anodes.
Accessories include the wristwatch microphone, a power supply, an automobile adapter, a headset, and three patch cords. It is unclear how much noise the motor assembly made and so how useful this recorder may have been in making secret recordings. Since the tubes would have generated heat it’s also probable that the device might have been uncomfortably warm if worn. The donor’s father owned a business equipment store in Washington, D.C., and may have acquired this piece through the store. A handwritten evaluation was critical and did not recommend acquiring the product.
Currently not on view
Object Name
recording device
wire recorder
date made
ca 1962
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
leather (overall material)
paper (overall material)
glass (overall material)
felt (overall material)
recorder: 1 3/4 in x 4 in x 7 1/4 in; 4.445 cm x 10.16 cm x 18.415 cm
wristwatch: 5 in x 2 in x 9 in; 12.7 cm x 5.08 cm x 22.86 cm
microphone: 3 in x 1 3/4 in x 1 in; 7.62 cm x 4.445 cm x 2.54 cm
power supply: 3 in x 2 in x 1 3/4 in; 7.62 cm x 5.08 cm x 4.445 cm
auto adapter: 3 in x 3/4 in; 7.62 cm x 1.905 cm
headset: 7 1/2 in x 4 in x 3/4 in; 19.05 cm x 10.16 cm x 1.905 cm
patch cord: 2 1/2 in x 1 1/4 in x 1 in; 6.35 cm x 3.175 cm x 2.54 cm
patch cord: 2 1/2 in x 1 1/4 in x 1 in; 6.35 cm x 3.175 cm x 2.54 cm
patch cord: 2 1/2 in x 1 1/4 in x 1 in; 6.35 cm x 3.175 cm x 2.54 cm
tape reel: 1/2 in x 1 3/4 in; 1.27 cm x 4.445 cm
tape reel: 1/2 in x 1 3/4 in; 1.27 cm x 4.445 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Magnetic Recording
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Magnetic Recording
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Steven Lett
Additional Media

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