The last decade has seen a huge increase in our ability to record sound and images with devices light enough to carry with us all the time. In our Museum stores, hiding between our collection of candle snuffers and overhead shop delivery equipment, is another more recent piece of redundant technology. Slightly smaller than a briefcase this is the Recordon.
The Recordon – Cutting Edge Recording Technology for the late 1940s
The Recordon was an office dictation system using 9-inch paper disc with a magnetic coating. It was introduced by the UK company Thermionic Products in 1948 with the Recordon TP503 machine. The Recordon was manufactured under licence from the Brush Development Company of the U.S.A. The Recordon Recording Disc had fold lines printed on it, and could be folded up and sent through the post. To keep the disc flat, and to direct the recording arm, a special pre-grooved disc is placed over the recording disc, as seen below.
The system was fairly low-fi, but was good enough for dictation purposes, and as the recording runs from the centre to the outside of the disc quality improves. Discs could be erased for re-use with the magnetic eraser.
The Recordon was available until the mid-1950s when Thermionic switched to manufacturing the Swedish ‘Agavox’ recorder. Our Recordon was donated to the museum in the early 1990s by Catmose Vale Hospital, but we have no further information about its usage.
Technical information courtesy of the Museum of Obsolete Media