The Magnecord Tape Recorder

Hanna, Phil. "U. S. Youth Still Shows Courage and Ingenuity." Chicago Daily News, July 29, 1946, p. 22.

"Those who think this generation of American youth has lost some of the traditional courage and ingenuity of the nation's builders ought to acquaint themselves with the five young 'partners' in Magnecord, Inc., 304 W. 63rd st. Here one sees two former combat correspondents in the Pacific and three electronic technicians teamed up. They've started manufacturing special purpose high fidelity wire recording machines for radio station recording, motion picture producing and other scientific work. Among other products is an anti-wire tapping device. After a message is put on a wire recorder, the device 'scrambles' the message as it is being transmitted. That makes it unintelligible. At the receiving end the device 'unscrambles' the message, and the recording 'plays' the message properly.

Magnecord, Inc., is operating under a license from the Armour Research Foundation along with 30 other licensees. But the other licenses are devoting themselves to mass-produced wire recorders for home and office use, while these boys are looking toward demands from the technical and professional field. Their rcorder is designed for special, high-grade work, such as recording unusual sound phenomena in research laboratories.

R. J. Tinkham, president, is an Armour Research man and a graduate of the University of Illinois. He is an acoustical engineer, did research work on wire recorders and other special devices for the Bureau of Ordnance, U.S.N., during the war. John S. Boyer, chief engineer, another Armour man, did research on underwater sound devices at the New London (Conn.) laboratory of Columbia University. He also did research work on radar at the radiation laboratory of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Frederick A. Baxter, secretary, and C. G. Barker, sales manager, were war combat correspondents in the Pacific for three years; made the first combat wire recording at Mount Tapotachu on Saipan; made the first recordings for Army air shows. Their recordings were sent to the United States for use by radio stations and to Honolulu for conversion into wax records which were distributed over the United States. Barker worked at Armour Research Foundation prior to forming Magnecord. R. L. Landon, another Armour man, fifth member of the 'Five Horsemen,' is production manager. He worked on atomic bomb research at the University of Chicago and had war plant production experience. . . ."
Hanna, Phil. "Recorders Pay Off For 5 Young Men." Chicago Daily News, Nov. 30, 1949, p. 42.

"Back in July, 1946, I wrote about five young fellows who worked for the Research division of Illinois Institute of Technology. They set up shop at W. 63d st., to make a special purpose high-fidelity wire recorder. Their youthful enthusiasm for going into business on their own was notable. I had an idea they would succeed. So the other day I checked up to see what they had done in three and a half years on their own.

Like so many new firms, they altered their product in May, 1948. They are selling a tape recorder to broadcasting stations and other professional users. They tell me all national radio networks use their machines; that of a total of 3,000 professional users, they have 2,300 machines in use. They say they are doing special work for such firms as the Bell Telephone Laboratories.

The little firm, known as Magnecord Inc., has outgrown the 63d st. location with 2,000 square feet. It is now housed at 225 W. Ohio st. with 9,000 square feet. They have 90 employees compared with 12 at their former location, are doing $90,000 a month in sales. R. J. Tinkham, 38, is president. Their success is helped along by a vigorous sales policy. C. G. Barker, 28, sales manager, says that no matter how good your product, it has to be sold by intensive solicitation. He doesn't believe in the 'better mousetrap' theory. He set up 11 regional factory representatives and 106 distributors, and says business is especially good in the Southeast - that Georgia is booming. J. S. Boyer, 34, is chief engineer. He has four other young engineers constantly working to better the product. R. L. Landon, 32, is production manager, which rounds out about the most closely knit top organization I have recently seen. F. A. Baxter, the fifth of the original group, left the organization.

'Don't think we didn't have our troubles,' says Tinkham - 'we know what a 70-hour week is. But Chicago firms helped, the bank helped - and now we can see daylight.' A net worth of $121,000 seems to confirm."
Canby, Edward Tatnall. "The New Recordings." Saturday Review, August 13, 1949.

" with the newer, second-round crop of home tape machines is undeniably easy and increasingly foolproof. The first machines, like most new gadgets, were over-elaborate and bug-ridden. Things went wrong. The pioneer Soundmirror was a typical first-off product, with its three separate motors, baffling handfuls of interlock switches, automatic starts and stops that went haywire (for me anyway). Its successor is far more tractable, and recording procedure is currently being even more streamlined in dozens of sharply competing new models.

The average home machine runs at seven and one-half inches per second, half the professional tape speed, in either single-track or double-track form, giving home-type sound quality generally a bit better than equivalent disc phonographs, tonal range from 5000 or so (too low) up to 8000, somewhat less than 'high fidelity.' Single-track machines run a half hour per 1200 ft. roll, double-track models two half hours, the tape running through twice. The 'Twin-Trax,' [made by Amplifier Corporation of America] with automatic reverse, gives an unbroken hour per roll. Double-track is economical but note that it cannot be cut and spliced as can single-track tape - a major disadvantage in some cases.

For those who must have real hi-fi, the ne plus ultra is the Magnecord. This single-track recorder, no larger nor heavier than most home models and as easy to operate, is built to thoroughly professional standards, mechanically and electrically, competes with professional equipment costing in the thousands. It runs at either home or professional speeds, giving superb quality on both, full FM tonal range on the higher speed. The Magnecord comes in various separate-unit professional combinations, a complete outfit running from $650 up, the tape transport unit $275 or so (but builidng the electronic equipment to match is a highly technical job.) A simplified home-adapted outfit minus engineers' gadgets can be made up for you for about $500 - use your own playback amplifier and speaker. Electronic Workshop, 351 Bleecker St., New York 14, will do it. Music recorded on this from local (wide-range) FM symphony broadcasts is fabulous. I've heard nothing to compare with it in any form of disc recording whatsoever."
revised 7/6/05 by Steven Schoenherr | Recording Technology History
1952 invitation, courtesy of Richard S. Landon
Magnecorder Model SD-1, from Semi Begun 1949
Magnecord PT-6 tape recorder, ca. 1948
in Audio, Dec, 1988 - Pictures