Webster Wire Recorder Model 80-1 (1947)

The main form of audio reproduction at the time was reel to reel recorders which came out in the 1940s.
Wire recorders use magnetized steel wire to record and playback sounds such as music or voices.
Webster Chicago was a leading company producing both reel to reel recorders and wire recorders, which were both used in the 1940s and 1950s. Metal oxide tape replaced the steel wire recorders in the early 1950s.

Working with wire spools was difficult. Issues such as the wire unspooling or the hair thin wire moving in the machine can snap the wire, or you get a big ball of tangled wire very quickly. The wire would move about 2 feet per second in the machine. Once the metal wire snapped, you can not splice it back.

The origins of the wire recorder go much further back. Valdemar Poulsen invented a device called the Telegraphone in 1899. It was a telephone answer machine. Based on the Edison phonograph, but using steel wire, it can record up to 30 minutes. He also released a more simple version that recorded 2 minutes of audio on a 5 inch steel disc. Wire recorders remained in limited use until vacuum amplifier tubes were developed between 1906-1915. By the 1920s wire recorders were used in radio broadcasting and military use. The BBC used them until switching to tape during the 1950s.

This unit runs on AC 105-120 Volts using about 65 watts.

There is about 1 mile of very fine steel wire on each roll, can hold about 1 hour of audio.

The Webster wire recorder Model 80-1 sold for about $150 at launch, with inflation accounted for is about $1,600 in 2018.






This link has a lot of useful info in the comments on where the fuse is, how to fix the microphone, etc:


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