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Re: [ARSCLIST] 1/4" Record and Playback head

The Bell had 1/4 track heads (one erase, one record/play), with TWO  
independent preamps, interconnected so as to have a single bias frequency. It  
worked, but wasn't great.  I soon replaced it with another RR recorder  (can't 
recall which anymore).
Don Chichester
In a message dated 6/10/2009 9:29:56 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
mbiel@xxxxxxxxx writes:

I was in  the market for my first tape recorder at precisely that moment,
so I can  tell you that RCA was not the first one out with quarter-track
stereo,  certainly not with the cartridge.  Don might be right about that
Bell  -- IF it has a quarter track head -- because Bells were originally
half  track.  Ampex is said to have been involved in setting the
standard,  and they might have hit the market first with the models Tom
Fine  mentioned, probably followed by Viking.  RCA announced their
cartridge  in late 1958 or early 59, and when I saw it promoted at the
RCA Exhibition  hall I decided to get it, but thankfully they ran into
production problems  which gave me time to regain my sanity and go for
open reel.  In July  59 my father went in to order a Wollensak 1515 for
me but was handed the  brochure where Wollensak/Revere announced their
4-track options on their  stereo machines (Such as the Wollensak
T-1515-4), their replacement head  block adapter kit to allow for
upgrades from 2-track to 4-track, and the  new Wollensak T-1600/1616
series, the latter not ever having had a 2-track  stereo version.  

Then the steel strike came and closed down  almost all industry.  We
ordered a T-1616 in July but it didn't come  until the second week in
February 1960 although I did see one on display in  the early fall.  The
country literally had no steel to make anything  that needed steel.  (My
father was also in the market to quickly  replace a car that had gotten
wrecked in September, and the only new cars  that had been made before
the strike were barely able to satisfy the dealer  display needs.  The
only way he was able to get a new car when we  found one on the floor
that was exactly what we wanted was to take the full  amount in cash out
of his pocket and lay it on the table in front of the  salesman.  Maybe
he should have done the same thing when we saw that  1616 on display
around that same time, but we alreay had it on order in a  different

Despite that article in the Oct 59  Popular Electronics, RCA never did
get all three of their first cartridge  models on the market, let alone
get them in the stores before  Christmas.  The least expensive one
arrived around March or April  1960, and the most expensive one with
auto-reverse and some other advanced  features never was sold in one
piece.  About a year or two later it  was sold in pieces --literally-- by
the Burnstein-Appleby catalog in Kansas  City.  They sold the empty case,
the amplifier, the speaker, the deck,  the microphones, all separately. 
You could get the deck and use your own  amp.  You could buy the amp and
use it with a different deck like the  amp-less Viking.  You could buy
the case and use it for something  else.  Or buy all the pieces and put
together a soon-to-be-obsolete  white elephant.  

The Oct 59 magazine came out in Sept, and  probably closed in late July
or early August.  The full effects of the  steel strike were not yet
known at that time.  Magazine articles about  FUTURE items are never
anywhere near reliable as looking thru store ads in  newspapers which
will not include items without notice that they do not  actually have in
stock to sell. 

From: "Scott D.  Smith" 
> Richard's citation of 1958 sounds about right to me.  

Actually, Richard cited 1959.  It was Tom and Don who cited  58.

>The RCA cartridges I have in my collection are definitely 1958,  though.

With the production problems with the machines, I doubt the  tapes
actually were released in 1958 because RCA was not even planning  on
getting their machines out before 1959.  Bell was the other  major
manufacturer of machines for this system, and I don't think  their
machines hit the streets before late 59. 

Mike Biel   mbiel@xxxxxxxxx  

Stewart Adam wrote:
>>>> Does any  one know when the first 1/4" 4 track recorders became
>>>>  available. Either professional or consumer

arclists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  writes:
>>> October 1959 just in time for 1959 Christmas  shopping--both
>>> reel-to-reel and the RCA Sound Tape Cartridge  format.

From:  Don Chichester <Dnjchi@xxxxxxx>
>> I recall buying a Bell  stereorecorder in 1958, the year I was married.
>> Don  Chichester

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