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Gizmos A - Z

Accoson Sphygmomanometer

Acos SLM3 Sound Level Meter

Acoustic Coupler

Advance PP5 Stabilised PSU

Aibo ERS-111 Robotic Pet

Aiwa LX-110 Linear Turntable

Aiwa TP-32A Tape Recorder

Alcatel Minitel 1 Videotex

Aldis Folding Slide Viewer

Alpha-Tek Pocket Radio

Airlite 71 Aviation Headset

Aitron Wrist Radio

Aiwa TP-60R Tape Recorder

AKG K290 Surround 'Phones

Amerex Alpha One Spycorder

Amstrad em@iler

Amstrad NC100 Notepad

AN/PRC-6 Walkie Talkie

Apple Macintosh SE FDHD

Amstrad CPC 464 Computer

AlphaTantel Prestel

Astatic D-104 Desk Microphone

Atari 2600 Video Game

Atari 600XL Home Computer

Audiotronic LSH 80 'Phones

Avia Electronic Watch

Avid Pneumatic Headphones

AVO Multiminor

AVO Model 8 Multimeter

Bambino Challenger Radio

Bandai Solar LCD Game

Barlow Wadley XCR-30 Radio

B&O Beocom 2000 Phone

Baygen Freeplay Lantern

Bellwood, Bond Spycorder

Benkson 79 Mini Tape Recorder

Betacom BF1 Pianotel Phone

Betacom CP/6 Ferrari Phone

Binatone Digivox Alarm

Binatone Long Ranger 6 CB

Binatone Mk6 Video Game

Binatone Worldstar Radio

Binotone Radio Binoculars

Bio Activity Translator

Biri-1 Radiation Monitor

Bolex Paillard 155 Cine Camera

Bowmar LED Digital Watch

Boots CRTV-50 TV,Tape, Radio

Beseler PM2 Color Analyzer

Brolac Camera In A Can

Brydex Ever Ready Lighter

BSB Squarial

BT CT6000 Moneybox Payphone

BT Genie Phone

BT Linesmans Phone 282A

BT Rhapsody Leather Phone

Cambridge Z88 Computer

Candlestick Telephone

Canon Ion RC-260 Camera

Cartex TX-160 Multiband Radio

Casio VL-Tone Keyboard

CD V-700 Geiger Counter

CD V-715 Survey Meter

CDV-717 Survey Meter

CD V-742 Pen Dosimeter

Central C-7980EN Multimeter

Channel Master 6546

Chinon 722-P Super 8 ciné

Citizen Soundwich Radio Watch

Citizen ST555 Pocket TV

Clairtone Mini Hi Fi Radio

CocaCola Keychain Camera

Coke Bottle AM Radio

Commodore 64 Home PC

Commodore PET 2001-N

Computer Novelty AM/FM Radio

Compact Marine SX-25

Concord F20 Sound Camera

Coomber 2241-7 CD Cassette

Contamination Meter No.1

Craig 212 Tape Recorder

Craig TR-408 tape recorder

C-Scope ProMet II Detector

Dansette Richmond Radio

Daiya TV-X Junior  Viewer

Dancing Coke Can

Dawe Transistor Stroboflash

Decca RP 205 Record Player

Decimo Vatman 120D Calc

Diamond Rio Media Player

Dictograph Desk Phone

Direct Line Phones x2

Dokorder PR-4K Mini Tape

DP-66M Geiger Counter

Duvidal FT-66 Tape Recorder

Eagle Ti.206 Intercom

Eagle T1-206 Intercom

Eagle International Loudhailer

Electrolysis Cell

Electron 52D Spycorder

Electronicraft Project Kit

Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart Radio

EMS Stammering Oscillator

Ericsson Ericofon Cobra Phone

Etalon Luxor Light Meter

Euromarine Radiofix Mk 5

Exactus Mini Add Calculator

Fairylight Morse Set

FEP Microphone & Earphone

Ferguson FC08 Camcorder

Ferguson FHSC 1 Door Cam

Fi-Cord 101 Tape Recorder

Fi-Cord 202 Tape Recorder

Fidelity HF42 Record Player

Fisher-Price 826 Cassette

Fleetwood Globe AM Radio

Franklin LF-390 Guitar Radio

Gaertner Pioneer Geiger Counter

Garmin GPS III Pilot Satnav

GE 3-5805 AM CB Radio

GE 3-5908 Help CB Radio

GEC C11B2 Electricity Meter

GEC Transistomatic

GEC Voltmeter

General Radiological NE 029-02

Gfeller Eiger Phone

Giant Light Bulbs

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Gowlland Auriscope

GPO Headset No. 1

GPO Keysender No 5

GPO RAF Microphone No. 3

GPO Telephone Series 300

GPO Telephone Type 746

GPO 12B/1 Test Meter

GPO Trimphone

GPO Ring Microphone No 2

Gramdeck Tape Recorder

Grandstand Video Console

Grundig EN3 Dictation

Grundig Memorette

Grundig TK-141 Tape Recorder

H&G Crystal Radio

Hacker Radio Hunter RP38A

Hacker Radio Mini Herald

Hanimex Disc Camera

Harvard Batalion Radio

Heathkit GR-70 Multiband Radio

Henica H-138 Radio Lighter

Hero HP-101 Intercom

Hitachi MP-EG-1A Camcorder

Hitachi WH-638 Radio

Hitachi VM-C1 Camcorder

HMV 2210 Tape Recorder

Homer KT-505 Phone Amplifier

Homey HR-408 Recorder

Horstmann Pluslite Task Lamp

Ianero Polaris Spotlight

Ingersoll XK505 TV, Radio

International HP-1000 Radio

Internet Radio S-11

IR Binoculars No 1 Mk 1

ITT KB Super AM/FM Radio

Ivalek De Luxe Crystal Radio

James Bond TV Watch

Jasa AM Wristwatch Radio

Juliette LT-44 Tape Recorder

Jupiter FC60 Radio

JVC GR-C1 Camcorder

JVC GX-N7E Video Camera



King Folding Binoculars

Kodak Brownie Starflash

Kodak 56X Instamatic

Kodak 100 Instamatic

Kodak Disc 6000

Kodak EK2 'The Handle'

Kodak EK160 Instant Camera

Kodak Pony 135

Koss ESP-6 Headphones

Kvarts DRSB-01 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-88 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-90 Geiger Count

Kyoto S600 8-Track Player

La Pavoni Espresso Machine

Macarthys Surgical AM Radio

Magnetic Core Memory 4kb

Maplin YU-13 Video Stabilizer

Marlboro Giant  AM Radio

Mattel Intellivision

Maxcom Cordless Phone

McArthur Microscope OU

Memo Call Tape Recorder

Micronta 22-195A Multimeter

Micronta 3001 Metal Detector

Micronta S-100 Signal Injector

Microphax Case II Fiche

Midland 12-204 Tape Rccorder

Mini Com Walkie Talkies

Mini Instruments 5.40 Geiger

Minifon Attaché Tape Recorder

Minolta 10P 16mm Camera

Minolta-16 II Sub Min Camera

Minolta XG-SE 35mm SLR

Minolta Weathermatic-A

Minox B Spy Camera

Mohawk Chief Tape Recorder

Motorola 5000X Bag Phone

Motorola 8500X ‘Brick’

Motorola Micro TAC Classic

MPMan MP-F20 MP3 Player

Music Man Talking Radio

Mystery Microphone



Widget Of The Week

Ehrcorder TP-421 Mini Tape Recorder, 1964

As cheap mini tape recorders from the early sixties go the Ehrcorder TP-421 is fairly unremarkable, except that this one, and a few others like it are still here and often in good working order. It’s a real survivor and that’s largely due to the uncomplicated, robust design.


The TP-421 was one of hundreds of mini reel-to-reel tape recorders on the market at the time. The vast majority of them were essentially toys, and this was reflected in the price, typically between £3.00 and £5.00. Recording quality was generally poor, but it didn’t matter too much for speech or a pop song sing along and almost every youngster back then wanted to get their hands on a ‘real’ working tape recorder. As it happened proper grown up reel-to-reel tape recorders were still far from common in the home. In fact most people regarded them as rather exotic, expensive, big, heavy and difficult to use. However, the real problem was the price, and the simple reason that apart from the odd radio program there wasn’t much worth recording…


On the other hand mini tape recorders like the TR-241 were cheap enough to be playthings, for kids of all ages. A few of the more serious looking machines – and the TP241 fitted the bill – could be even used as basic dictating machines or for taking memos. The 75mm (3-inch) reels, which gave around 10 to 15 minutes recording time also happened to be a convenient size and length for ‘voice letters’ to send to distant friends and relatives. They could also seem quite glamorous; some if them made it into the movies and on TV. They made perfect props, as ’spycorders’, playing vital roles in secret agent shows like Mission Impossible, Danger Man, The Man From U.N.C.L.E and of course the James Bond films. Sadly I am not aware of this particular model making it on the large or small screen but I would be very surprised if it hadn’t made at least one appearance.     


There are no frills or fripperies and thanks to the ultra simple rim-drive tape transport mechanism, no fast forward function, just Play, Record, Stop and Rewind. A single chrome lever protruding from the front right hand corner of the case controls everything, apart from the volume. It is connected to a rotary switch and coupled to a sliding bar that tips the motor to the right or left. This presses the rotating spindle onto the rubber-rimmed tape platter on the left, for the rewind function, and an idler wheel pressing against the take-up reel on the right for playback and recording modes. Another common feature that helped keep the cost down is the permanent magnet erase head. This is also attached to the sliding bar and in record mode it is pressed against the tape, erasing whatever was on it, just before it passes over the recording head. There is little to go wrong, which has to be one of the reasons why the tape mechanisms on these 50 plus year old machines often still work, even after years of inactivity. Other problems can and do occur, though, and the most common fault is failure of the electrolytic capacitors on the tiny amplifier board. Fortunately almost anyone handy with a screwdriver and soldering iron can swap them for modern replacements, costing just a few pence, in about half an hour.


The TR-241 came with a crystal lapel microphone and a magnetic earpiece, which plug into sockets on the front of the case. What look like two tiny metal handles at either end of the case are for a carry strap, which was also included with the outfit. Learning how to use it doesn’t take long, as you will see from the very brief instruction leaflet, which also helpfully includes a circuit diagram for the amplifier. This is one of four TP-241s in my collection, accumulated in the early days of online auctions, mostly from sellers in the US. They rarely cost more than £5.00, plus the same again for shipping. Happy times…


As I recall it needed just the usual capacitor swap, a re-grease of the moving parts and a squirt of switch cleaner on the volume control to get it running, and sounding, like new. The case and everything else that came with it had been well looked after by the original polystyrene packing, and for once it hadn’t reacted with the mic and earphone cables, which can melt into the foam. A quick word on sound quality, and yes, by current standards it is awful, noisy and incapable of recoding anything other than speech. The rim-drive mechanism suffers from the usual problem of speed stability, or rather the lack of it. It varies constantly, as one reel empties and the other fills up. As usual it doesn’t matter too much if recordings are replayed on the machine that made it (or an identical model) but on more advanced models with constant-speed capstan drives it just makes bad quality even worse.


What Happened To It?

Almost nothing has been written, (on the web or in the usual reference books) about the Ehrcorder name or brand. The only certainties are that it was made in Japan and it first appeared in the early 1960s. The TP-241 seems to be one of only two products bearing the Ehrcorder name (the other was a semi pro tape recorder, possibly dating from the late 70s), and unusually, the 241 doesn’t appear under any other guises. If anyone has any more information please let me know.


Predictably the TP-241 suffered the same fate as almost every other reel-to-reel tape recorder, small and large, from that era, and that was an almost total wipeout following the appearance of the Philips Compact Cassette format in 1963. It took the revolutionary newcomer a few years to get a foothold, but once the economies of scale kicked in, and the market for pre-recorded tapes (Musicassettes) had developed there was almost no reason for anyone want to buy a reel-to-reel tape recorder any more. Cassettes were superior in almost every respect that mattered, and although the sound quality of early machines left something to be desired, it was perfectly adequate for low-end and mid-range home hi-fi and portable use.


A few high-end models survived into the 70s and 80s, but the consequence of Compact Cassette’s appearance was that in the space of less than a decade an entire technology had become virtually obsolete. Vast numbers of reel-to-reel machines must have disappeared into landfill and small cheap models like the TP-241 were almost certainly the first to go. Nevertheless a few escaped the cull and got shoved into the backs of cupboards, lofts and garages and then forgotten. Those that made it in good condition into the twenty first century have become collector’s items and the few really rare or genuinely innovative models can command quite healthy prices. The small size, smart looks and a good chance of it working (or being fixable) makes the TP-241 quite desirable and every so often, when a particularly clean one appears on ebay it can sell for as much as £50.00, though £30 to £40 is more usual for well used examples. Enough of them were made for the occasional bargain to find its way onto the market, and over the years I’ve seen a few at car boot sales (though not recently) but there’s bound to be a few still out there so if you spot one, grab it!    


First seen:                        1964

Original Price:                  £4 19s 6d (£4.97)

Value Today:                    £30 (1117)

Features:                          2-track mono recording, single motor rim-drive mechanism 1 7/8 ips, permanent magnet erase, max reel size 75mm (3-inches), Single lever operation, transport modes: Play, Record, Rewind, Stop, built-in speaker (55mm), earphone & mic sockets (3.5mm jack), 4-transistor push-pull amplifier. Supplied accessories: crystal microphone, magnetic earphone, carry strap. 

Power req.                        2 x 1.5 volt C cells, 1 x 9 volt PP3

Dimensions:                      205 x 125 x 70 mm

Weight:                             840g

Made (assembled) in:       Japan

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):     6



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