More Gizmos A - Z

Kvarts DRSB-01 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-88 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-90 Geiger Count

Kyoto S600 8-Track Player

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

Microphax Case II Fiche

Midland 12-204 Tape Rccorder

Mini Com Walkie Talkies

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

Nagra SN Tape Recorder

National Hyper BII Flashgun

National RQ-115 Recorder

NatWest 24 Hour Cashcard

Nife NC10 Miner's Lamp

Nimslo 3D Camera

NOA FM Wireless Intercom

Nokia 9210 Communicator

Novelty AM Radio Piano

Olympia DG 15 S Recorder

Onkyo PH-747 Headphones

Optikon Binocular Magnifier

Oric Atmos Home PC

Panda & Bear Radios

Panasonic AG-6124 CCTV VCR

Panasonic EB-2601 Cellphone

Panasonic Toot-A-Loop Radio

Panasonic RS-600US

Parrot RSR-423 Recorder

Penguin Phone PG-600

Pentax Asahi Spotmatic SLR

Philatector Watermark Detector

PH Ltd Spinthariscope

Philips CD 150 CD Player

Philips Electronic Kit

Philips EL3302 Cassette

Philips EL3586 Reel to Reel

Philips PM85 Recorder

Philips P3G8T/00 Radio

Philips VLP-700 LaserDisc

Pifco 888.998 Lantern Torch

Pion TC-601 Tape Recorder

PL802/T Semconductor Valve

Plessey PDRM-82 Dosimeter

Polaroid Automatic 104

Polaroid Land Camera 330

Polaroid Supercolor 635CL

Polaroid Swinger II

Polavision Instant Movie

POM Park-O-Meter

Prinz 110 Auto Camera

Prinz Dual 8 Cine Editor

Prinz TCR20 B&W TV

Psion Series 3a PDA

Psion Organiser II XP

Pye 114BQ Portable Radio

Pye TMC 1705 Test Phone

Rabbit Telepoint Phone

Quali-Craft Slimline Intercom

RAC Emergency Telephone

Racal Acoustics AFV Headset

Radofin Triton Calculator

Raytheon Raystar 198 GPS

Realistic TRC 209 CB

ReVox A77 Tape Recorder

Roberts R200 MW/LW Radio

Rolling Ball Clock

Rolls Royce Car Radio

Ronco Record Vacuum

Royal/Royco 410 Recorder

Sanyo G2001 Music Centre

Sanyo M35 Micro Pack

Satellite AM/FM Radio

Satvrn TDM-1200 Sat Box

Science Fair 65 Project Kit

Seafarer 5 Echo Sounder

Seafix Radio Direction Finder

Seiko EF302 Voicememo

Seiko James Bond TV Watch

Sekiden SAP50 Gun

Shackman Passport Camera

Sharp CT-660 Talking Clock

Shira WT106 Walkie Talkies

Shira WT-605 Walkie Talkies

Shogun Music Muff

Simpson 389 Ohmmeter

Sinclair Calculator

Sinclair Black Watch

Sinclair FM Radio Watch

Sinclair FTV1 Pocket TV

Sinclair Micro-6 Radio

Sinclair Micro FM Radio

Sinclair Micromatic Radio

Sinclair Micromatic Kit (Unbuilt)

Sinclair MTV1A Micovision TV

Sinclair MTV1B Microvision TV

Sinclair PDM-35 Multimeter

Sinclair System 2000 Amp

Sinclair Super IC-12

Sinclair X1 Burtton Radio

Sinclair Z-1 Micro AM Radio

Sinclair Z-30 Amplifier

Sinclair ZX81

Smiths SR/D366 Gauge Tester

Speak & Spell

Sony Betamovie BMC-200

Sony CFS-S30 'Soundy'

Sony DD-8 Data Discman

Sony CM-H333 Phone

Sony CM-R111 Phone

Sony FD-9DB Pocket TV

Sony M-100MC Mic'n Micro

Sony MDR3 Headphones

Sony MVC-FD71 Digicam

Sony TC-50 Recorder

Sony TC-55 Recorder

Sony Walkman TPS-L2

Sony Rec Walkman WM-R2

Speedex Hit Spy Camera

Standard Slide Rule

Starlite Pocket Mate Tape

Staticmaster Static Brush

Steepletone MBR7 Radio

Stellaphone ST-456 Recorder

Stuzzi 304B Memocorder


Talkboy Tape Recorder

Taylor Barograph

Tasco SE 600 Microscope

Technicolor Portable VCR

Telephone 280 1960

Telex MRB 600 Headset

Thunderbirds AM Can Radio

Tinico Tape Recorder

Tokai TR-45 Tape Recorder

Tomy Electronic Soccer

Toshiba HX-10 MSX Computer

Triumph CTV-8000 5-inch TV

TTC C1001 Multimeter

Uher 400 RM Report Monitor

Vanity Fair Electron Blaster

Vextrex Video Game

VideoPlus+ VP-181 Remote

Vidor Battery Radio

View-Master Stereo Viewer

Vivalith 301 Heart Pacemaker

VTC-200 Video Tape Cleaner

Waco Criuser AM Radio

Waco TV Slide Lighter

Wallac Oy RD-5 Geiger Counter

Weller X-8250A Soldering Gun

W E Co Folding Phone

White Display Ammeter

Wittner Taktell Metronome


Yamaha Portasound PC-10

Yashica AF Motor 35mm

Yupiteru MVT-8000 Scanner

Dusty Navigation



Crystal Radios

Transistor Radios

Mini Tape Recorders


Sinclair TVs


Gizmo Gallery

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Clocks Watches Calcs

Computers & Games

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Miscellaneous & Oddities

Phones & Comms

Radio & Audio

Tape Recorders & Players

Test & Scientific Instruments

TV & Video


Gizmos A - Z

Accoson Sphygmomanometer

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

AKG K290 Surround 'Phones

Amerex Alpha One Spycorder

Amstrad NC100 Notepad

AN/PRC-6 Walkie Talkie

Astatic D-104 Desk Microphone

Apple Macintosh SE FDHD

Avia Electronic Watch

Aitron Wrist Radio

Aiwa TP-60R Tape Recorder

Amstrad CPC 464 Computer

AlphaTantel Prestel

Atari 2600 Video Game

Atari 600XL Home Computer

Audiotronic LSH 80 'Phones

AVO Multiminor

AVO Model 8 Multimeter

Bambino Challenger Radio

Bandai Solar LCD Game

Baygen Freeplay Lantern

Bellwood, Bond Spycorder

Benkson 79 Mini Tape Recorder

Betacom BF1 Pianotel Phone

Binatone Digivox Alarm

Binatone Long Ranger 6 CB

Binatone Mk6 Video Game

Bio Activity Translator

Biri-1 Radiation Monitor

Bowmar LED Digital Watch

Boots CRTV-50 TV,Tape, Radio

Brydex Ever Ready Lighter

BSB Squarial

BT Genie Phone

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

Channel Master 6546

Chinon 722-P Super 8 Cine

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

Craig 212 Tape Recorder

Craig TR-408 tape recorder

Dansette Richmond Radio

Daiya TV-X Junior  Viewer

Dancing Coke Can

Dawe Transistor Stroboflash

Diamond Rio Media Player

Dictograph Desk Phone

Direct Line Phones x2

Dokorder PR-4K Mini Tape

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

GE 3-5805 AM CB Radio

GEC Transistomatic

GEC Voltmeter

General Radiological NE 029-02

Giant Light Bulbs

Giant Watch-Shaped  Radio

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

H&G Crystal Radio

Hacker Radio Hunter RP38A

Hacker Radio Mini Herald

Hanimex Disc Camera

Harvard Batalion 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

Homey HR-408 Recorder

Horstmann Pluslite Task Lamp

Ianero Polaris Spotlight

Ingersoll XK505 TV, Radio

International HP-1000 Radio

Internet Radio S-11

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 EK2 'The Handle'

Kodak EK160 Instant Camera

Kodak Pony 135




We tend to take audio recording pretty much for granted nowadays. My local ‘pound shop’ was recently selling some nasty little Walkman style cassette players and key ring voice memo recorders for a quid apiece, but back in the early sixties reel-to-reel tape recorders were a luxury item, a bit like large screen plasma TVs are today and very few homes would have had one.


At that time most ‘domestic’ tape recorders were big and expensive and mostly used valves. Transistors were just starting to have an impact but early semiconductors were inefficient and expensive and couldn’t match the power of valves when it came to amplification


It was a time of great change in tape recording technology and Philips was working to perfect the Compact Cassette but even when cassette tape recorders started to appear in quantity, in the mid 60s, they were still quite pricey. Nevertheless, for those on a very tight budget, like me, there were ways to acquire one of these magical machines, thanks to countless small Japanese factories, churning out cheap little battery powered reel-to-reel tape recorders, typically costing Ł3 to Ł5. Most of them used 3-inch tapes, which gave around ten to fifteen minutes recording time


The key difference between these machines and ‘proper’ tape recorders was the extremely simple tape transport tape mechanism.


To ensure recording quality and consistency it is essential that the tape passes the recording head at a constant speed and on the majority of tape recorders, past and present, this is achieved by pulling the tape past the heads using a rotating capstan and a pinch roller that grips the tape. This requires a lot of mechanical bits and bobs, pulleys belts and precision motors, which obviously feeds through into the price.


The little Japanese tape recorders we’re about to look at went right back to basics and used a ‘rim-drive’ mechanisms. In other words the motor, and there’s just the one of them, drives the tape capstans directly with a long spindle that comes into contact with the rubber rims of the capstans. The disadvantage is that whilst the take up reel rotates at a more or less constant velocity the speed at which the tape passes the head gradually decreases as the reel fills up.


This is not a huge problem when the tape is played back on the machine it was recorded on, but if it’s played on another rim-drive or capstan drive machine the speed variation will ruin the recording. Though to be honest the quality of most rim-drive machines is pretty dire, they were essentially toys, but that is part of their charm and take it from me, back then it didn’t matter. It seemed nothing short of miraculous to be able to record and then more or less instantly hear the sound of your own voice (even if it was mostly ‘testing one-two-three-four’). As I recall I didn’t bother recording much music, the quality was too poor and there wasn’t much worth taping on the radio in those days…


Manufacturers came up with various other ingenious cost-cutting strategies that helped to keep the prices down. The ‘erase’head, which is necessary to remove the old recording before a new one can be made, is usually a tiny permanent magnet on a swing arm that comes into contact with the tape when the machine is in record mode. There also was no fast-forward mode, just rewind and that was usually torturously slow.


We’ll be looking at some classic examples of the genre in Spycorders but we’ll round off with a few unusual sixties mini tape recorders that used tape cartridges or cassettes instead of open reels. These were the forerunners of the Compact Cassette, failed formats that generally lasted only a few years and which have now become highly collectible


These pocket size recorders were mostly designed for use in offices, as dictating machines and for taking memos. In the main they used capstan drive mechanisms so they were not cheap. Relatively few were made so the ones that have survived are now highly prized and much sought after by collectors.


The earliest one in my collection is the American Midgetape 44 or ‘Mohawk Midget', which is actually quite a lump, though just about pocket size. It probably dates from the late 1950s or very early 60s and uses valves rather than transistors. The tape reels are arranged in ‘tandem’ format, one on top of the other, and housed in a metal case. There’s only a single record or playback mode, fast wind is achieved by cranking a folding handle on the outside of the case.  Unbelievably this one does still work, though the high-tension batteries it requires are no longer available.


The next machine, also dating from the very early 60s is a Minifon Attaché.  This is one of a long line of precision pocket dictating machines from this German company. Earlier models, which look very similar to this one use wire instead of magnetic tape. This example uses a cassette with the reels arranged side by side, and like compact cassette, it could be flipped over to double the recording time.


The Grundig EN3 (above) is without doubt the most successful of the early cassette dictating machines and the one you are most likely to still find in junk shops and on ebay. It’s a brilliant piece of engineering, using a side-by-side cassette that forms part of the body of the machine. The detachable microphone/speaker on the top makes it look a little like a large electric razor.


Sanyo dallied briefly with its own proprietary cassette format in the mid 60s, called the Micro Pack and it was quite successful for a while. It’s another tandem type cassette, with a rim-drive mechanism, so it was probably aimed at the home user rather than serious office applications. It was really well built -- the case is all metal and recording quality is not half bad either. A lot of machines were sold in the US under the Channel Master brand (above) and they still turn up occasionally on ebay and I was lucky enough to come across a small batch of ‘new’ and unused tapes a while ago.


I know very little about this last machine except that it is badged ‘Memo Call’ and made in Japan. I’ve never seen another one like it, so I’m guessing it came and went in a very short space of time. It is fairly unremarkable except that the cassette uses a single reel. Tape is drawn from the centre of the reel and deposited on the outside. It is must be incredibly stressful on the tape and I suspect very unreliable, nevertheless it does still work, though I’ve only dared to use it once or twice for fear of shortening it’s life, which is already on borrowed time.


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