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Norma Shearer takes voice test in 1927
Norma Shearer


Ever since we purchased the Jack Mullin Collection in 1991, we've been puzzled and intrigued by the early wire recorder shown in the picture with Norma Shearer (at right).

We didn't realize at the time that we were looking at
a 1911 Poulsen Model C Telegraphone, similar to,
or perhaps the very same one that was the cornerstone of the Ampex Museum display chronicling the history of magnetic recording.




Poulsen Telegraphone

Poulsen wire recorder



In July of 2004, the machine was brought to the Museum by the fellow who had restored it for Ampex. The high-level negotiations that followed resulted in a new home for one of the most significant examples of early recording technology in the world; right here where it belongs.







Telegraphone Inside View
Inside view of Telegraphone

Technological historian and former Ampex Museum curator Peter Hammar described the Model C thusly: "Valdemar Poulsen [inventor of wire recording] intended his early wire recorders to be used either as office dictation machines or telephone answering devices. The most successful of the early office dictation Telegraphones was the Model C, with horizontally-mounted spools for better wire control. The 100-volt (DC) device was relay-controlled via a handy foot switch. The tubeless electronics used standard telephone circuitry. Maximum recording time was 30 minutes. The DC bias recording can be made in either direction. The Model C features a 100-volt DC electric motor end-of-wire alarm buzzer, and an automatic stop. A remote switch box with a recording time indicator and telephone dictation handset is used to control the machine."