Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mislaid recording of Martin Luther King, Jr. speech found after 50 years

Tomorrow we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. On NPR I heard a story about how Archivist finds long-lost recording of Martin Luther King speech at UCLA

That speech from April 27, 1965 now is out on YouTube, along with others archived at UCLA by their Communication Studies Department.

Reading about that recording made me think about having a tape recorder in the home when I was growing up. In 1962 my dad made a business trip to Japan. He brought back a corrugated cardboard carrier holding a little salmon-colored Sony TC211 portable that used 5” reels. It still used vacuum tubes rather than transistors. You can see photos of that model and a YouTube video.

I remember being shocked the first time I heard what my voice sounded like. My four siblings and I carried the recorder from room to room, and accidentally dropped it many times.

Eventually the recorder needed repair, so I found the Sams Photofact service manual for the similar, later TC211TS (with a transistorized slide projector synchronizer) at the main public library. Finally we destroyed the tape transport, although the electronics were still fine.

Then I found an inexpensive surplus tape transport for a 7” reel-to-reel machine was being advertised in the classified ads at the back of Popular Electronics magazine. We bought one, mounted it in a homemade plywood box, and transplanted the Sony chassis. We replaced it with a cassette recorder after almost a decade.       

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