I'm not sure about the USA, but I bought a 4 track machine in Japan in
1959. I had it for years but finally had to get rid of it in the 70s
because I couldn't find anyone to repair it. Jack
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Biel" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 9:27 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] 1/4" Record and Playback head
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 [log in to unmask]
Stewart Adam wrote:
>>>> Does any one know when the first 1/4" 4 track recorders became
>>>> available. Either professional or consumer
[log in to unmask] writes:
>>> October 1959 just in time for 1959 Christmas shopping--both
>>> reel-to-reel and the RCA Sound Tape Cartridge format.
From: Don Chichester <[log in to unmask]>
>> I recall buying a Bell stereorecorder in 1958, the year I was married.
>> Don Chichester