Some of these records are at NYPL. Check with Seth Winner who had occasion
to handle them, I think.
I also seem to recall there was a lawsuit about records sold using this
system. In NY state. There may well be useful info in the depositions for
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: Tuesday, November 05, 2013 9:25 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] some articles from Sanford/Palo Alto papers on James A.
These articles are interesting, but raise some questions:
The longer article talks about Miller's "magnetic recording" invention and
juxtaposes it in competition with German tape developments in the 1930s. As
I understand Miller's system that Philips made and sold, and Miller's
patents related to that system, his was not a magnetic recording system as
in a magnetic head inducing a field onto magnetic media. Rather, it was a
system which used electromagnetism to drive a cutting stylus which cut an
opitcally-reproduced soundtrack onto black-coated film stock.
Miller's patents covering this are US2034111 amd US1919116, and there are
also patents for the coated-film "recording blanks."
Did Miller also invent a magnetic-induction recording system? I have never
seen any details on this.
Miller was my father's first employer and an early mentor. By the late
1930's, Miller operated a film-sound studio in Queens or Manhattan (not sure
of exact location). My father started work there as a teenager, shaving wax
recording blanks. Miller was an expert at cutting stylus systems, and
developed a high-fidelity, high dynamic range disk-cutting system that used
no electronic feedback (it was mechanically damped, and each cutterhead
needed to be hand-tuned against resonances). The Miller cutting system was
part of the "secret sauce" of the mono-era Mercury Living Presence records,
along with the Fine-Fairchild Margin Control system, which allowed for wide
dynamics and classical-length LP sides as early as 1952.
As far as I know, the Philips-Miller film-recording system was used only by
a few organizations in Europe. I've wondered why it wasn't adopted in
Hollywood, because it would have allowed instantaneous playback and would
have been very useful in such activities as location sound recording and
dialog looping. Perhaps the machines were not interlockable? Or was it a
typical "not invented here" thing? As I understand it, until magnetic-film
recorders were developed in the late 40's, the only way to get instantaneous
playback in Hollywood was to run disk recorders at the same time as optical
Does anyone know a source for more information on Mr. Miller? I've been able
to find only sketchy info online. As far as I know, he made relatively few
Miller cutterheads and even fewer Philips-Miller recorders. Perhaps there is
more information buried somewhere at Stanford?
-- Tom Fine