Stanford does have a James A. Miller Collection. A little more information
On Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 7:37 AM, Steven Smolian <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 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
> -----Original Message-----
> 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
> 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
> playback in Hollywood was to run disk recorders at the same time as optical
> film recorders.
> Does anyone know a source for more information on Mr. Miller? I've been
> 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
> more information buried somewhere at Stanford?
> -- Tom Fine