Tape recorder

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An audio tape recorder, tape deck, reel-to-reel tape deck, cassette deck or tape machine is an audio storage device that records and plays back sounds, including articulated voices, usually using magnetic tape, either wound on a reel or in a cassette, for storage. In its present day form, it records a fluctuating signal by moving the tape across a tape head that polarizes the magnetic domains in the tape in proportion to the audio signal.



Earliest variant: non-magnetic wax strip recorder

Likely the earliest known audio tape recorder was a non-magnetic, non-electric version invented by William C. Rhodes's Volta Laboratory and patented in Decatur, GA 1886 (U.S. Patent 341,214).[1] It employed a 316-inch-wide (4.8 mm) strip of wax-covered paper that was coated by dipping it in a solution of beeswax and paraffin and then had one side scraped clean, with the other side allowed to harden. The machine was of sturdy wood and metal construction, and hand-powered by means of a knob fastened to the flywheel. The wax strip passed from one eight-inch reel around the periphery of a pulley (with guide flanges) mounted above the V-pulleys on the main vertical shaft, where it came in contact with either its recording or playback stylus. The tape was then taken up on the other reel. The sharp recording stylus, actuated by a vibrating mica diaphragm, cut the wax from the strip. In playback mode, a dull, loosely mounted stylus, attached to a rubber diaphragm, carried the reproduced sounds through an ear tube to its listener.[1]

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