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Vol.23 : "What's a Tape Recorder?"

Sixty years since Japan's first tape recorder

The G type tape recorder manufacturing process
Morita's book Morita's book "Magnetic Tape
Recording---What's a tape

In 1950, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation (the predecessor to Sony) launched Japan's first tape recorder, the "G type." That was 60 years ago. Although vinyl records were commonplace at the time, making recordings oneself was unheard of. Very few people had any idea what "recording" meant or what a tape recorder could do. Having launched Japan's first tape recorder, Sony then faced the challenge of educating consumers about the value of this product so that it would sell.

That prompted Sony founder Akio Morita to write a book entitled "Magnetic Tape Recording---What's a tape corder?" ('tape corders' being the term used at the time). The first edition was published in August 1950, and in it Morita had this to say:

"Before tape corders were invented, 'recording' was something very remote from our daily lives. Previously it required special, complex technology and was very expensive. Now, however, with Sony's new tape corder, recordings can be made quickly, cheaply and accurately by anyone anywhere anytime."

He went on to give a clear account of the tape corder's history, its mechanisms and various uses.

"When you open a personal photograph album, you experience an enjoyable visual record of memories in the form of countless photographs. Similarly, by using a tape corder, you leave an audio record of your daily life and work in the form of audio recordings that you can listen to…Just as photographs are now an inseparable part of our daily lives, audio 'recordings' will likewise become essential as well."

Recording media subsequently evolved from the open-reel to cassette tapes, then from tapes to discs and flash memory. Today's devices are equipped with various recording features. Sure enough, we now live in an era where being able to record things is not only normal but also an essential part of our lives, just as Morita predicted.

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