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Accoson Sphygmomanometer

Aibo ERS-111 Robotic Pet

Aldis Folding Slide Viewer

AKG K290 Surround 'Phones

Apple Macintosh SE FDHD

Avia Electronic Watch

Aitron Wrist Radio

Aiwa TP-60R Tape Recorder

Amstrad CPC 464 Computer

AlphaTantel Prestel

Atari 2600 Video Game

Atari 600XL Home Computer

AVO Multiminor

AVO Model 8 Multimeter

Bambino Challenger Radio

Bandai Solar LCD Game

Binatone Digivox Alarm

Binatone Long Ranger 6 CB

Binatone Mk6 Video Game

Bio Activity Translator

Biri-1 Radiation Monitor

Bowmar LED Digital Watch

Brydex Ever Ready Lighter

Cambridge Z88 Computer

Candlestick Telephone

Canon Ion RC-260 Camera

Cartex TX-160 Multiband Radio

Casio VL-Tone Keyboard

Clairtone Mini Hi Fi Radio

CocaCola Keychain Camera

Coke Bottle AM Radio

Commodore 64 Home PC

Commodore PET 2001-N

CD V-700 Geiger Counter

CD V-715 Survey Meter

CD V-742 Pen Dosimeter

Channel Master 6546

Chinon 722-P Super 8 Cine

Citizen ST555 Pocket TV

Craig 212 Tape Recorder

Craig TR-408 tape recorder

Daiya TV-X Junior  Viewer

Dancing Coke Can

Diamond Rio Media Player

Dictograph Desk Phone

Eagle T1-206 Intercom

Electrolysis Cell

Electron 52D Spycorder

Electronicraft Project Kit

Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart Radio

Euromarine Radiofix Mk 5

Exactus Mini Add Calculator

Fairylight Morse Set

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Ferguson FC08 Camcorder

Ferguson FHSC 1 Door Cam

Fi-Cord 101 Tape Recorder

Fi-Cord 202 Tape Recorder

Fidelity HF42 Record Player

Fleetwood Globe AM Radio

Franklin LF-390 Guitar Radio

GE 3-5805 AM CB Radio

GEC Transistomatic

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GPO Keysender No 5

GPO Telephone Series 300

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GPO Ring Microphone No 2

Gramdeck Tape Recorder

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Grundig EN3 Dictation

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H&G Crystal Radio

Hacker Radio Mini Herald

Hanimex Disc Camera

Henica H-138 Radio Lighter

Hitachi WH-638 Radio

Hitachi VM-C1 Camcorder

HMV 2210 Tape Recorder

Homey HR-408 Recorder

Ingersoll XK505 TV, Radio

International HP-1000 Radio

Jasa AM Wristwatch Radio

Juliette LT-44 Tape Recorder

Jupiter FC60 Radio

JVC GR-C1 Camcorder

JVC GX-N7E Video Camera



King Folding Binoculars

Kodak Brownie Starflash

Kodak 56X Instamatic

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Kodak EK2 'The Handle'

Kodak EK160 Instant Camera

Kvarts DRSB-88 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-90 Geiger Count

Kyoto S600 8-Track Player

Magnetic Core Memory 4kb

Mattel Intellivision

Maxcom Cordless Phone

McArthur Microscope OU

Memo Call Tape Recorder

Microphax Case II Fiche

Mini Com Walkie Talkies

Minolta XG-SE 35mm SLR

Minolta Weathermatic-A

Minox B Spy Camera

Mohawk Chief Tape Recorder

Motorola 5000X Bag Phone

Motorola 8500X ‘Brick’

MPMan MP-F20 MP3 Player

Music Man Talking Radio

Mystery Microphone

Nagra SN Tape Recorder

National Hyper BII Flashgun

NatWest 24 Hour Cashcard

Nife NC10 Miner's Lamp

Nimslo 3D Camera

NOA FM Wireless Intercom

Oric Atmos Home PC

Panda & Bear Radios

Panasonic RS-600US

Parrot RSR-423 Recorder

Pentax Asahi Spotmatic SLR

Philatector Watermark Detector

PH Ltd Spinthariscope

Philips Electronic Kit

Philips EL3302 Cassette

Philips EL3586 Reel to Reel

Philips PM85 Recorder

Philips P3G8T/00 Radio

PL802/T Semconductor Valve

Polaroid Land Camera 330

Polaroid Supercolor 635CL

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Polavision Instant Movie

Prinz 110 Auto Camera

Prinz Dual 8 Cine Editor

Psion Organiser II XP

Pye 114BQ Portable Radio

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Realistic TRC 209 CB

ReVox A77 Tape Recorder

Roberts R200 MW/LW Radio

Rolling Ball Clock

Ronco Record Vacuum

Sanyo G2001 Music Centre

Sanyo M35 Micro Pack

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Science Fair 65 Project Kit

Seiko EF302 Voicememo

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Sekiden SAP50 Gun

Sharp CT-660 Talking Clock

Shira WT106 Walkie Talkies

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Sinclair Calculator

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Sinclair MTV1A Micovision TV

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Sinclair PDM-35 Multimeter

Sinclair System 2000 Amp

Sinclair Super IC-12

Sinclair X1 Burtton Radio

Sinclair Z-30 Amplifier

Sinclair ZX81

Speak & Spell

Sony Betamovie BMC-200

Sony CFS-S30 'Soundy'

Sony DD-8 Data Discman

Sony CM-H333 Phone

Sony CM-R111 Phone

Sony FD-9DB Pocket TV

Sony MDR3 Headphones

Sony MVC-FD71 Digicam

Sony Walkman TPS-L2

Sony Rec Walkman WM-R2

Speedex Hit Spy Camera

Standard Slide Rule

Starlite Pocket Mate Tape

Staticmaster Static Brush

Stuzzi 304B Memocorder


Talkboy Tape Recorder

Taylor Barograph

Tasco SE 600 Microscope

Technicolor Portable VCR

Telephone 280 1960

Thunderbirds AM Can Radio

Tinico Tape Recorder

Tokai TR-45 Tape Recorder

Tomy Electronic Soccer

Toshiba HX-10 MSX Computer

Triumph CTV-8000 5-inch TV

TTC C1001 Multimeter

Uher 400 RM Report Monitor

Vanity Fair Electron Blaster

Vextrex Video Game

VideoPlus+ VP-181 Remote

Vidor Battery Radio

View-Master Stereo Viewer

Vivalith 301 Heart Pacemaker

Waco TV Slide Lighter

White Display Ammeter

Wittner Taktell Metronome


Yamaha Portasound PC-10

Yashica AF Motor 35mm

Yupiteru MVT-8000 Scanner


Widget Of The Week

Protona Minifon Attaché, 1961

Credit for making the first electronic covert audio recording device almost certainly belongs to a German company called Protona, who in the early 1950s developed a tiny pocket size magnetic wire spycorder, aptly named the Minifon Mi51. The simple, robust mechanism, and its ability record for up to four hours was, allegedly, the inspiration for, and partly used in the construction of the first prototype aircraft ‘Black Box’ flight data recorder in 1957, devised by Australian Dr David Warren.


Looking at the Minifon Attaché, featured here, it is not difficult to understand what drew Dr Warren to Protona; the design, engineering, build quality and attention to detail of this cute little tape recorder is simply outstanding. It is hard to believe that it was conceived in the late 50s and is now well over half a century old, what’s more it uses a small, conveniently sized tape cassette that pre-dates the Philips Compact Cassette by several years. It also has several clever and innovative features that would not become widespread on tape recorders and electronic gadgets for another decade.


Realistically the Minifon Attaché is an item of office equipment, however it is incredibly small -- it fits easily into a coat pocket -- and like the Mi51 before it, probably did its fair share of surveillance recording. It could also be used to record telephone conversations, thanks to a pickup coil built in to one of the optional multi-purpose external speaker microphone modules, which sadly I do not have – mine is the standard model. The two-sided tape cassette has a number of similarities to the Philips Compact Cassette. It is only a little larger, and slightly thicker, mainly due to the fact that it uses 6mm (1/4-inch) wide tape, rather the 3.5mm (1/8th inch) wide tape in a standard cassette. Like Philips machines it uses a capstan drive tape mechanism, cassettes were available in different lengths (30 and 15 minutes per side). Who knows; it is not unreasonable to suppose that Philips engineers were aware of the Protona design and maybe, like Dr Warren, drew some inspiration from it?


Other features were well ahead of their time, like the all transistor circuitry. This put it at the cutting edge in the early 60s. Piano key controls were also quite novel, especially on a machine this small, and tape counters and moving coil recoding level/battery meters were comparatively rare on portable machines. Then there are some rather unusual extras, like fast erase. When pressed, a small lever at one end of he tape head cover brings a permanent magnet into contact with the tape and when the machine is in rewind mode it is possible to completely wipe both sides of a cassette in just a couple of minutes. Last but not least, it can be powered by a 12-volt nicad rechargeable battery, or a now obsolete disposable battery. Sixty years ago you could count the number of electronic devices that used rechargeable batteries on the fingers of one hand.      


Construction is all metal, from the chassis to the case, and there’s a hefty cylindrical flywheel, to aid speed stability, yet it is surprisingly light. It looks and feels really tough, and the fact that after all these years this one still works perfectly, is a tribute to German precision engineering.


I cannot recall exactly when I acquired this particular Attaché, it is a fairly early example and one of several that have passed through my hands over the years, but it was probably more then ten years ago, and came from an early on-line auction when machines like these were cheap and plentiful. Then as now it is in full working order and showed only light signs of use. It came with its custom-made leather case and the purpose designed microphone/speaker, and I would be very surprised if I paid more than £10 for it. 


What Happened To It?

As far as I am aware Protona never attempted to turn the Attaché into a mass-market product and its successor, the better specified Hi-Fi model was also aimed, and priced at high end and specialist applications. Needless to say not many were sold and it couldn’t compete with the Philips Compact Cassette, which by the mid 60s had become a world standard. In fact Protona had been struggling for years and it was bought out by Telefunken in 1962. Despite dwindling orders Protona continued to make Minifon models until 1967, when it was eventually closed down.


Protona Minifons are not widely known outside of the tape recorder collector and enthusiast markets but the few that come up on ebay are eagerly snapped up, sometimes for hundreds of pounds, depending on their condition and rarity. However, occasional fixer-uppers can still be found for £50 or less, and providing there is no serious damage or corrosion, they can be a good investment. They are fairly easy to work on, a lot of parts are still available and most faults can be fixed, but even dead ones still look great!



First seen               1959

Original Price         £300?

Value Today           £50

Features                 Capstan drive, 2-track recording, ¼-inch tape, 6 transistors (3 x OC304, 2 x OC308 1 x OC307), tape counter, battery/recording level meter, auto stop, remote pause/record, piano-key controls, stop, rewind, play, record), volume, full tape erase

Power req.                    Mini Accu 12-volt nicad rechargeable battery/Petrix 27

Dimensions:                  180 x 102 x 44mm

Weight:                          850g

Made (assembled) in:    Germany

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):  7




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