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Gizmos A - Z

Accoson Sphygmomanometer

Aibo ERS-111 Robotic Pet

Aldis Folding Slide Viewer

Airlite 71 Aviation Headset

Amerex Alpha One Spycorder

AKG K290 Surround 'Phones

Astatic D-104 Desk Microphone

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

Bellwood, Bond Spycorder

Betacom BF1 Pianotel Phone

Binatone Digivox Alarm

Binatone Long Ranger 6 CB

Binatone Mk6 Video Game

Bio Activity Translator

Biri-1 Radiation Monitor

Bowmar LED Digital Watch

Boots CRTV-50 TV,Tape, Radio

Brydex Ever Ready Lighter

BSB Squarial

Cambridge Z88 Computer

Candlestick Telephone

Canon Ion RC-260 Camera

Cartex TX-160 Multiband Radio

Casio VL-Tone Keyboard

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

Clairtone Mini Hi Fi Radio

CocaCola Keychain Camera

Coke Bottle AM Radio

Commodore 64 Home PC

Commodore PET 2001-N

Computer Novelty AM/FM Radio

Concord F20 Sound Camera

Craig 212 Tape Recorder

Craig TR-408 tape recorder

Dansette Richmond Radio

Daiya TV-X Junior  Viewer

Dancing Coke Can

Diamond Rio Media Player

Dictograph Desk Phone

Dokorder PR-4K Mini Tape

Eagle T1-206 Intercom

Electrolysis Cell

Electron 52D Spycorder

Electronicraft Project Kit

Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart Radio

Ericsson Ericofon Cobra Phone

Etalon Luxor Light Meter

Euromarine Radiofix Mk 5

Exactus Mini Add Calculator

Fairylight Morse Set

FEP Microphone & Earphone

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

GEC Voltmeter

Giant Light Bulbs

Gowlland Auriscope

GPO Keysender No 5

GPO Telephone Series 300

GPO Telephone Type 746

GPO 12B/1 Test Meter

GPO Trimphone

GPO Ring Microphone No 2

Gramdeck Tape Recorder

Grandstand Video Console

Grundig EN3 Dictation

Grundig Memorette

H&G Crystal Radio

Hacker Radio Hunter RP38A

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

Internet Radio S-11

Jasa AM Wristwatch Radio

Juliette LT-44 Tape Recorder

Jupiter FC60 Radio

JVC GR-C1 Camcorder

JVC GX-N7E Video Camera



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Kodak 56X Instamatic

Kodak 100 Instamatic

Kodak EK2 'The Handle'

Kodak EK160 Instant Camera

Kvarts DRSB-01 Dosimeter

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

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Minolta 10P 16mm Camera

Minolta-16 II Sub Min Camera

Minolta XG-SE 35mm SLR

Minolta Weathermatic-A

Minox B Spy Camera

Mohawk Chief Tape Recorder

Motorola 5000X Bag Phone

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Motorola Micro TAC Classic

MPMan MP-F20 MP3 Player

Music Man Talking Radio

Mystery Microphone

Nagra SN Tape Recorder

National Hyper BII Flashgun

National RQ-115 Recorder

NatWest 24 Hour Cashcard

Nife NC10 Miner's Lamp

Nimslo 3D Camera

NOA FM Wireless Intercom

Optikon Binocular Magnifier

Oric Atmos Home PC

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Panasonic RS-600US

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Philatector Watermark Detector

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Polaroid Land Camera 330

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Polavision Instant Movie

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Prinz 110 Auto Camera

Prinz Dual 8 Cine Editor

Psion Organiser II XP

Pye 114BQ Portable Radio

Rabbit Telepoint Phone

RAC Emergency Telephone

Racal Acoustics AFV Headset

Radofin Triton Calculator

Raytheon Raystar 198 GPS

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

Shogun Music Muff

Simpson 389 Ohmmeter

Sinclair Calculator

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Speak & Spell

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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

Wallac Oy RD-5 Geiger Counter

W E Co Folding Phone

White Display Ammeter

Wittner Taktell Metronome


Yamaha Portasound PC-10

Yashica AF Motor 35mm

Yupiteru MVT-8000 Scanner


Widget Of The Week

GPO Headset No.1, 1969

There is an interesting document on the Britishtelephones website, probably dating from the early 1960s. It covers the development history of GPO Headset No.1, from 1948 to 1959. It’s a fascinating insight into the bureaucracy of a state-owned organisation, and the legendary inertia of the GPO’s engineering division. But this was a very different time, and truth be told it wasn’t that unusual for it to take 10 years or more for what now seems to be a relatively unsophisticated product, to get from the drawing board to the production line. However, the big question is that how, after more than a decade of work, they still managed to come up with such an inelegant and uncomfortable design…


It was definitely an improvement on its predecessor, though, which was a cumbersome and heavy ‘chest’ microphone, suspended around the operator’s neck. High on the list of Headset No 1’s design objectives was that it should be lightweight, and it is, just 120 grams or a little over 4 ounces and this was largely due to what was then newly-developed compact microphone or ‘transmitter’ and headphone or ‘receiver’ modules. These are mounted together into a weirdly shaped, scalloped enclosure moulded from nylon, which also helped keep the weight down. The really distinctive feature though, is the ‘acoustic horn’, which makes it look like something from the 1930s, rather than the space age sixties. To be fair it does the job, and it is cleverly articulated, on a ball-joint type arrangement, which gives it a good range of movement, to put it close to the user’s mouth. It can also be turned through 180 degrees, so it can be used for right or left side operation.


The olde-tyme horn is actually a consequence of the microphone module, known as Transmitter Inset No.15 to its friends. It is a carbon granule type and essentially a miniature version of the ones that had been used in phones since the year dot, which was a little after the carbon mike was invented, in the late nineteenth century. Carbon mikes were still in widespread use until very recently and Telephone Inset No.15 also popped up again in the GPO Trimphone, this time used as the sounder for the distinctive ‘warbler’ ringer. The horn helps to make up for the carbon granule mike's lack of sensitivity; they also have a very narrow frequency range, though this isn’t a problem for speech. Most importantly, the way that they work means there is no need for amplification, which is a major plus point for telephone systems. If you are interested there’s more about them in this earlier GPO Dustygizmo.


Incidentally, the Acoustic Horn on my example appears to have a slightly narrower mouth, compared with others that I have seen (the original is Part No. 1/DMO/66, this one is marked 1/402), so it may be an alternative type or a later replacement.


The headphone module uses rather exotic sounding ‘rocking armature’ technology. Basically a thin diaphragm, attached to a small magnet, moves up and down in response to voltages passing though a coil around the magnet. In other words it’s a lot like modern headphones and loudspeakers. Apparently it worked a little too well and after a while operators in public telephone exchanges could find it a bit too loud. The solution was to wire a 150-ohm resistor across the terminals to wind down the volume a little  


User comfort seems to have been given a fairly low priority, fortunately it doesn’t weigh very much but the wire headband is quite springy and gives the hard and uncushioned headset module and round rubber ‘headpad’ on the other end a fair old squeeze; the little sliding pad on the top doesn’t do much at all. It was probably configured for a notional standard GPO head and took little account of different head or ear shapes and sizes, hair styles and so on. You start to notice it after a few minutes, so heaven knows what it was like to wear for hours on end. By the way, there’s also a Headset No. 2. This has a second earphone on the other side (Part 1/DCA/99) plus a more substantial headband (Headband No.13). Both Headset 1 and 2 were made in black and grey plastic.  


This one has been tucked away in a box of old phone parts in my garage for more than 20 years so I cannot remember how I came by it, or how much it cost, but if I did pay for it, it would have been pennies, rather than pounds. The only thing missing is the connecting cable and plug. I suspect that it was in poor condition when I first got it, so I cut it off, meaning to replace it at some point. Maybe I will, one day, and I am pretty sure that it still works, as there is almost nothing to go wrong. The overall condition is very good indeed and apart from some signs of light use, it could almost be fresh out of the box.


What Happened To It?

Tens of thousands of Headset No.1 were made, probably at great expense to the British taxpayer, and they would have been in regular use at least until the early 1990s. Many of them found their way into the consumer marked as they were replaced, sold off and thrown away as telephone exchanges and switchboards were updated from the1980s onwards. Modern operator headsets are a world away from this old dinosaur, which even managed to look old fashioned when it first came out. The basic design principles haven’t changed much though, and it is still important for an operator to be able to hear both the phone line, and the outside world; nowadays there’s a much greater emphasis on comfort and even hygiene, plus a raft of special features, like noise cancellation that improves sound quality at both ends of the phone call.


Unfortunately, apart from a museum piece Headset No 1 isn’t much use for anything anymore. You could replace the microphone and headphone with modern inserts and use it for video gaming, or even as a funky mobile phone headset, but it’s hardly worth the effort, and you wouldn’t want to wear it for any length of time. They are not especially rare either, though prices are creeping up and you can expect to pay £20 to £25 for a really clean one. They’re a little too recent, and not weird enough to be a fully qualified collectible, but give it time. If you spot one at a low enough price it’s probably worth stashing away for your children’s, or more likely your grandchildren’s retirement fund. 


First seen                 1960

Original Price           £? (probably lots...)

Value Today             £25 (0115)

Features                   Carbon granule microphone (Transmitter Inset No.15), rocking armature earphone (Receiver Inset No. 3T, 150 ohm impedance), right or left ear operation, sliding headpads, elbow/ball-jointed acoustic horn

Power req.                    n/a (powered by exchange equipment, 40mA optimum feed current)

Dimensions:                  160 x 140 x 190mm (unexpanded)

Weight:                         120g

Made (assembled) in:    England

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):  6




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