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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

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

Concord F20 Sound Camera

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

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

JVC HR-C3 VHS-C VCR

JVC HR-3300 VHS VCR

King Folding Binoculars

Kodak Brownie Starflash

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

Mini Com Walkie Talkies

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

Motorola 8500X ĎBrickí

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

Optikon Binocular Magnifier

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

Plessey PDRM-82 Dosimeter

Polaroid Land Camera 330

Polaroid Supercolor 635CL

Polaroid Swinger II

Polavision Instant Movie

Prinz 110 Auto Camera

Prinz Dual 8 Cine Editor

Psion Organiser II XP

Pye 114BQ Portable Radio

Rabbit Telepoint Phone

RAC Emergency Telephone

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

Satellite AM/FM Radio

Science Fair 65 Project Kit

Seiko EF302 Voicememo

Seiko James Bond TV Watch

Sekiden SAP50 Gun

Sharp CT-660 Talking Clock

Shira WT106 Walkie Talkies

Shogun Music Muff

Simpson 389 Ohmmeter

Sinclair Calculator

Sinclair Black Watch

Sinclair FM Radio Watch

Sinclair FTV1 Pocket TV

Sinclair Micro-6 Radio

Sinclair Micromatic Radio

Sinclair MTV1A Micovision TV

Sinclair MTV1B Microvision TV

Sinclair PDM-35 Multimeter

Sinclair System 2000 Amp

Sinclair Super IC-12

Sinclair X1 Burtton Radio

Sinclair Z-1 Micro AM 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 TC-50 Recorder

Sony TC-55 Recorder

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

Stylophone

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

Wondergram

Yamaha Portasound PC-10

Yashica AF Motor 35mm

Yupiteru MVT-8000 Scanner

SPYCORDERS

 

I have been collecting mini reel-to-reel tape recorders from the 1960s on and off for at least the past twenty years and now have quite a sizeable collection, I stopped counting when the tally passed 100 machines... More recently I have started selling doubles and ones I donít want any more on ebay but the piles of boxes never seem to get any smaller.

 

When I first started it was possible to pick them up for a pound or two at car boot sales and flea markets and of course ebay. Prices started to climb a year or so ago and there are fewer bargains to be had but I still pounce on cheap fixer-uppers as I have a good selection of spares and have become quite adept at repairing and restoring basket cases.

 

It all began when I saw one of the machines that I owned as a kid at an antiques fair. It still had the original crystal tie-clip mike, magnetic earphone, polystyrene packing and box and I snapped it up for a fiver.

 

My first machine was a ĎRoyal Callí -- featured in Part 1. The one I had back in the early sixties came from a truly bizarre shop in Londonís Edgware Road, called Headquarters and General. It was a real Aladdin's Cave, full of surplus electrical equipment,

interesting  gadgets, bits and pieces left over from World War and numerous other treasures, and most of it at pocket money prices.

 

That little Royal Call recorder bought back many memories and it started a craving. I just canít bear the thought of these wonderful little machines passing unnoticed into history so I made it my mission to rescue as many of them as possible from oblivion. But seriously, if you have one, please donít throw it away, Iíll always give it a good home.

 

Now excuse me while I briefly don my anorak and confess to a life-long affection of sixties TV programmes, in particular cheesy spy and secret agent stuff like Danger Man, Mission Impossible, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Get Smart and so on. Iím also a big fan of the late, great Gerry Andersonís classic puppet shows. I go way back with Andersonís productions to Twizzle, Torchy The Battery Boy and Four Feather Falls but it was the futuristic Supercar, Fireball XL5 and ultimately Thunderbirds that fired my youthful imagination. After Thunderbirds I have to say I rather lost interest. Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and the rest just didnít have the same impact, though I suppose by then as a teenager I was finding other things to occupy myself.  By the way, there's everything you ever wanted to know about Gerry Anderson's shows at: www.fanderson.org.uk/fanderson.htm

 

When Thunderbirds was first broadcast in 1964 I was instantly hooked and amazed to see my second mini tape recorder -- the one I bought to replace the Royal Call when it popped its clogs -- featured in almost every episode.  Mine was a Honeytone, though I have since found identical models with ĎAcmeí, ĎBenksoní ĎNoamí and ĎInternationalí badges. It was superbly well made -- probably why it was chosen as a prop for the show -- and in perfect scale for the puppet actors and sets. The one pictured is an International model and you can see it again in the screen grab from one of the episodes, in its usual location, on board the Thunderbird 5 space station, next to John Tracy.

 

I have dozens of 3-inch rim-drive machines but the focus of my collection is now miniature -- and the smaller the better -- reel-to-reel tape recorders, preferably ones that appeared in TV programmes, and for the want of a better word Iíll call them Spycorders. Most of them use 1/4-inch tape wound on 2.25-inch and 1.5-inch reels. Almost all of them have rim-drive mechanisms (see part 3) so they are not really serious recording instruments, but that doesnít matter, they look fantastic and are superb pieces of engineering, so letís look at a few classics.

 

One of the first in my collection, and still one of my all-time favourites is the Concord F20 Sound Camera. Itís quite bulky by Spycorder standards, even though it uses 2.25-inch reels but its appeal lies in the fact that it made frequent appearances in the opening sequences of the Mission Impossible TV series. ĎMr Phelps, this tape will self-destruct in five secondsÖí, and I have a screen grab to prove it.

 

Mission Impossible got through a lot a mini tape recorders and thereís even a web site devoted to this very topic at: http://www.mjq.net/mitapes.htm; this has been invaluable in helping me to identify many MI machines.

 

The next MI tape recorder is another favourite of mine. Itís the Craig 404 (above), made by Sanyo (also sold under their own name) and another 2.25-inch reel machine. Itís a lot smaller than the Concord F20, and better built too, with all metal construction. The case and mechanics is a notch up on the Concord and it looks much more like a serious tape recorder. They are swines to work on as the innards are really cramped. The 4-transistor amplifier circuit is a pig too, and in common with many mini tape recorders all of the electrolytic capacitors have either deformed or become leaky and need to be replaced before it will work. Good examples of the 404 and the later 406, can still be found; I have several of them, most with their original leather cases and remote control microphone.

 

I feel sure my next machine; the Aiwa TP60 (above) must have featured in several shows though I have never actually seen it on screen. Itís another all metal design, similar to the Craig 404 in that it uses 2.25 inch reels but a little more sophisticated with tighter mechanics, push button controls and variable speed on some examples. It looks more up-market too with its brushed aluminium finish and stylish leather carry case. (Manual)

 

All-metal construction is a feature of the Juliette LT-44 (right), which has the look of an industrial instrument about it. This particular chassis uses 3-inch reels and there were several variations, under a variety of names, with hinged and removable tops, brushed and chrome finishes and variety of control knob configurations.

 

I am particularly proud of the Bell Wood Memo Corder (below); itís the only one Iíve ever seen, apart from a fleeting appearance in the James Bond movie Thunderball. It was in an early scene, hidden inside a book, used to record an intruder in Bondís hotel room. You would need to be a collector (and a real geek) to have spotted it but the distinctive chrome fittings and the position of the push-button controls are unmistakable.

 

The rim-drive mechanism is slightly more complex than usual, with an idler wheel providing a faster rewind function. It also has a variable speed control and a small fold-out stand on the underside, which improves the volume from the speaker mounted in the base.

 

This next one is one of the strangest machines in my collection. Itís called the Parrot and as you can see from the photograph it is disguised as a book. The 3-inch reel rim-drive mechanism is completely unremarkable. The one unusual feature is the microphone, which is fitted inside the case. Itís virtually useless for covert recording -- even if you ignore the fact that the tape only lasts for 10 minutes -- but it is a real novelty and I still see them from time to time on ebay, sometimes selling well below their true worth simply because theyíve been imnapropriately listed under Toys or Books.


The last of the rim-drive Spycorders Iím featuring here is the Electra 770 and it is the smallest of the bunch with 1.5-inch reels. I know of several different makers names, including Starlite and Pocket Mate but I believe they were all made by a company called Tinico. Itís a real gem, 60ís Japanese engineering at its best and surprisingly advanced, with variable speed, push button controls and a proper erase head (rather than simple permanent magnet). The chassis is dominated by the chrome loudspeaker pod on the right, in fact Tinico produced another version, without the speaker, which reduced its length by around a third, making it one of the smallest reel- to reel machines ever made. I have recently acquired one and you can read all about it here.

 

ll round off this section with the star of my collection, the Swiss-made Nagra SN. Strictly speaking it doesnít belong here since it is an ultra high-performance machine with a capstan drive mechanism. It has appeared in countless spy and thriller movies, I recently saw one set into the dashboard of a car in the film ĎA series of unfortunate eventsí. However, it is a serious machine and until recently widely used by film and TV companies for location sound recording but its origins are in espionage. The story goes that the FBI commissioned it in the 1960s.

 

It is a thing of great beauty, justly compared with a fine Swiss watch in the precision of its engineering. They are still being made, though recent models are a lot more advanced than this one but they all use the same basic layout, with 2.5-inch reels, though unlike the other machines featured here it uses 1/8-inch wide tape -- the same as that in Compact Cassettes. One other unusual feature is the lack of a motorised rewind function -- presumably to save space -- instead thereís a little fold-out crank handle set between the reels and you have to wind the tape back by hand. Suffice it to say they cost an absolute fortune and you will occasionally find mono SNs on ebay selling for well over £1000 (though I paid considerably less for mine, before they became so collectable). Recent stereo SNST models in pristine condition can fetch well over £2500.

 

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