Wire recording (1898 – 1960s)

Wire recording is a magnetic audio format where recordings are made on thin steel or stainless steel wire. It was introduced in the 1898 by its inventor, Valdemar Poulsen.

As well as being used for dictation purposes, wire recording was also used for home entertainment, for example for recording radio programmes.

Postwar wire recorders used a fast speed of around 24 inches per second, making a typical spool of 7200 feet on a reel of less than 3 inches diameter last for one hour. Similar to magnetic tape, wire recordings could be edited by cutting and tying wire together.

After recording or playback, the wire had to be rewound before any further use could be made of the machine—unlike tape recorders, the take-up reel on most wire recorders was not removable.

Its popularity peaked in the late 1940s and early 1950s before being replaced by open reel tape recording.

Its use did continue into the 1960s, for example in Minifon miniature recorders, and it was also used in aircraft cockpits, and unmanned spacecraft.

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