The Nixon White House Tape Recorders

Oval Office/White House Recorder
Sony TC-800B Audio Recorder

The secret White House taping system used a Sony TC-800B audio recording machine like the one on the right. It was a simple machine that was not expensive and cheap tiny Lavalier mics were used that were hidden throughout the Oval office and Nixon's hideout office in the OEB. The recordings were made on thin 0.5-mm tape running at the unusual speed of 15é16 inch per second - half the speed of a cassette recorder. The slow tape speed degrades the recording's already poor signal-to-noise ratio.This accounts for the poor quality of the tapes.

Nixon's Uher 5000 Tape Recorder
And The 18.5 Minute Gap

While the recordings were recorded on the Sony TC-800B, Nixon played them back and reviewed them on a Uher 5000. The famous 18.5 minute gap was determined to be caused, not by Rosemary Woods in a transcribing accident, but caused by eight separate erasers.

The Watergate Tapes
Audio Links From The Spy And Private-Eye Museum

Discussion Of Bugs Tape

Friday, September 15, 1972
White House Oval Office
President Nixon, H.R.Haldeman, John W. Dean III
About 34 Minutes
Click Here To Play The Wave Recording
A discussion of press treatment of the break-in and lawsuits; discovery of another bug in the DNC; bugs in other political campaigns; DNC lawsuits; Edward Bennett Williams; RNC countersuits; election law violations; Congress; the burglars' civil rights; the Washington Post's TV & Radio licenses; depositions on sex-lives of DNC members.

The Smoking Gun Tape
Friday, June 23, 1972
White House Oval Office
President Nixon And H. R. Haleman
About Eight Minutes
Click Here To Play Wave File of Recording
"The Smoking Gun" conversation: Haldeman and Nixon discuss the progress of the FBI's investigation especially the tracing of the source of money found on the burglars. They propose having the CIA ask the FBI to halt their investigation of the Watergate break-in by claiming that the break-in was a national security operation. This was the final tape release in the final days of the Nixon Presidency that triggered his resignation speech. After this type was released, almost all support for Nixon for an impeachment in the US Senate was gone.

"Cancer on the Presidency" Tape
Wednesday, March 21, 1973
White House Oval Office
President Nixon. H.R.Haldeman. John W. Dean
About 37 Minutes
Click Here To Play Wave File Of Recording
The "Cancer on the Presidency" conversation: Dean recaps the history of the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up for the President. They guess at who was responsible for setting the break-in in motion. Dean tells the President that the cover-up is "a cancer on the Presidency" that must be excised or his Presidency would be in danger. Also discussed: references to blackmail, perjury; discussion of paying the burglars off with one million dollars. This tape has John Dean talking about hush money paid to the Watergate burglars to keep them quite. Dean tells Nixon that there is a "cancer" growing around the his Presidency and that these people are going to want a lot more money to remain quite. Nixon asks how much Dean thinks it would cost and dean states that it could cost a million dollars. Nixon is recorded stating that he knew where a million dollars could be obtained.

The Nixon Resignation Speech
Listen to a complete Real Audio tape of Nixon's resignation speech.

The FBI Investigation of Watergate
This is a 126 page FBI report of the FBI Investigation of Watergate in a PDF file.

Above photo shows the location of the oval office and the Nixon hide out office where he bugged himself
and the residence where he sat in the Lincoln bedroom and listened to the tapes.

Click Here To See The Watergate Bug Exhibit

From The Ralph D. Thomas PI Vintage Collection
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