The Mohawk Midget Recorder, 1950's
Promoted As "The World's First Battery-Operated Pocket Tape Recorder"
In the 1950s measurements of 8 1/2 X 3 1/2 X 1 7/8 inches was really really small!

Prior to about 1950, tape recorders had been mostly big and bulky. Most of the "portable" ones where about the size of a typewriter. They all used tubes. That all changed when the Mohawk Business Machines Company of New York released what they called The Midget Recorder around 1950. This was the first all transistor tape recorder. It was about 8 1/2 X 3 1/2 X 1 7/8 in size and used a small tape cartridge. Like many recorders of this time period, you had to purchase extra tape cartridges from the company that made the recorder.
There were no standardized tape cartridges.

The recorder was a modern revolution for it's time and very small! If you were a private investigator and had one of these back then, everyone in town marveled at at. The Mohawk Midget Recorder sold for $249.50. That was a lot of money in the 1950's. The average yearly salary in 1950 was $2,992.00 a year. That's about $57.00 a week. That puts the Mohawk Midget Recorder in the price range of about five weeks pay. That would be about $4,000 by today's standards. Needless to say, they were expensive. There were tape cartridges that would last for one hour and an extra long play tape cartridge that would record for one and one half hours. This was the recorder for it's time. It could be concealed with a shoulder harness under one's suite. It even had a covert watch microphone and a telephone recording microphone you could obtain. Below is a photo of the specifications as it appeared in the Midgetape brochure.

Note the photo of the "Midget" in the middle. When the tape got to it's end,
you had to pull out a crank and hand crank the tape to rewind it.

Midgetape Accessories
The Mohawk Midget Recorder was highly successful and came out with a number of accessories one could purchase. These included a telephone mic for $10.00, a Wristwatch microphone for $44.50, a microphone one could conceal under a lapel pin $33.50, a fitted briefcase concealment made of top-grain cowhide $49.95, Shoulder holster $4.95, Throat Mic $39.95, Tape Cartridges one hour $11.50. tape cartridges one and one half hour $13.50, Power Amplifier And Internal Speaker $35.00, Power Converter (AC) $33.50, Car Battery Converter $19.95, Extra Batteries $2.60 for 12 to 15 hour life and 50 hour battery $9.50. With all the accessories from the company, one would pay about $500.00 for the Midgetape deluxe. That's about $8,000 by today's value.

Above photo is of the original outside brochure for the Midgetape 300.
Note it featured the fact that the Midgetape 300 was a pocket tape recorder
that had it's very own internal loudspeakers


Above photo is of the original inside brochure for the Midgetape 300.
Note the wordage stating that the Midgetape is the world's first battery-operated pocket recorder.
The midgetape was sold through authorized dealers. This brochure was made in a way so
authorized dealers could place their name and contact information on it so one could call
for "a fascinating demonstration." Remember, these recorders cost about $4,000 by today's
pricing standards. No doubt, if you called an authorized dealer, they would either set an appointment
for you to see the "fascinating demonstration" or run right out to show you.

 

From The Ralph D. Thomas PI Vintage Collection
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