Wire Recorder, 1940s-1950's
The Minifon was released to be sold as a portable dictating machine that traveling salesman could carry with them. It's use as a dictating machine did not develop in mass market. Instead, it become a popular product for note-taking by reporters, insurance adjusters, salesmen, private investigators, detectives and others. It also became a popular bugging device. The Minifon had a recording time of one hour which was very long for it's time. The basic machine cost around $289.00. Considering the fact that the average salary in 1940 was $1,299.00 a year, a Minifon cost over four month's salary. If you had one, you had some very expensive equipment.
The Minifon developed with many accessories (see brochure) including "long play" wire cassettes that would record up to five hours, telephone recording attachments, foot control, watch microphone, table loudspeaker, deluxe leather carrying case, body harness and anything else the company could come up with. Like spy camera makers of it's time, the idea with the cassette wire spools was to make it so only the spools made by the company would fit the unit. That's much like the situation with ink printer cartridges of today. After it's original somewhat marketing failure as a portable dictating machine, sales of the Minifon skyrocketed in the 1950's as an all purpose high end mini wired recorder. It was sold in over 80 countries throughout the world through selective high end dealers. It became one of the most popular audio recorders used by new reporters, interviewers, private investigators, law enforcement and spies.
Closeup Of The Watch Mic For The Minifon
on the Minifon
A Minifon with the
In the 1960's Minifon recorders converted over to transistors and magnetic tape instead of recording to wire. They continued to be marketed in the USA as small recorders.
Other Minifon Presentations And Models
(Below) A Review
Of The Minifon With The Body Harness That
Site Information On The Minifon
The Ralph D. Thomas PI Vintage Collection
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