The Nixon White House Tape Recorders
Now With Key Video Presentations Of The Watergate Story
And Audio Presentations Of What Was On The White HouseTapes

In 1971 President Nixon installed secret audio recording systems in the Oval Office, his hide-out office in the Executive Office Building, the Cabinet Room and at Camp David . Conversations were recorded between February 16th, 1971 through July 18th, 1973. The recorders where installed and maintained by the US Secret Service. There were a total of seven hidden microphones in the Oval Office. Five where in the President's desk and one each on each side of the fireplace mantle. Two microphones were installed under the cabinet room table in front of the President's chair. These hidden mics ran to a place in the basement of the West Wing and connected to a voice activated tape recorder hidden in a locker. Four microphones where also placed in Nixon's Old Executive Office Building Office which connected to another tape recorder in another room. The desk phones in the Oval Office, The Executive Office Building Office and the one in the Lincoln Bedroom in the residence of the White House were connected to tape recording systems and telephone calls where automatically recorded. The recordings were tied to the US Secret Service Presidential Locator system. This was a system that knew where the President was at all times. The voice activated automatic tape recording system only worked when the President was in the room. However, it recorded automatically when Nixon was present. Nixon was not the first President to use a secret recording system. Both Kennedy and Johnson secretly recorded some meetings and phone calls. In fact, secret audio recording goes all the way back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Nixon tapes consist of 2,019 hours of audio recordings.

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 tape 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.

The Nixon Presidential Library Has Released All Of The Tapes. Click Here To Listen Now.

A Close-Up Of The Sony Recorder Model That Was Used To Record White House
Oval Office Conversations In A Locker Below The Oval Office. (See Map Below)

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.

A Photo Of Rose Mary Woods shown how she might have erased the tapes.

A Close-Up Of The Model Of The Uhler Tape Recorder/ Player That Rose Mary Woods
Used That Produced the 18.5 Minute Gap. This Is Also The Same Model Rumored To
Be That Nixon Would Set Alone In The Lincoln Setting Room Upstairs In The White
House To Listen To The Evidence Of The Bugging He Did Of Himself And Others.

The 18 And 1/2 Minute Gap
On the first tape requested from Nixon's secret taping system

The 18 and 1/2 minute gap in the Nixon tapes occurs on tape 342, a meeting on June 20th, 1972 between H.R. Haldeman and President Nixon in the Executive Office Building. This is just three days after the Watergate break-in. As the two talk about assorted matters of concern to the President, there is suddenly an 18 and 1/2 minute gap on the tape. The White House claims the gaps was made accidentally by Rose Marry Woods when she answered the telephone during a period of time she was typing transcripts of the tape. It was later determined that the eraser was made by hitting the erase button nine times.


A Close-up of the Uher 500 Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorder Opened.

Video Presentation By Alexander Butterfield
Alexander Butterfield was The White House assistant That Revealed The
Existence Of The White House Taping System To The Senate Committee
Gives A Presentation On His Events While Working For Nixon

 

Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon's secretary making the cover of
Time Magazine, Decemeber14, 1973 with a line drawing of the Uhler recorder.

Click Here To See The Watergate Bug Exhibit

Watch A Video Of The Richard Nixon Funeral

You Can Learn More About The Nixon Tape Recordings from:

The Nixon Presidential Materials Web Site

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