Clay's Collection of
Clay Ruth, Tape Recorder Nut
I made my first tape recording at the age of 5, in an era when very few people had tape recorders. My dad borrowed the machine from a co-worker and bought a reel of tape for me to record. I filled it up with nursery rhymes, stories, and general nonsense. I was absolutely thrilled with the concept.
Less than two years later, when I was 7, my parents gave me my very own tape recorder for Christmas. A Telectro model with two tubes, made in the late 1950s, it served me well for ten years, during which I recorded some radio shows and even the audio from some television programs, but eventually I became interested in stereo and bought an Ampex stereo tape deck. By then my old acetate-based 2-track monophonic tapes had become brittle and could barely play without falling apart, so I dubbed them over to new Mylar-based tapes in 4-track mono at 1 7/8 IPS. I continued collecting recordings, adding monophonic material to my monophonic audio archive tapes at 1 7/8 IPS and stereo material to 4-track stereo archive tapes at 3 3/4 IPS.
I didn't stop at a stereophonic tape deck. I also wanted portable stereo recording capabilities so that I could record trains, traffic, and other sound effects on-location. Bear in mind that, in 1970, the words "cassette" and "quality" rarely appeared in the same sentence unless accompanied by words such as "low," "poor," and "inferior." The early cassette machines had been little more than toys. Imagine my delight at finding the Hitachi TRQ-222, a portable stereo cassette recorder that produced astoundingly good recordings for its day! I took it with me to various events and, of course, to the railroad tracks. Growing up in northwest Indiana, I had plenty of railroads from which to choose, and I chose them based on accessibility more than anything else. Now, more than thirty years later, most of those railroad tracks have vanished, becoming footpaths and bicycle trails. Only one of the railroads at which I recorded remains in service, and it operates under a different name.
In the late 1960s I joined a tapesponding club called the Great Lakes Tape Club (GLTC). Like pen pals, tapesponders carried on a correspondence exchange, but instead of writing letters, we recorded tapes for one another. I made several new friends through the GLTC, and a few of them formed a less formal association called Tape Recorders Anonymous (TRA). Rather than withdraw from our tape recording habits, though, we TRA members reinforced one another's tape recording obsessions, and a few of us continue to exchange voice recordings in digital form via the Internet.
In recent years I have purchased various digital recording devices, finally finding one that works really well: the iRiver iFP-series. Not only can I use it to create on-location recordings with quality and convenience far surpassing any recorder I've ever had before, but also I can digitize my audio archives with very little hassle. And so I have. Some of my archival audio has historical, curiosity, or general interest value, so I've decided to share selected parts of it here. The iRiver can create MP3 files at a wide variety of sample rates and bit rates, but I've processed them down to narrow bandwidth for the purpose of making this site useful to dial-up and broadband users alike. Considering the rather limited bandwidth of these old archival recordings, very little was lost in the digital processing.
Disclaimer: The material presented in the Radio and Television Nostalgia section was recorded from copyrighted sources prior to 1978 and more than 28 years ago (copyright protection was extended considerably for works produced in 1978 and beyond). As such, the items I recorded presumably have passed into the public domain. Furthermore, these are low-bandwidth recordings that rank in the category of "telephone quality." If you believe that something offered here violates your intellectual property rights, please send me a link to a site where the same material can be purchased, and within ten business days of receiving such notification I will link to your site and, if you insist, withdraw my low-bandwidth recording from here.
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