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Thursday, January 6, 2011

AT&T stole my tape

Happy new year everybody!

Just ran across an interesting article and wanted to share, since I think it had an impact on recorded music. Apparently Bell Labs had invented the answering machine, and the magnetic tape to go with it, in 1934. Fearing that it would hurt the telephone(?!) AT&T shelved it for 20 years. Imagine how recording and music might be different if artists hadn't been stuck with the limitations of recording directly to records in the 30s and 40s. More evidence, IMO, that innovation and invention must always be free and open.


stringray said...

Hmm, well it may be a shame that Bell Lab. shelved that, but in the end this Tim Wu should have done a better research and looked abroad.

As far as I recall from what I've learned in my years of aprentice, it was BASF who invented magnetic recording in the end of the 1920's for military purpose and had to cooperate with AEG to bring a complete product piece together.

Military technology never is brought to public at the time of its development, of course, because every nation could use it then, and the devellopers' advantages were lost. What we learn there at best is how Bell covered up an event of industry espionage.

When I read that article, i thought "wow, an entire department of engineers and physicist employed without any plan or report to hold up to and just left doing whatever they want to is something our todays companies should really have. That kind of business thinking is lost today and should be brought back."
but Wu lost his credit by such a big mistake in the main article, so I'm not convinced that something like that really was.

guitarsean said...

That's a great point Ray, thanks for keeping me non-Americentric. Still, I wonder where technology might be if these innovations "hit the streets" earlier than they did.