The Brush Sound Mirror Was it the first?
By Buddy Belote
Soon after hostilities began following the "Day of Infamy", our government set up a vast antenna field near Laurel, Md. The purpose was to monitor the German Radio 24 hours a day to glean what intelligence they could that would help our war effort. Among the many things they were asked to do was to keep our high command advised as to the physical whereabouts of Adolph Hitler.
Through the opening months of this operation the crew was seemingly very successful. Then just as suddenly as they had been successful, they began to fail in their findings about the Fuhrer's presence. Why? What happened?
The mystery was solved when shortly after the fall of Berlin our signal corps technicians got into the ruins of the German Radio headquarters. There they found some metal reels and lots of some kind of paper tape that was white on one side and black on the other. It was a puzzlement!
Not too far away the Bell Telephone engineers were working in the ruins to restore some semblance of telephone communications. They were called over to see this funny stuff that had been found in the radio studios. It did not take them long to learn that the Germans had perfected magnetic audio tape. The quality of which was so much better than anything we had, it had misled our crew Into thinking the tape playback was actually "live". This discovery must have been made in late April or early May of 1945 .
In January 1946 at WINX Radio (the Washington Post's first entry into the broadcasting business), they brought in the very first recorder/playback machine We had ever seen. It was housed in a beautiful mahogany cabinet, had seven inch metal reels and paper tape, white paper on the backside and some sort of graphite-type material on the "hot" side.
That night, January 19, 1946, on the Evening Sport Show, with Bob Wolfe, I played back on the radio an interview that had been recorded earlier that day.
And it worked!
It could be that this was the first time a magnetic audio recording tape was ever broadcast in America on the electric radio. Who can say for sure?
Brush Sound Mirror
® Brush Soundmirror Model BK-401
Brush Development Company, Cleveland, OH. 1/4" mono full-track reel-to-reel recorder/reproducer. 3", 5" and 7" EIA hub reels. 7 1/2 ips only. Brush Development Co. was organized by Charles Francis Brush in 1930. The BK-401 was their first reel-to-reel tape recorder. In 1949–1950, Brush also sold tape called “Magic Ribbon” at approximately 2.50 per 1225’ (7" metal reel in both paper and plastic backing). By 1950 Brush was marketing nine models of the Soundmirror, including portable, educational and travel models.
More Washington Broadcast history.....
I found a very comprehensive history of Washington radio by Thomas White......take a look:
Early Washington Radio History