[Table of Contents]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [ARSCLIST] wire recordings - archival storage


I don't know if David ever made the paper available online. He sent me a paper copy years ago. I believe it was the basis for his book "/Sound Recording: The Life Story of A Technology" /(which I have not had the opportunity to read)./

/Here is a link to his Recording History site, which lists the publications he has done. Fascinating site-he has done some great research.


--Scott Smith

Steven Smolian wrote:
I wasn't aware of the dissertaion. Can you supply a more complete reference?

Steve Smolian

----- Original Message ----- From: "Scott D. Smith" <lists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 6:48 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] wire recordings - archival storage


The discussion of various wire piqued my curiosity, so I did a little digging. I didn't find the exact reference I was looking for, but found a couple of similar citations. I think most of this research was done by Brush Magnetics and Marvin Camras at Armour Research, with similar research done by the Geramns.

The best reference I found was from "The Recording and Reproduction of Sound" (Oliver Read-Author; Howard Sams-Publisher; ©1952). In the section on wire recording, there is a reference to the use of medium carbon steel wire, which was produced from medium carbon steel rod. I think this was probably what some of the early Pierce wire stock was. There is also reference from a Fidelitone source which outlines differences between /"Regular Stainless Steel Wire"/ and /"Stainless Steel Recording Wire"/. It essentially outlines the fact that the Stainless Steel Recording Wire undergoes some specific QC and other treatments during manufacture. There was quite a bit of research that went into this at the time, and I haven't had a chance to look up all the references. I do recall that there tended to be a high rejection rate of the stainless steel rod used to produce the wire, and that it had to fall within specific limits on the B & H curve.

In the excellent book titled "Elements of Sound Recording" by John Frayne and Halley Wolfe (John Wiley & Sons, ©1949), there are references in a response chart from Brush Development to /"Carbon Steel Wire", "420 Stainless Steel Wire", "Brush Wire Type BK-913",/ and /"Coated Paper Tape"/. (If you're curious, the paper tape beats them all!).

As I recall, the reference that I had previously seen wire stock referred to as "Type 1" and "Type 2" wire. Wish I could find the damn thing...

I think the part of oxidation problem is as a result of the pot metal that was used for making the wire spools, which in the case of Webster-Chicago, I believe are anodized aluminum, although I have frankly never researched it. I have seen problems in the past with various anodizing, where either the metal was contaminated, or the anodizing was not done quite properly, resulting a sort of white powder substance. I'm not a chemist, so I will leave it to someone else to speculate on exactly what the nature of this might be.

Your comments on print-through are interesting. It certainly would seem that wire would be prone to this-strange that it doesn't appear more often (on the other hand, the 40 db S/N ratio might have something to do with this!)

One of these days, in my spare time (yeah, right), I'm going to go down to the IIT archives and take a look at the Armour papers relating to the research on wire recording, although David Morton has already covered much of this in his dissertation on Webster-Chicago.

(BTW-the Webster-Chicago plant still stands at 5610 W. Bloomingdale in Chicago. I took some exterior photos a few years ago, and hope to make a tour of it sometime).

Scott D. Smith
Chicago Audio Works, Inc.

Angie Dickinson Mickle wrote:
Scott D. Smith wrote:
I always thought all the wire made by W-C was stainless as well, but apparently there were at least couple of different grades (which I've seen reference to in some literature from the 1940s. Would have to dig for the source).

I would be very interested in your reference to this when you get a chance.

I have seen some wire which has exhibited a crystalline type of oxidation (usually easily cleaned).

I've seen this also. To me oxidation is rust, but this is definitely some environmental reaction. It does not seem to effect the recording or the integrity of the wire in the least. And I find it more often on the metal spool itself than the actual wire.

I've never really experienced any issues with print-through on wires.

I hadn't either until very recently. A very loud volume passage on a wire definitely could be heard seconds later. It could be argued that that low level garbling that is frequently heard on wire could be print-through. On the other hand, it could be incomplete erasure of previous recordings. I could never tell. Weighing tails out storage to future playback equipment compatibility, I'd continue storing heads out with a proper, even wind. Because, here's my question. After being stored heads out for 50 or 60 years, how much worse can any print-through get?

Angie Dickinson Mickle
Avocado Productions
Broomfield, CO

[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents]