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1950's German Tefifon

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    Posted 7 months ago

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    The German made Tefifon is a strange hybrid between a phonograph and a tape recorder. It is sometimes considered to be the grandfather of the 8-Track. Music was recorded onto a red plastic tape that was then made into a loop and housed in cartridges of varying sizes. They could play from 15 minutes to several hours depending on the tape.

    Where they differ from a tape player is that the durable, yet flexible red plastic tape was impressed with grooves like a phonograph record, and played with a sideways-mounted needle. The needle could be repositioned anywhere on the width of the tape by turning a thumbwheel on the mechanism. The fidelity was fairly good, all things considered.

    Even though they were manufactured for more than a decade until the mid 1960's, the Tefifon never really caught on. And major German recording stars never recorded for the Tefi company. Today they are somewhat rare, especially in the US. Both machines and Tefi tapes command high prices and parts are hard to find. Plus, because they are German, they run on a different voltage and frequency than we use in the US. That makes playing the Tefifon in this country impossible without voltage and frequency converters. Nevertheless, the Tefifon occupies a place among those unusual inventions that ultimately led to innovations elsewhere.

    More information is available on Youtube.

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