Telstra Research Laboratories
Blattnerphone Video (1992)

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TRL Cast
This video is available on youtube. Search for Blattnerphone.
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About the video

The Blattnerphone was an early audio recording device of which only 12 were made during the early 1930's. It was used by radio news services of the time and the Australian Broadcasting Commission purchased a unit. It fell into disuse after the war and languished in the vaults of the Victorian Museum. The Blattnerphone is mounted on a wooden table and weighs about 100kg. The recording medium is a 3mm steel tape that passes at 1.5 meters/second past a reading/recording head. The tape holds about 30 minutes of audio.

In 1985, for display during the Laboratories open day, the Blattnerphone was recovered from the Victorian Museum and restored to working condition by TRL staff under the guidance of Sean Curlis. Washing machine motors were used to replace existing motors and various other adaptations made. At the time, it was the only working Blattnerphone in the world. In 1992, the Canadian Broadcasting Commission had a requirement to play 11 Blattnerphone tapes and called on TRL for assistance. The contents of the 11 tapes were successfully transferred to magnetic tapes.

This video clip aired on both the Channel 9 evening news and a slightly longer piece on the Channel 9 breakfast show, "Today", which is presented here. The source videotape in NTSC format was discovered in the back of Colin Blocks cupboard in poor condition. It is thought that the tape was given to TRL by Ch.9 News reporter Nick McCallum and features the 2 versions that aired, as well as the various takes that made up the final versions of the aired segments.

The working Blattnerphone has been donated to the Museum of Victoria.

TRL Cast (Blattnerphone)

00:00 Brian Churchill

Related Information

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clipping 1
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clipping 2
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clipping 3





See this text for what Stephen Nason (TRL Science writer) recalls about the Blattnerphone.

This thank you letter from Channel 9.

Blattnerphone history at the BBC.
or see this PDF of the above web pages (reproduced with permission).

This article in the magazine Wirelese World 1975 about magnetic recording.

This letter about the blattnerphone in the magazine Wireless World 1975.

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Last updated: Jan 2015