Marconi-Sykes magnetophone, 1923

Made:
1923 in Chelmsford

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Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Marconi-Sykes Magnetophone, Serial Number 271376, made by Marconi's Wireless Telegraphy Company Limited, probably Chelmsford, Essex, England, 1923. Very early moving coil microphone, DC energised. Uses the large flat coil as the diaphragm. Used at Savoy Hill, mounted in the 'Meat Safe' microphone stand. This example missing the coil.

Marconi-Sykes Magnetophone, Serial Number 271376, made by Marconi's Wireless Telegraphy Company Limited, probably Chelmsford, Essex, England, 1923.

This microphone was used in the early years of the BBC at its early studio, at Savoy Hill in Central London. Introduced in 1923 the Marconi-Sykes magnetophone was very sensitive, and dramatically improved the audio quality of the radio broadcasts made by the BBC. The body of the microphone was a magnetised cylindrical iron pot which made it extremely heavy. The sound-sensitive aluminium moving coil was extremely fragile, supported on a backing of paper which in turn was supported on cotton wool pads covered by a thin layer of Vaseline. The microphone sat on a rubber sling inside a large 'meat safe' stand, so called because it resembled kitchen cabinets of the time that were designed to store meat. The microphone was soon replaced by even better technology, but it represents an important step in microphone design and the history of the BBC.

On display

Science Museum: Information Age Gallery: Broadcast

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Details

Category:
Television
Object Number:
2012-5118/391
Materials:
cotton (fibre), metal (unknown), paint
type:
microphone
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • audio equipment
credit:
The BBC Collection
status:
Permanent collection

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