Making the Perfect Record: From Inscription to Impression in Early Magnetic Recording

A Variety of Conjectures

On the limits of the telegraph, Fankhauser (1909, 41) claims: “Already the telegraph . . . is on the wane; but its complete substitution has heretofore been impossible because of the fact that it is absolutely necessary on important divisions that there should be evidence.” On the limits of the telephone: “It has always been a drawback to the general use of the telephone, that the messages transmitted have been wholly evanescent, that it has been impossible to preserve or present an authentic record of conversation over the wire” (40). On the rise of mechanical or commercial stenography: “The field here is growing constantly, as it has been demonstrated that there may be effected not alone an enormous saving in actual money, but in time, and accuracy, that is, with the aid of the talk-machine, the correspondent can dictate from two to three times as many letters as he can through the medium of the stenographer” (43).

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