Names that wouldn't work
A couple of names from the '40s that probably wouldn't work in today's hysterically symbolic environment.
The Recordio leads to a real question. I've already asked why the phonograph was such a late development
. Overall, humans are just more interested in sight than sound.
More specifically, why was the recording
side of sound so uninteresting and undeveloped? Edison's very first machine recorded and played equally well. It quickly evolved into the Dictaphone, which served well in offices for 50 years but never moved into homes. Phonographs for home use immediately
became play-only, with all recording done by commercial studios and distributed in quantity. This runs parallel to the development of the telegraph,
which began as a personal two-way communicator and soon fell back into a commercial service.
The Recordio ad suggests and sells a number of uses, which means people weren't thinking of those uses on their own.
Tape recorders became commercial around 1952. Tapes were easier in one respect: you could re-record and re-use a tape. But reel-to-reel tape is tremendously less convenient than discs. 8-track cartridges didn't even bother with recording. People sometimes used cassettes to pick up broadcasts, like the basic use of the Recordio; but rarely used cassettes to record their own voices for 'audio mail'.
In the '50s I knew lots of techie types. Radio announcers, engineering profs, ham operators. None of them had a Recordio. The only neighbor who had a Recordio was a mother whose Army officer husband was stationed overseas. She used the Recordio to exchange voice mail with her husband. Why was she the only one?
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Oh. Quick answer. The Army and USO provided Recordio units on many foreign bases, so this officer's wife had a guaranteed two-way conversation. Civilians couldn't count on the recipient to talk back. This still doesn't help with the broader question: why was nobody interested in recording at all, even for their own amusement and memory?
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Unfounded guess: Narcissism works with light and fails with sound. Mirrors for light have been around forever (ponds were here before humans!) and most people enjoy
looking at their own face. Mirrors for sound didn't exist until Edison, and most people are horrified
when they record and hear their own voice.
Labels: Asked and sort of answered