Office equipment (4), IBM recording and transcription machines, metal / plastics / electronic components, designed and made by IBM, United States of America, 1963-1968
The word processing system consists of recording machines and transcribers. The recording machines are equipped with an index sheet that can be marked by buttons to indicate the end of a letter or if explanatory remarks were included (such as the description of an attachment required for a letter). The belt and the index sheet were then sent to the person who was to type the document, using the belt and the index sheet on a transcribing machine.
The recording machine came in two sizes - portable and desktop. This acquisition includes two types of portable recorders. An original portable or 'transportable' and two smaller machines which superseded it. A microphone was attached by a separate cable. The portable machine could also be used as a transcriber by using the foot pedal for stop, start and rewind.
The small cream machine includes a leather cover and carry strap which doubles as the grip to hold the machine while the user dictates. This machine was superseded by the black machine - with carry handle integral to the outer case. Both machines were driven by a unique battery - its positive and negative terminals were on the opposing ends of the battery. Both these machines have inbuilt microphones. They were not fitted with transcribing facilities.
The largest machine is the desk model, mainly used by executive staff. It is powered by normal 240 volt supply.
The principle was to use a wide loop of magnetic tape, termed a belt. The belt was moved longitudinally, and was 'written' on by a small recording head that moved laterally and gradually across the belt.
The small portable machines are 15 cm wide, 12 cm long and 4.5 cm deep. The corresponding measurements for the desktop machine are 29 x 24 x 7.
There are two sizes of magnetic recording belt. The early models used a 4 inch belt, whereas the later models used 3 inch belts. The tapes are used across the machines.
Pieces of cardboard - They were used when the belts were sent to the secretary or typing pool (or were posted) to protect the belt from creasing or any other damage. They also had a slot for the index strip that was created during dictation that carried the indication to the transcribing person where an individual letter or report finished and where there may have been some instructions to that person on, for example, attachments that needed to be included with the finished letter or report.