Collections Catch of the Week – Dictaphone


Submitted by M.Lenz, Collections Assistant

This week we have two Dictaphone brand dictation machines. These recording devices were most commonly used in offices to record speech for playback or to be typed. A staple in offices from the 1940s to the 1980s, digital recording phased out dictation machines such as these by 1990, with only a few die-hard offices left.

These ‘Travel Master’ Dictaphones came to us from the BC Packers offices. It could record about 15 minutes per ‘dictabelt’, the Lexan plastic belt that looped through the machine. When recording, a stylus would cut a groove into the plastic belt. Older versions of the machine used wax cylinders to the same effect, however the dictabelt was far easier to store and was one of the first audio recordings to be admissible in court, because it couldn’t be re-recorded. Thanks to the dictabelts, with these machines we know they are from c.1964-1975, because the belts are blue, and that’s the only time blue dictabelts were made.


Posted by m.horita
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