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Historical Microphones on Show at AES Show

The Audio History Library & Museum will present a collection of rare microphones at the AES and NAB NY conventions this week

Audio History Library & MuseumNew York, NY (October 18, 2020)—The Audio History Library & Museum will present a collection of rare microphones, including a 121-year-old Western Electric model and “surprises” from Neumann and Schoeps, to attendees at the AES and NAB conventions.

Examples will include WW1 military applications by ElectroVoice, General Electric, Magnavox, RCA and Western Electric; a 1918 Wente & Turas improve condenser; and the W. C. Jones’ double-button carbon mics, which took centerstage from 1921 onward. A marble block containing carbon, developed by Eugen Reisz with assistant Georg Neumann, became a European standard for the next decade.

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At the Jacob Javits Center, October 19 and 20, the Audio History Library & Museum will showcase a variety of historic mic models:

1901 Western Electric 143W “receiver”

1922 Western Electric 1-A double button

1929 RCA 4-AA/AP black cube with NBC badges

1929 Western Electric 618-A dynamic

1934 Shure 40-C condenser

1936 Telefunken Ela M 102 dynamic

1938 RCA 44-BX “Junior Velocity” ribbon

1938 RCA 77-B ribbon

1940’s surprise by Neumann

1954 Stephens Tru-Sonic OD-1 – first wireless mic

1980’s NADY HT-3 handheld and Pro 410 receiver – second wireless mic

And a surprise from Schoeps.

Offering some background to the word and the device, Audio History Library & Museum notes that the Oxford English Dictionary’s first entry for “microphone” (“small sound”) was in 1683 but described ear trumpets of the day. In 1827, Charles Wheatstone used the word microphone for a stethoscope-like invention. M. Charles Bourseul in 1854 hypothesized a person “speaking near a movable disc” in Vienna, with the process reversed for a listend in Paris. Philipp Reis invented his “transmitter” in 1861. Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray invented their transmitters in 1876, missing each other at the patent office on the same day.

In 1877, Thomas Edison created the dynamic, charcoal button, Plumbago, and condenser transmitters. In 1877, Emile Berliner improved an Edison device, calling it a microphone. Edison returned with a carbon disc in 1878 with Blake, Hughes and Hunnings joining the chorus. Clement Adler’s carbon pencil binaural mics were on stage at the Paris Opera to telecast to telephone subscribers.