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Monday, May 16, 2016

Today in Radio History


Jack Mullin in WWII 
(photo courtesy Eve Mullin Collier)
May 16, 1946 Jack Mullin demonstrated Magnetophon at Institute of Radio Engineers convention

In July of 1945, a 31-year-old American soldier named Jack Mullin made one of the great career decisions of all time; he turned left instead of right.

The story began in 1941 when John T. “Jack” Mullin joined the Army just before WWII. His background in electrical engineering landed him in the Signal Corps and in 1944 he went to England to help solve radio interference problems caused by the radar installations that blanketed Britain.

Mullin became so intrigued by what he was doing that he would work till two or three in the morning, all the while listening to music on BBC radio broadcasts. The BBC always signed off the air at midnight. In search of continuing late-night entertainment, Mullin discovered that the German stations were on the air twenty-four hours a day, broadcasting symphony concerts all night that sounded too good to be pre-recorded.

Shortly after the Allies liberated Paris, Mullin’s unit was reassigned there and given the task of evaluating captured German electronic equipment. In July of 1945, Mullin went to Germany to look into reports that the Germans had been experimenting with high-frequency energy as a means of jamming airplane engines in flight. While on the mission, Mullin met a British army officer who, after a discussion of music and recording, asked Mullin if he had heard the magnetic tape recorders used by Radio Frankfurt. The officer raved about the musical quality of these recorders and urged Mullin to go to the station to listen. Mullin had already heard and evaluated the poor-quality, DC-bias tape recorders used by the German Army, and thought, "Either this guy is on to something or he has a tin ear!"

“On the way back to my unit, we came to the proverbial fork in the road," Mullin recalled. "I could turn right and drive straight back to Paris or turn left to Frankfurt. I chose to turn left. It was the greatest decision of my life.".......

After sending the Signal Corps two Magnetophons that he had modified with the all-important AC-bias record circuit, along with extensive documentation, Mullin legally obtained for himself two unmodified Magnetophons under war souvenir regulations. During his last few months in the Army, he took the machines apart and sent them home to San Francisco in pieces because regulations specified that only a war souvenir that fit inside a mailbag could be sent. In total, Mullin shipped thirty-five packages, all of which arrived safely. Within three months, Mullin had reassembled the machines and fitted them with “American electronics” of his own design.

AEG Magnetophon type K4 sp
at the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting
After rebuilding the Magnetophons, Mullin showed them to audio professionals who were excited by the extremely high-quality sound and the ability to edit a first generation recording with no degradation. At the May 16, 1946 meeting of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE, now IEEE) in San Francisco, Mullin gave the first public demonstration of professional-quality tape recording in America. Among the people in the audience who would later work for Ampex (the pioneering magnetic tape recording company) were audio engineers Harold Lindsay, Frank Lennert, Walter Selsted, and Charles Ginsberg (later of videotape recording fame). During the war, Ampex made tiny electric motors and generators for military use.
Jack Mullin and Murdo McKenzie
The company was looking for a new post-war product. After hearing Mullin's demonstration, they made the decision to build America's first professional tape recorder; an audacious choice for a company with only six employees
Until 1944, Bing Crosby had been doing Kraft Music Hall performances live on NBC. He hated the regimentation of live broadcasting and asked NBC permission to record and edit the shows well in advance of the broadcast. NBC flatly refused; they had a strict policy against pre-recorded programming...........

Read full story at Source & Credit :-         http://www.pavekmuseum.org/jmullin.html

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