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1973 ad for Sony reel-to-reel tape deck

Submitted by on August 13, 2010 – 9:38 am 5 Comments

This is a vintage ad from National Geographic, April 1973. It features a Sony TC-377 reel-to-reel tape deck, with the phrase:

“Whatever weird instrument your great-grandson will be playing, the Sony TC-377 will capture it.”

Click on the image for a larger version:

Ironically, as technology progresses, the lifetime of the media media itself actually shortens. A vinyl record is still listenable 100 years after it’s made, but a CD only lasts about 10 years, and CD-Rs even less. Hard drives have an even shorter life span, but luckily we can make lossless backups of our music now, something that was impossible when this ad was created.

Our expectations of recording media have definitely changed over time, and this ad really underlines that.

The ad itself seems quaint, naive or funny now (and not only because the “weird instrument” of today is loop editing and beat mixing software on computers), but at the time it was quite high-tech. Imagine replacing the tape deck with a handheld digital recorder to put it into perspective of today’s technology. I wonder where we’ll be when we look back on that as ‘quaint’…?

via noiseforairports.


  • Andy R says:

    I see your point when comparing the reel-to-reel to a handheld of today, but I see this add far from being ironic. Even in 2010, studios around the world continue to use analog tape machines. The text of the ad is actually quite true, many people have and do continue to pass these from generation to generation.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Andy R
    Reel-to-Reel to CD Services

  • Matt Mower says:

    The thing that stood out for me in the advert was the encouragement that you should mix background music onto the narration of your life story. Presumably that music was only to be supplied by your musical grandson.

  • I own one of these tape machines. It still mostly works. It was rescued by a friend from a council tip. However although it no longer records (probably why it was thrown out) it still plays tapes.

    I plan to open it up one day and see if I can repair it. For now it is in my lounge reminding me that tape still has a roll to play. On my last CD I used some tape effects (a Fostex cassette four track) and had a wonderfully time experimenting with reverse tape, delays and echoes.

  • Brandon says:

    This is great. Looking back on it now I bet it was true more often than not. Its like handing down an ipod to your boy in todays world. But honestly what beautiful machines. Wish somebody would do a limited run and make a new Reel to Reel machine. For now we have to rely on the people keeping Reel to Reel Tape alive. Cheers.

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