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Encyclopedia > Dictabelt
1917 Dictaphone advertisement

A Dictaphone is a sound recording device most commonly used to record speech for later playback or to be typed into print. The name "Dictaphone" is a trade mark of a corporation which makes such devices, but has also become a common way to refer to all such devices, especially historic versions that used phonograph cylinders as the recording medium, as was common from the late 19th century until the mid 20th century, when audio tape became the preferred medium. Sometimes when the general term rather than the specific company is referred to, the variation "dictophone" is used.

The name "Dictaphone" was trademarked by the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1907, which soon became the leading manufacturer of such devices. Dictaphone was spun off into a separate company in 1923.

The machine marketed by the Edison Records company was trademarked as the "Ediphone".


Shortly after Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, the first device for recording sound, in 1877, he thought that the main use for the new device would be for recording speech in business settings. (Given the low audio fidelity of earliest versions of the phonograph, thinking that recording speech would be more important than recording music may not have been as absurd an assumption as it may seem in retrospect.) Some early phonographs were indeed used this way, but this did not become common until the mass production of reusable wax cylinders in the late 1880s. The differentiation of office dictation devices from other early phonographs (which commonly had attachments for making one's own recordings) was gradual.

Thomas A. Edison dictating in his library, 1907

Electric microphones generally replaced the strictly acoustical recording methods of earlier dictaphones by the late 1930s. In 1947, Dictaphone replaced wax cylinders with their DictaBelt technology, which cut a mechanical groove into a plastic belt instead of into a wax cylinder. This was later replaced by magnetic tape recording.

Today the Dictaphone company sells a range of products, including voice recognition software and interactive voice response systems (IVR, for voicemail loops.)

As of 2004 Dictaphone is split into three divisions:

IHS - Healthcare Division focuses on Dictation for the medical industry
IVS - Dictation for Law Offices and Police Stations
CRS - Communications Recording Solutions. Focuses on recording Phones and Radios in Public Safety Organizations and Quality Monitoring solutions for Call Centers.

External links

  Results from FactBites:
JFK assassination: Report of the Committee on Ballistic Acoustics; Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and ... (2224 words)
The original DPD Channel I Dictabelt was examined by some Committee members and by William Sturtevant of the Dictaphone Corporation for possible physical evidence of a double recording.
With this identification, any substitution of a different Dictabelt for the original could not have been accidental; it would have had to be deliberate, and it would have involved counterfeiting the writing for the date and belt number.
Similar difficulties face the hypothesis that the original Dictabelt was copied to another Dictabelt, that the cross talk was picked up during the copying, that the second Dictabelt was accidentally substituted for the original, and the original was destroyed.
WhiteHouseTapes.org: About the Kennedy Tapes (8767 words)
Audiotape and Dictabelt recordings relating to the 1962 integration crisis at the University of Mississippi and to the 1962-1963 tax cut proposals were chosen for the first phase project.
The Dictabelt recording was manually operated and therefore deliberate like the audiotape system, however, it shows the same lack of systematic regularity and a certain amount of whimsical or accidental recording.
Dictabelt #1 and its corresponding rough transcript were both removed from the collection before it was turned over to the Kennedy Library.
  More results at FactBites »



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