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Re: [Rollei] What did you do in the war? (long)

- ----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tim Elder" <telder  >
To: "rollei" <rollei  
Sent: Friday, May 16, 2003 2:30 PM
Subject: Re: [Rollei] What did you do in the war? (long)

> A remarkable number of German corporations were a part of
Hitler's war
> effort and were able to capitalize on inventions
afterwards.  Although this
> is a camera list, some might remember that BASF invented
magnetic tape
> during the WWII and their invention spread afterwards,
notably by the work
> of Bing Crosby.  Also, a number of American corporations
> (financially and otherwise) Nazi Germany before it became
> detrimental.  Dupont comes to mind, although there were
many others.
> I once heard a very chilling anecdote a long time ago when
I was shopping
> with my mother for high-end stoves.  Pointing to the
Gassego, the salesmen
> wryly noted this was the same manufacturer of the ovens in
the concentration
> camps.  "You know what the Germans used these for, right?"
he asked.
> Tim
  Those interested in this history should look up
I.G.Farben. This was a great monopoly of German chemical
companies including Bayer, Agfa, BASF, Hoescht, and quite a
few others. The I.G. controlled Agfa/Ansco in the USA from
1927 and had strong ties to DuPont. They contracted with the
Nazi's to operate factories at slave labor camps. I believe
there is a recently published book detailing the history of
the I.G. and its predecessors.

  BASF did not develop magnetic recording although they did
manufacture some of the earliest magnetic tape. Much of the
early work was done at Telefunken.
  There was also work done in the US at Armour Research. The
development of ultrasonic bias was doen independantly by
  After the war Telefunken machines were brought back to the
US by Jack Mullen and Col.Richard Ranger. Both developed
electronics based on US tubes. Mullen was active in the San
Francisco area. About 1947 he demonstrated his machine to
Bing Crosby, who was looking for a method of recording his
radio shows which would allow some editing and not degrade
the quality excessively, neither of which was possible with
disc recording.
  There was a "shoot out" in New York with Mullen and Ranger
demonstrating their magnetic recorders, RCA Photophone with
sound-on-film equipment, and disc recordings by NBC Radio
Recording division. Ranger's machine refused to work.
According to Jack Mullen, the engineers present preferred
the disc recordings because that was what they were used to
hearing but Jack won the prize when they asked when an
edited version of the show could be available. Jack said
something like two days, which he thought was too long.
Well, the other methods would have taken weeks so he got his
chance. Jack recorded Bing Crosby's program for about a year
on the old Magnetophone machines using the BASF tape he had
brought over from Germany. The tapes were almost all splices
after a while. I've heard one of the few existing
recordings, its excellent.
  About 1949 Jack felt out the Crosby people about
commercial development of tape recorders. They were not
interested in manufacturing but offered to distribute the
machines though Bing Crosby Enterprizes if Jack could find a
manufacturer. This he did in the form of the Ampex company
of Redwood City near San Francisco. Ampex had manufactured
small motors, mostly on government contract, during the war.
The market dried up so they were anxious to find new
products and jumped at the opportunity to manufacture the
machines. The first Ampex (model 200 so people wouldn't
think it was the very first) came out in 1948. It was
delibrately styled to look like a Skully disc recording
lathe, the Rolls Royce of lathes. The first were put in
service by the American Broadcasing Company, mostly for time
zone delay.
  There is a great deal more to the history than this but
its all terribly off topic here.
  Jack Mullen was a good friend, deceased for some time now.
He and I tried unsuccessfully to found a museum of sound
recording in L.A. We could never find a sponsor. Same sort
of problems there were creating a motion picture museum on a
smaller scale.
- ---
Richard Knoppow
Los Angeles, CA, USA