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Friday
Feb262016

Auto-Reverse: The Hard Way

In 1972 to avoid their customers the inconvenience of getting out of a chair to turn a cassette tape over manually, Akai developed Invert-O-Matic. This was an amazingly complicated electro-mechanical auto-reverse system constructed from hundreds of perfectly syncronised belts, wheels, levers, switches and sensors. It really is a joy to watch it in action - and you can do so in the video below. 

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Reader Comments (15)

Hi Mat, amazing technology around at that time, excellent engineering, shows what was possible in the 1970's, even though I'd never saw it before even though I lived to through the 70's !

What I'd love to know is where these historical units get stored all this time, are there huge warehouses of 40 year old stock never opened? There seems to be.

As always, thanks for listening...

Daz

February 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDaz

Daz, my guess is that they mostly come from old independent shops (mostly elsewhere else in Europe). You've seen the sort... faded old stock in the window that's never going to be sold. At some point the business closes, probably when the owner dies, someone buys the contents of the stockroom/basement at auction and it ends up on eBay.
That's my best guess anyway.

February 27, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Nice...
Like to see you do a longer video of your mechanical devices mechanisms in slow motion set to the Blue Danube.
As a mater of interest was that part of the video "2001" inspired ?

Keep up the good work.

Oh by the way used your review of the "Drift Stealth 2". I now Have one..

February 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPhil

The 2001 shuttle docking sequence is a classic that's been the influence behind many slo-mo sequences including my 2007 toaster video https://youtu.be/exGtj4jjbco and Homer eating 'chips' in space https://youtu.be/P8xP1JioXTM?t=27s

February 27, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Wow, you got that AKAI jewel, brand new! O_O
Impressive machine that I've already knew but never seen with this attention to detail. Excellent as always!
I have a Nak RX-505 almost new, working perfectly and sounding better than new thanks to some upgrades. If you need photos or videos of it, let me know. I also have a video about it in my channel, but only in spanish.

If I didn't have a wife and two kids at home I'd love to have that machine at home ;-)

Keep it up. Regards,
Hugo

February 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHugo

This brings back memories Matt. When it can to changing tapes one of the best and most complex devices I remember was a Betamax tape stacking system. Dealers were expected to install these devices in the showroom. I cant remember how many tapes it held but it overcame the problems of recording time by allowing several Betamax tapes being held in a hopper. When the tape came to the end it would eject the old tape and load in another by a series amor belts and a hoper.
When you think that the programmer allowed you too set your recorder to record many more hours that you could fit on a standard Betamax tape would allow then you needed a system for changing tapes. Sony are the first company that produced an electro mechanical system that did this.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vtg-Sony-AG-200-Beta-max-Video-Cassette-Tape-Auto-Changer-AG-Made-in-Japan-/321830885382?hash=item4aee9d9806:g:aYkAAOSwLVZVy5mA

February 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Travis

Amazing. I have been trying to find out about the Phillips cassette auto change player that you show a German promotional leaflet for. I had one in the early 1970s the I was about 14 tears old. My fist cassette player had failed. I was desperate to replace it and begged my father to get a new one. He worked for a bank and was the manager of a typing pool. The typists would transcribe dictation cassettes onto paper using typewriters, Phillips provided the dictaphone type machines. He got a refurbished Phillips auto-change deck refurbished from his contact with the Phillips rep.

It was a vet quirky machine, It differed from the one pictured as it did not have the 5 slider controls on the left that I presume is EQ. It had loverly back lit VU meters and made amazing clunking noises when changing cassettes. Now I have a model number I can begin my quest to replace it.

Compact Cassette has an undeserved reputation for poor quality hifi performance. In my humble opinion they are no worse than poorly encoded mp3 128 kbs files. The artefacts just present in different ways.

I've been loving your videos. They as fun and accessible. You are right in the way you don't delve into technospeak and concentrate on the experience of using the gadgets. You have been promoted to the precious space on my browser bookmarks bar.

I'm very much a geek when it comes to audio and video recording formats and in the past worked in broadcasting where I transferred no end of different consumer formats to profession recordings.

A useful resource on these obscure formats can beed seen at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TVARK

Keep Up The Good Work !

Simon

February 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Interesting, thanks.

What would happen when (if) the tape jammed? Would it try to flip it and thus make an even bigger mess? I agree when you remark that this sort of electro-mechanical work is all but gone.

February 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTheo Faron

Simon, thanks for the TVArk link - I think I may have seen it many years ago when I was on dial-up, but I'll enjoy looking though it now without the long wait. You may have seen I added some links in the video description on youtube to the Philips in action - here it is in action https://youtu.be/rjXEiY8677w
The one you remember is probably the Philips N2401 http://cassetterecorder-museum.com/poze/n2401.jpg

February 28, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

'Invert-O-Matic'! it sounds as if it could come from the workshop of a certain Wallace & Gromit...

February 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGrahamK998

Dear Mat and fellow 'techies', techmoanies???

What a cracking video. When I studied engineering many years ago, a couple of my lecturers were always going on about the 'beauty' of well designed engineering; form and function and all that stuff. This cassette turner was a great example of that with a design of 'over engineering' a solution to a problem that was at best - marginal.

Never-the-less, there was a certain elegance to it, especially with a little help of the Blue Danube.

Mat, another excellent job. I hope there's still enough retro tech around for you to get your teeth into. A pin ball machine?

Chris

March 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris L

Genius, I was screaming at the monitor to show it in slow-mo.
Thanks, I love this site and your videos are just brilliant.
Long may they continue.

Where do you actually start to look for a 44 year old brand new cassette deck anyway ?

March 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I spend hours on ebay. It has a lot of power-tools that many people don't use such as setting up saved searches with alerts as well as a curating a list of favourite sellers. Learning foreign names for things helps as well e.g. "tonbandmaschine"

March 6, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Beautiful photography on this one!!!

March 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC d

Hi. I have one of these and an AKAI CS-50, that shares a very close mechanics (actually a simplified one), has a built-in 2x4W power amplifier but lacks Dolby and noise limiter. Mechanics for both the GXC-65D and CS-50 is somehow hard to fix. As Simon asked in his post, I had a hard time disassembling and fixing the CS-50 because someone tried do remove the tape inside of it by brute force. Mechanics was jammed and some metal parts were bent. It took me two weekends to put it back together, though.

September 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLuiz C. Vieira

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