Thanks For Everything, Bing

Friday, June 14, 2013


Brooke speaks with writer Paul Ford about the remarkable connection between Bing Crosby, magnetic tape, Nazi technology, and the computer hard drive. Ford's post about Crosby appears on the New Yorker Elements blog


Paul Ford

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [2]

Carl Ian Schwartz from Paterson, NJ

Actually, magnetic recording had a pre-World War II history in this country, but it was recording on a spool of WIRE. These were used in offices for dictation.

Tape recordings were used in Germany before World War II for news broadcasts. If you listen to classical recordings, there is a quantum leap in sound quality in late '42/early '43, when large paper-tape recorders were used for mastering.

While 33-1/3 rpm recordings were introduced by Columbia in 1948 for the home market, this was NOT the first time they were used. RCA Victor tried in the early 1930s, and it found more use as "radio transcription" discs. However, Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded music commercially on 33s in the early '30s. The Philadelphians gave the American debut of Schönberg's late-romantic "Gurre Lieder" in the spring of 1932, first in Philadelphia and then at Carnegie Hall. They then recorded it on both 78s and 33s, and the CD I have was taken from the 33s. The sound quality is amazing...but this is because Stokowski took the effort to study electrical engineering at Temple University and then worked hand-in-hand with RCA Victor (with whom the Philadelphia Orchestra had a recording contract) to ensure the best possible sound quality. Just listen to the 1929 recording of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, remastered as a CD. Hard to believe it was done 84 years ago!

Jun. 16 2013 11:02 AM
Paul Bowman from Baltimore

Loved this. A decidedly up note to close on this week.

Jun. 14 2013 11:03 PM

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