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Only gradually as viable recording methods were developed did the use of recordings for repeats, or for internal listening to assess the success of a programme, become possible.As a BBC Engineer and then Studio Manager from 1961-2007 I saw some of these developments take place: and though obviously I had no contact with the earlier systems I did work with people who had used them or worked with people who did: so I can comment on some of the history from my own experience.

This made it useless for repeating items, and was used very sparingly for important events such as royal speeches.A major use for the machines was for the Empire Service, which started in 1932, and often required programmes to be broadcast in the middle of the night; the Blattnerphone allowed these to be recorded in advance. The speed was unstable, the sound quality was hissy and lacking in top, and both the heads and the tape could break easily.Editing was possible, though this required either a soldering iron or a spot-welder and left an audible plop as the joint passed through, so it was rarely done.Optical Films Cinema films were made with sound from the end of the 1920s; disk and optical recording ran side-by-side for a time, but the advantages of optical were considerable, particularly in editing, and in that the track was on the projection print alongside the picture and so couldn't get lost or out of synchronization.Though the quality could be noisy at first, it was rapidly improved.Magnetic recording had been around since Valdemar Poulsen's 'Telegraphone' of 1899 - a wire recorder without amplification (the carbon microphone - as used in telephones - was connected directly to the recording head) which could just about drive headphones.

However there were many technical difficulties, and it was not until the late 1920s that a moderately practicable magnetic recorder was developed in Germany.

Despite the problems, the machines proved useful, though the majority of broadcasts continued to be live.

By 1935 a new machine had been developed, the Marconi-Stille, using the same principles but with advanced techniques to attempt to address the problems of the Blattnerphone.

The tape was liable to snap, particularly at joints, which at that speed could rapidly cover the floor with loops of the sharp-edged tape.

Rewinding was done at twice the speed of the recording: apparently one occasion a reel came loose, bounced on the floor and went straight through a partition wall.

When the BBC was formed in 1922 there was no electrical recording system outside laboratories.