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Lee M 04:24, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC): Copied the following text into main article:


Please see for a more precise origin of the recording of Bing Crosby shows

In a recent artice in Radio Times (1 - 7 November 2003 issue, page 21), BBC archivist Sean Street claims that Ampex's professional audio tape as produced in the 1980s used flawed emulsion that flakes off over time, and that the only way to recover the recording is to bake the tape so that it can be played once and copied before disintegrating! Lee M 04:31, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

In "The Story of Bohemian Rhapsody", a documentary about Queen's early days on BBC3, they mentioned that the original master for Bohemian Rhapsody was so fragile that "it had to be baked in an oven before it can be played". Boffy b 10:21, 2004 Dec 5 (UTC)

I worked at Ampex from August 1981 to December 1985 and during my tenure there I had the opportunity to listen to one of Mallinson's talks on the history of magnetic recording. I think this story should be preserved for posterity. A Google search on J. Mallinson and Ampex will generate links to several IEEE journal articles authored in the 1970s and 1980s. I think the story will be lost if annotated here, so at some point I will attempt an edit of the main Ampex article [E. V. Pons-Worley, University of California].

Someone should mention that AMPEX tape was professional audio industry standard, and maybe mention Quantegy.

This comment was inserted in the article by user

Might I suggest that the spelling of Ampex's founder's name be checked. There are variant spellings of the name on the same page.

JoaoRicardo 03:14, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The name was Major John T. Mullin, nickname was Jack. 16. Aug 2005 a well sorted history story in German language is here

I probably should put the cleanup tag in the main article, but I have limited time right now so I'm just making some quick notes; Perhaps I will have time to come back later.

First a couple of notes on what I've seen here: Regarding "Flawed emulsion", getting magnetic particles to stick to plastic tape is no walk in the park! Also keep in mind that Ampex (along with many other manufacturers) produced millions, perhaps BILLIONS, of miles of tape starting in the 1950's. So, no doubt, some flawed tape was manufactured and distributed, and some of that may have ended up being used on Bohemian Rhapsody. However there are many other explanations, and without an analysis or statement from Ampex at the time, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. For instance, improper storage can cause shedding, as can heat or cold. Tape stored in proximity to generators, transformers, or other devices that create EMI (air conditioning compressor motors, for instance) can cause partial or complete erasure. Sunlight (or any UV source) can break down the tape polymers themselves! While this may seem like an unlikely scenario, keep in mind that with the vast amout of tape produces, statistically, probably everything that could happen to a tape, at some point, did. Misaligned tape guides. Worn record, erase, or playback heads. Misaligned tape tensioners, or the electronics that control the supply and takeup reel motors. And finally, plain-ol wear-and-tear! There was a story I heard about Fleetwood Mac's 24-track masters for Tusk, which were rolled back and forth over the heads so many times that they wore holes in the tape and had to dump the tape off onto another 24-track master! Apocyphal or not, it's certainly possible to simply wear out a tape. So a bit of hearsay repeated on the BBC is not exactly up to the encyclopedic standard of evidence.

NEXT! Someone said "Someone should mention that AMPEX tape was professional audio industry standard, and maybe mention Quantegy." (unsigned)... what does that mean? The industry standardized on Ampex tape? Was that a SMPTE standard, an IEEE standard, an RIAA standard, or a De Facto standard? I used a lot of ampex 1" tape for 8-track recordings on an Ampex deck, and I recall other tape being available but I'd have to agree if you said Ampex was the De Facto standard. Mention Quantegy in what regard? Aaah, you mean, when Ampex sold off their tape division, they renamed themselves Quantegy. Yes, that should be in there, and the little history on the Quantegy page could make a nice reference. And since you've reminded me of that refrigerator-sized 1" 8-Track deck we had at the Community School, that deck should be mentioned too... no, wait, I think that was a 3M!

Here are some points that I feel should be included in an article on Ampex

  • The development of the 1" type C format, and its prevalence in professional video in the 1980's and 1990's.
  • The role of 1" Type C in replacement of the Quad (2") format
  • Important 1" Type C recorders: The VPR-80, the VPR-3, and the VPR-6. VPR stood for Video Production Recorder; they were sometimes referred to in the industry "ViPeR"s: was this just a popular name or were they ever marketed as "ViPeR"?
  • Ampex's A.S.T. system = Automatic Scan Tracking; see the article on Video 2000 for a reference to an apparently similar or identical system used for a consumer format. I would be curious if there were any patent infringment lawsuits over this, and which preceded the other to market; I believe (just from memory) that Ampex introduced A.S.T. in 1976 or thereabouts. Perhaps an article on A.S.T. itself is warranted! The Video2000 article makes it seem that a system like this had only the function of making "tracking adjustments unnecessary", but in fact A.S.T. was able to compenstate for tape path alignment errors, whether they were present on the playback machine or recorded onto the tape on the machine it was recorded on.
  • Ampex's early Digital Time Base Correctors, which were not true digital devices but sample-and-hold (CCD or "bucket-brigade) devices; among these the important TBC-40 (with 40 lines of analog sample memory), the TBC-80 (80 lines of memory) and the TBC-6. I seem to recall a TBC-3 also, probably sold in conjunctoin with the VPR-3, which was the "Rolls-Royce" of the ViPeR line.
  • Compare the VPR series of 1" type C with Sony's BVH-1000 and BVH-1100 - The Ampexes were quite superior!
  • The slow death of 1" type C after the introduction of Betacam SP, D1, and D2. It took years for 1" Type C to die out.
  • Ampex's Final Straw: the Ampex D2 recorder ( I can't recall the model number). This is where Sony really started to destroy Ampex. The Sony D2 machines performed well, but the best field engineers at Ampex could not get their overbuilt machine to work for more than a couple weeks at a time. (this is my recollection from a videotape duplicaiton plant in San Francisco at the time).
  • Ampex's last gasp- "badging" Sony's Betacam SP recorders: the Ampex CVR-75 vs. the Sony BVW-75. In the industry we felt that Ampex had been backed into a corner, and were only badging Sony products to try to retain their loyal customers, and that they would have to come out with their own products to be taken seriusly. Also, using CVR-75's and BVW-75's, it seemed like the ones with the Ampex badge broke down far more often than their Sony counterparts, and we speculated that there was a conspiracy at Sony to sell Ampex decks with inferior hardware & electronics.
  • perhaps the Article should list all of the major models of audio recorders and video recorders produced by Ampex. What was that suitcase-sized 1/4" full-track deck I had as a teenager, was that an Ampex? THe guy who gave it to me told me it was the same model Elvis was first recorded on!

Anyway, that's a nutshell of what I recall about Ampex in the 1980's. I had a great amount of respect for them at the time and was sad to see them go down, and it was especially poignant when the famous Ampex sign on US Hwy 101 in Redwood City was finally taken down... the "end of an era". Tzf 23:13, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Merge Ampex Records[edit]

The Ampex Records article is pretty thin and it doesn't look like there is much to add to it. I suggest merging it into this article. -- Austin Murphy 14:53, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Mid 1990s notes[edit]

  • reorg in 1992 or 1994. became a DE corp. reuters profile two divisions: patent troll div and recorder div.
  • main products are DCT (video), DST (data), DIS (inst), DCRsi (instrumentation) 96 SEC report.

The fabled Ampex 350 and 440[edit]

I'm surprised that through this entire article, there hasn't been one mention of the Ampex 350 recorder, which is arguable the most frequently used audio recorder of the late 50s and 1960s and the most famous of Ampex's audio inventions. Many important recordings were produced with it. The classic Blue Note catalog was recorded on Rudy van Gelder's 350. Some people still swear by them to this day. Qphilo 01:30, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, I was wondering where 472 (cassette) and 456 (r2r mastering tape) were. Wow. 456 was THE word in mastering for folks that could handle 370 nWb/m. Then there was 499 for the really tough cookies. Binksternet (talk) 01:55, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree, the main photos, of the 1260 and the F44, have virtually nothing to do with what made Ampex famous and an industry pioneer/leader. I'd suggest that the consumer deck pics be deleted or, if not, at least relegated to what they are, a VERY minor part of what Ampex was doing at the time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:25, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

8 track notes[edit]

By 1958, Tom Dowd of Atlantic Records had become the owner of the third Ampex 8 track [1]

Atlantic bought it in 1958[2]

"Dowd began to make the first hit records with it, recording the likes of Ray Charles, The Coasters, Ben E. King, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus."[3]

Bobby Darin's "Splish Slash" was one of the first hits recorded on an 8-track[4]

Ray Charles "Yes Indeed!" album was recorded on 8-track. Released October, 1958 [5]

"Ray and the gang got to New York for a session in late February, only a month after Tom Dowd had bought an Ampex eight-track recorder for the 23456 studio."[6] Tom Dowd argued that 8-track recordings could be re-mixed down to stereo at a later date[7]

Robert.Harker (talk) 05:37, 13 February 2010 (UTC)


Was this an Ampex award?

Robert.Harker (talk) 04:50, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Les Paul was a customer not an inventor of the 8-track recorder[edit]

Trying to correct a popular myth that Les Paul commissioned Ampex to build the original 8-track recorder. He did not even if he liked to tell the story. If you read:

[Sel-sync and the "Octopus": How Came to be the First Recorder to Minimize Successive Copying in Overdubs]

You will see that Ampex came up with the idea and shopped it around and Les Paul was the only person to respond:

"... Walter Goldsmith ... sent proposals for such a machine to as many as twelve recording artists. Bob's memory is that only Paul responded at first"

(Third to last paragraph on page 211)


Ampex ceased operations in October, 2014. Delta Information Systems bought what was left, the military/aviation speciality digital recorder business. Article updated to "was". A sad end to a long tradition. John Nagle (talk) 19:05, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

Confusing sentence in main article[edit]

I saw the following sentence in the main article and it's confusing to me:

"Ampex Data Systems, remains a GOING concern as part of the Delta Information Systems group,[21] manufacturing airborne recording systems for the aerospace and defense industries, and which previously also produced digital archiving systems for both broadcast and aerospace/defense applications"

The capitalized word above: Is it supposed to be "growing" or "ongoing" or what?

Also, the whole sentence feels like a run-on sentence. Could it be broken up or re-worded? Rricci428 (talk) 05:26, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

This is the zombie company problem, where the company is dead, but the brand, zombie-like, lives on. The same problem shows up at Blockbuster LLC, Zenith Electronics, and Westinghouse Electric (1886). When the company ceases to operate but the brand name has a new owner, Wikipedia usually refers to the old company as dead and "was" is used to refer to it. Ampex had a side business making solid-state storage devices for aerospace applications, and Delta Information Systems picked that up in the bankruptcy, along with the Ampex name. The California Secretary of State's database shows AMPEX as "Surrendered" and "Merged Out", so calling it a going concern is a bit much. Changed the text to "A remnant of the company, Ampex Data Systems, remains as part of the Delta Information Systems group" John Nagle (talk) 19:13, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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  1. ^ Blogs at Tony Gibs 6 - Recording pioneers
  2. ^ Classic Tracks: Ray Charles' "What'd I Say"
  3. ^ End of the Line for a 'Free Bird'
  4. ^ The Splish Splash Session
  5. ^ Ray Charles Albums – 1950s
  6. ^ Ray Charles: man and music By Michael Lydon, Routledge, 2004
  7. ^ Jive Talkin' with Arif MARDIN