Devised, researched
 and written
  Peter King Smith BSc

                                                         The mid-1960s, German-built multi-track tape recorder with FM/AM/SW radio

Unusual Uses

The man who stored telephone numbers
Schaub-Lorenz Music Centers have lent themselves to a whole variety of uses, including the provision of continuous background music in hotel foyers, pubs and parties.

One of the more unusual uses, Mike Solomons remembered, concerned an engineer who stored telephone numbers as tones on the music center's tape recording unit, so he could effectively telephone a large list of stored numbers! In other words, a telephone memory dialler.

It turns out that the engineer in question was the same Schaub Lorenz engineer who was brought over from Germany to train Mike how to repair the complex, faulty music centers in 1970.


Phonus operandi !

Here's how he did it. The Schaub engineer connected a telephone dialler to the tape recorder using a specially made circuit and then recorded a code that represented the number required. When played back, the tones went through more circuitry (devised by engineer) that was connected to the telephone line.


The procedure for making a call:

 - Look up a person you wanted to call (callee), who was registered by sector letter and number in a log book [e.g. recording logbook]

- Turn the track-selector dial on the music center to the selected sector letter and number of the callee

- Lift the telephone (receiver)

- Press the PLAY button on the music center 

The replayed electronic code would then dial the callee.


If you were doing this today, you would simply record the various dialling tones that you hear when making a call. The engineer may have had to record a simple set of tones to cause a relay to click, but Mike cannot be sure, as he has no idea what kind of dialling system [1] was in use in Germany at that time.



Fairies at the bottom of the garden

Herbert Hamann, a former Graetz employee who worked on the BBG (music center) project in Altena, gave a short account of a very unusual application he had come across for the music center during a talk at the 30th anniversary meeting of the GFGF radio club in Erfurt in May 2008.


A machine - described as a "strange sort of tape recorder" was spotted by an sound engineer at the bottom of someone's garden in a shed beside the Rhein-Herne Canal in Germany. He found a wooden cabinet which contained a music center chassis inside.

On top of the cabinet was a box containing two circular carousels with 18 colour slides. The music center was connected by a cable to the carousels, which moved the carousel by means of a drive motor and trip switch (on/off switch), and also played the next voiceover appropriate to the slide.


Two sets of Viewmaster eye pieces had been fitted to the outside of the box, enabling the viewer to see a series of stereoscopic slides which automatically moved slowly from one slide to the next, in synchrony with a fairy story recorded on the music centerĀ“s tape.


Apparently the machine had been used in department stores to amuse children whilst mothers went shopping!



1. Probably Strowger switchgear [author].