The Tefifon – Obscure Audio Playback from Germany

While recently doing a search for something audio-related on youtube, I came across an interesting video about an audio playback device of which I was totally unfamiliar. It’s a device called the Tefifon.

The Tefifon got its start back in the 1930s as a recording and playback device much like the Dictaphone. Towards the end of the 1940s, the company decided to enter the commercial market and began producing consumer-oriented machines as well as music cartridges to play on them.

Cartridges for the machine could hold up to four hours worth of recorded material. Unfortunately, they were unable to license audio recordings by popular artists and had to make do with cover versions of material that was popular at the time. This put the company at a bit of a disadvantage.

As you can see in the video, the cartridges for this player are somewhat like the endless loop 8-track tape cartridges that were fairly popular back in the 1970s. However, the Tefifon cartridges do not contain magnetic tape. They contain a thin plastic band which contains parallel grooves like a phonograph record. You can think of the playback medium as something like an old thin flexi-disc record. Instead of the grooves being pressed into a circular format, they are simply located on a very long piece of thin plastic.

By the early 1960s, the Tefifon had finally had its day. Despite the introduction of stereo playback, the limited market in Germany (it was apparently never marketed internationally), the unimpressive music offered for the format and competition from the LP record, the Tefifon finally vanished.

Sit back and enjoy this video showing the Tefifon in action courtesy of youtube video producer Techmoan.

And if you enjoyed that, here is a follow up video with more interesting details.

 

 

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