Three more groovy looking pieces of cassette hardware from the ST33 collection (well this is pretty much it to be honest!), something of a contrast to the in your face walkman knock-offs we showed before. The earliest machine here is the basic Philips ‘box’, one of the first cassette machines from around 1966/7 (they were launched in 1964 having been shown to the trade the year before). Philips designed a clever one piece control level, which worked a bit like a clunky automatic gear stick – sideways left for fast rewind, right for fast forward and in for play. Hit play and the red button for record. For some reason this control didn’t really catch on and was soon dropped in favour of the more familiar piano key layout which all makers quickly adopted. Outputs at the side allowed you to plug in the microphone supplied. This early machine seems to have spent all it’s working life in Sheffield, and still has the sticker from the Sheffield Photo Company on Norfolk Row where it was bought.
Machine two is a later model from Hitachi, who were fairly well respected hi-fi manufacturers back in the seventies (I had a larger stand-up model of theirs with detachable speakers which was very good). Note the printed woodgrain look on the metal speaker cover, a strange bit of decoration on an otherwise fairly functional piece of kit. An eject button was added (on the Philips machine you removed the cassette by lifting the lid and then pulling the tape out manually) and the integral metal handle which was a feature of many small portables.
Last up is my favourite, mainly as it’s a machine I really wanted to own in the seventies (it was actually launched in 1969 but remained on sale for four years) but was a bit more expensive than the basic models. Philips’ industrial designers really began to go for a sharply detailed look across all their goods, and this 2205 had lots of nicely moulded control buttons and brushed or polished metal finishing. By turning the player sideways, it looked more sophisticated and also offered tone controls and primitive tape counters. The downside to all this was that the player, which again had a nice chrome carrying handle, wasn’t as robust as the earlier designs. Philips curiously still seem to retain this streak of doing things differently; if I’d had the money I would have jumped at their large screen TV with the built in mood lighting which was produced only a few years back.