Gray Audograph - Turn up, the ray-dee-oh.

Obsolete technology news now, from 1949. Audograph wants to save your secretary's time for other secretary duties, like filing or making coffee, probably!

The Audograph was basically a vinyl record recorder for the office, replacing personal dictation sessions between the executive (A man, obviously) and the secretary (A dame, natch!). The ad copy reads quite innocently, assuming that every executive assistant was, of course, a woman. This was very likely the case in the vast majority of offices in 1949.

By gaining all the time your secretary now devotes to "taking dictation"... instead of spending a third of her time at your desk, notebook in hand, she would save hours in which to give you constructive, far more valuable assistance... junior executive assistance... if you would only make it possible.

One of the things the female secretary could be relied upon to do would be to transcribe a rambling mess like that into a properly structured sentence. Correction and reinterpretation is something she'll still have to do when taking dictation from the stupid record instead of the boss himself. Her job is safe, even with the Audograph. She'll spend the same amount of time taking dictation from the record instead of Mr. Mooney, there. This situation makes it clear that her time is not valuable. The bosses time is. The illustration doesn't even give her a face. She's just a silhouette with a gray gradient in place of an identity. Well done, 1949. There's a reason you're the past.

Interestingly, the Audograph recorded sound from the center outwards to the edge of the disc. This is unlike conventional records and exactly like Compact Discs. My guess is the purpose of this was to allow the manufacture of different sized discs without mechanical complication of the machine. See, no matter what size the disc is, if you start in the center, the needle begins in the same place. It just stops when it reaches the edge of the disc. If it recorded starting from the outside, the machine would have to either A) detect the diameter of the disc and choose the start position for the needle or B) have the user place the needle manually at the start of the recording. Doing it from the center outwards is clever.

CDs record from the center because, while the Compact Disc format was being devised and negotiated between a consortium of companies and manufacturers, the diameter of the discs was up in the air for a while. The engineers chose to design the standard to record from the center so that the disc diameter guys could fight it out as long as they wanted without forcing the mechanism to be redesigned. Clever.

Sign me up for some cleverness like that, please.

In the picture, Mister Mooney seems to be recording the sound of himself holding up two fingers. It looks like he still needs his (younger and hipper) secretary to explain how the thing works. Or better yet, just operate it for him.

And now, please enjoy these fine lads from 1984 who called themselves Autograph and probably shared similarly forward-thinking opinions on the role of women in society as the Gray Audograph company. Turn up the ray-dee-oh. I need the myoo-zik. Gimme some moe. Right you are, Autograph. Some Moe, coming right up.

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