Telefunken Model 77 Magnetophon Tape Recorder (1959)

When I saw the price tag of $3.99, I just had to rescue this sweet little recorder from Thrift Shop Hell. If I didn't buy it, who would? And there's too much quality German engineering inside to let it be cannibalized or tossed onto a junkpile.

This is a four-tube, four-track, stereo recorder. The tape reels are original Telefunken issue and they feature performers such as Shelley Berman, Harry Belafonte, and other 1960s notables.

Very little wear is apparent, although the rubber drive belts need to be replaced. They have dried and stiffened with age, causing them to slip.

Somebody told me that you can revive the belts with heat, by boiling them for a few minutes, but that didn't work for me. I guess they are too far gone. Even after heat treatment, Shelley Berman's voice tends to fluctuate between an adolescent yowl and a basso profundo at unexpected intervals. The rest of the electronics and the drive motor seem to be in fine shape.

One speaker is mounted inside the main cabinet and a second oval speaker is carried inside the cover. In the large photo, you can see the remote speaker plug fitted into its jack in the main unit. Jacks are also provided for a microphone and one other audio source, such as a record player or radio.

The workmanship in this recorder is very nice. I had a lot of fun taking apart all of the machined aluminum rollers, cleaning them up, carefully lubricating things where needed, and putting it all back in place. I have worked on many radios during recent years, but it had been ages since I looked inside a tape recorder. They sure have a lot more moving parts than a radio!

About one year after posting this web article, I received this additional information from Stefan Rossbach, a German collector:

The Magnetophon 77 was produced from 1959 to 1963. It 
was, although it's very tiny, rather expensive (699,- DM), so
it's not so easy to find today, compared to its monophonic 
brothers M74, M75 and M76. By the way, the M77 was the first 
full stereo tape recorder by Telefunken.

Thanks, Stefan!

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