Magazines on tape and the machine that plays them

  • Published on Oct 22, 2019
  • A look at the Handi-Cassette II a specialised machine for playing magazines and books from tape - and possibly creating Vaporwave.
    Links to things mentioned in the video:
    A video about American Printing House:
    Choice Magazine Listening:
    A short article about Jack (& Jill) Fox
    Retro Grooves Vol. 3 - available from and

    If you’re wondering why I’m praising the work of APH in the US when here in the UK we have the RNIB who didn’t get a mention...this really isn’t something to be jingoistic about. All these organisations do invaluable work. The reason APH are mentioned specifically in this video is because they made the machine I’m demonstrating. If RNIB had made it, they’d be the ones getting the mention.
    Similar organisations
    US has APH
    UK has RNIB
    Canada has CNIB
    Germany has DBSV
    Australia has RSB
    These are the top five subscriber countries.
    This channel can be supported through Patreon
    *******Patrons usually have early access to videos*******
    ----------Outro Music-----------
    Over Time - Vibe Tracks
    ------Outro Sound Effect------
    ThatSFXGuy -
  • Science & TechnologyScience & Technology

Comments • 1 237

  • Raymond Kitchen
    Raymond Kitchen 2 days ago

    Omg! @3:43 it sounds like Napoleon XIV's 'I Live In A Split Level Head'. Jump to 1:05 in the link.

  • Glen Dippnall
    Glen Dippnall 3 days ago

    Thank you, Great review

  • fdmillion
    fdmillion 5 days ago

    I am legally blind and my late father was also legally blind. I have years of experience using and working with various technology devices for the blind. I own a large collection of audio technology for blind people, much of which I've used myself through the years, and some of which I have just because I collect and enjoy audio equipment as well. I have a few points for you:

    1. The HandiCassette II actually came out in the late 1990s, I used one in high school in 1999. There was also a previous mode (HandiCassette) that was manufactured by GE and bore a GE logo. I have working examples of both machines. The original HandiCassette was actually smaller than the II, and the main functional difference was it lacked the stereo output capability. APH also manufactured (and I have) a tabletop version of the 4-track recorder that resembles one of the "classroom" tape recorders.

    2. The machine that many blind users would have used to listen to the 4-track format was manufactured by Telex and is known as the C-1. It is easily recognized by its striking yellow color. C-1 machines were (and I believe still are) available to blind individuals in the US at no charge. The C-1 cannot record at all. The main reason anyone would purchase a 4-track unit was either for record functionality and/or for portability, since the tabletop C-1 is a large and heavy unit. (Yep, I have a working C-1.)

    3. Many other third-party devices were modified by various companies to be compatible with the 4-track format. I own an Aiwa walkman, a Sony dictation-style handheld recorder, and a Panasonic mini-boombox style recorder that are all capable of playing the 4-track format as well as standard stereo 2-track cassettes at either speed.

    4. The modern incantation of books for the blind provided at no charge involves a "Cartridge" format. The cartridge is actually just a USB flash drive in a custom shaped casing, and an accompanying tabletop player (again, available at no charge) can be used to listen. Books are stored in the open DAISY format (EPUB and DAISY are very closely related); an encryption scheme is used to prevent "unauthorized" people from listening to the materials. Similar to the cassette formats, many third parties make compatible portable book players that can read the same DAISY format files from an SD card. Blind and other print disabled individuals in the US can download these special format books and magazines for free via the Internet.

    5. You mentioned that the Choice Magazine Listening recordings predated the cassette - this is because, originally, magazines and books for the blind shipped on both reel-to-reel as well as record. Reel-to-reel is pretty straightforward - they did the same thing that was done with cassette using a stereo reel-to-reel deck to achieve four tracks, and ran the tape at 1 7/8 IPS. Reel to reel was in some ways even more efficient, as a typical 1800 foot 90 minute reel could hold 12 hours of audio. (Yep, I do have a working 4-track reel-to-reel recorder that can play these tapes, but I don't have any actual examples of officially recorded reels, but I do have a few I've made on my own for fun.)

    Records are even more fascinating to me. The records were originally simple vinyl records recorded at 16rpm, but this obviously was not economical for a "Throwaway" application such as magazines. To solve this, a flexi-disc format was used running at the amazing speed of 8 RPM. A typical flexi-disc could hold about an hour per side and was played on a record player that was also available at no charge to blind people. The record player had the unique feature of having a "reversible" needle - once the stylus went bad, you would simply flip a lever and the other side of the stylus would be usable as another stylus. (It was at that point that you would contact the library for the blind to request a replacement stylus be mailed to you.) I do have a working record player, and I am pretty sure I still have some of the flexi-discs but I haven't been able to find them...

    I've got a ton more trivia and facts about audio technology for the blind that I'd love to share. @Techmoan are you interested? :-)

  • Nathan Findley
    Nathan Findley 6 days ago

    Do they have anything read by Morgan Freeman lol

  • Hanif Ismail
    Hanif Ismail 12 days ago

    I very like Techoman very the best review old electronic all the time.

  • Justin M
    Justin M 13 days ago

    my boom box has automatic music search that listened for a silence while FF i like how the instruction tape is standard so you can listen to it on a regular player

  • fgfgfgf drtduud
    fgfgfgf drtduud 17 days ago

    My casette player/recorder had a high speed feature for high quality recording. You trade recording length for quality or quality for recording length. Also it's the same thing as a big tape recorder just miniaturized. You would have 4 speed settings on those.

  • fgfgfgf drtduud
    fgfgfgf drtduud 17 days ago

    4:05 lower the voltage of the motor driving the tape, problem solved.

  • Phonotical
    Phonotical 22 days ago

    Ahh, the return of the YTwatchdog

  • janick
    janick 23 days ago

    very nice review ! thx a lot

  • rrrandommman
    rrrandommman 26 days ago

    I love how brutally functional it is, that's a kind of beauty I find in many purpose-built machines. Also, it's as it turns out, combined with a Retro Groves cassette, a vaporwave machine! I love it!

  • Kai Laz
    Kai Laz 26 days ago

    I really love your work and you deserve all your success and more. Videos like these are why you are a model for youtube content providers. I honestly see many reference you.

  • Emulated Excitement
    Emulated Excitement 27 days ago

    I used to have one of those cassette recorders, and several of the tapes a national library service would send. Now it's all distributed by a mail order with giant flash drives, or through the internet. Word of warning about those decks, the belts tend to die very easily, and they're well-known for wow and flutter issues. also do not drop it or your door will fall off. the West Virginia School for the blind had several of those decks, along with their larger brethren. The larger decks had more slider controls, the we even had one that had no slider controls and was only mono.

    • Emulated Excitement
      Emulated Excitement 27 days ago

      Also the specialized cartridges you mentioned are just standard 4GB flash drives, but the USB connector is shielded on three sides, and you would need a special extender to plug it into a computer. Also the books on there are stored as Daisy books, which they standard developed for the blind. Your player has to be authorized from whatever organization is in your country, in my case and ask the library service, or you can use a handful of compatible third-party players, from companies like humanware. The player also has a USB flash drive slot, and it can play back MP3 and wav files, but it has some of the worst audio leveling I've ever seen.

  • David Andrews
    David Andrews 27 days ago

    9:17 ... PortaPorn!!!!!! ;)

  • Music Nut
    Music Nut 29 days ago

    Really Sorry to hear about your sight, hope your learning to adapt to it ,thank you for your videos.

  • Mark Boyd
    Mark Boyd Month ago

    Reminds me of the chopped & screwed music from Houston

  • TheGitWizzard
    TheGitWizzard Month ago

    I REALLY appreciate you sharing this info, and for reminding me of the great Jack Fox. I grew up listening to him and many others through our National Library Service for the Blind's "talking books" program.
    I am saddened at your loss of vision, and I can imagine it is worse for knowing what you're missing. Don't let the frustration win out. For one thing, you have a built-in adaptability you've learned from messing with tech for so long. For another, there are many many many resources to help you out. Having Mrs. Techmoan by your side is a huge advantage.
    I so enjoy your channel! Thanks for many hours of fun!

  • DynVec
    DynVec Month ago

    8:57 Please consider putting a religious warning next time. While I don't mind the summoning of a lower plane creature, religious folks tend to call that blasphemous.

    WARREN GIBSON Month ago

    My Mum who was legally blind used these.

  • FingeredDonut
    FingeredDonut Month ago

    15:43 Vaporwave.

    16:27 Nightcore.

  • Mick Berry
    Mick Berry Month ago

    I was wondering.... what exactly is an Anti Rolling Mechanism?

  • Mesquite Automotive

    Techmoan is so pure

  • Neqael
    Neqael Month ago

    Thank You, Mr. Techmoan, for what You do here. Thanks to Your videos I recently bought my first vintage radio recorder (Grundig RR 940) similar to the one in Your video It was not very expensive and half-broken, so now I'm fixing it looking for spare parts all over the world :). And it's so much fun! Now I'm starting to look for cassettes for it. All of it thanks to You. Get well and live long.

  • Socrates
    Socrates Month ago

    I am sorry to hear about your eyesight.

  • Crashdance22
    Crashdance22 Month ago

    16:08 Rick Astley

  • _-'EliE FlaG'-_
    _-'EliE FlaG'-_ Month ago

    Looks like you can adjust the voice pitch to reach Morgan Freeman mode. Cool

  • Jordan Strayer
    Jordan Strayer Month ago

    I swear the narrator is Leonard Nimoy!

  • radiotvphononut
    radiotvphononut Month ago

    I use the Library of Congress talking book program and they first started using cassettes in 1969 and for the next 30 years, they circulated materials on both cassette and record (the records were mostly 8 1/3 rpm, with the older ones being 16 2/3 rpm). The last talking magazines on 9" 8 1/3 rpm flexible disc records were issued in December, 2000. In 2013, the last talking magazines were issued on cassette and since then, everything issued by the Library of Congress talking book program has been on digital cartridges and digital downloads.

    • Daniel Daniels
      Daniel Daniels Month ago

      My girlfriend is legally blind and has a cassette deck from the Library of Congress talking book program, but it’s much different than this one, and she’s never used it much. She’s also got the digital cartridge machine you mention and we’ve used it a lot. Those cartridges are USB in a standard FAT32 format, but the files are in a totally proprietary format I was never able to get anything else to play or convert. Another interesting thing about them is that the recordings are unique and made specifically for the talking book program, not the commercial audio book versions released elsewhere. Never seen their records, but those sound fascinating

  • Bill Fox
    Bill Fox Month ago

    I found this really interesting, and am truly sorry for your sight loss, being as you are one of my favourite TheXvidrs. I've learned such a lot about unusual media formats, many of which I had never previously heard of.
    When this notification first came up I initially thought of a computer magazine which came on tape, during the ZX Spectrum years. I can't remember what it was called but it consisted of a cassette on a magazine sized piece of printed card. It may also have had Commodore 64 stuff on the other side of the tape, but I may be just confusing that with something else. I think it produced something on screen rather than being audio, so it was a digital magazine of sorts.
    Perhaps another viewer can supply more details, or even samples.
    Wishing you all the best for the future.

  • Foebane72
    Foebane72 Month ago

    Sorry to hear about your failing eyesight :(

  • LegoBuilds HQ
    LegoBuilds HQ Month ago

    The index tone is not audible at normal playback. I use an aph american printing house for the blind field recorder which was manufactured by ge. APH is selling new batteries for all ge built aph tabe / testers back to the 80's

  • Asger Vestbjerg
    Asger Vestbjerg Month ago

    Great video as always
    Thanks for sharing :-)

  • Diaval
    Diaval Month ago

    3:43 Munchkin Conference Call??

  • Kevin Jokipii
    Kevin Jokipii Month ago

    16:10 you morphed her voice into Rick Astley!

  • James Plotkin
    James Plotkin Month ago

    Mind you don't lose that label (speed/stereo/track) as the adhesive seems to have perished. I'd look to all to assure their fixation.

  • Rachel Collinson
    Rachel Collinson Month ago

    Hello! Thanks for making this great channel. I've been enjoying it very much for the past few weeks. Have you heard about this? - storing music on X-rays?! I'd love to see a video about this if you think it's even vaguely in your wheelhouse...

  • HappiestCabbage
    HappiestCabbage Month ago

    Techmoan wave

  • Sgt Rock 68
    Sgt Rock 68 Month ago

    That little player is really inserting. It has more useful options that than a top tape player from the early 90s with lots of buttons and levers. Although, I did have a boom box with a built in car alarm in '86.

  • Wilson Lam
    Wilson Lam Month ago

    I was a bit sad reading the comments seeing that your health has been on decline. I hope you get to enjoy the things you love to its fullest.

  • 3 7
    3 7 Month ago

    Sorry to hear about your eyes going out.

  • Bob Deinterlace
    Bob Deinterlace Month ago +1

    Poor eyesight, no sense of taste. Hope your hearing isn't next, Mat.

  • Fey Prevesk
    Fey Prevesk Month ago

    I became aware of this sort of thing a few years back when I was living with my dad, who is blind. It's a good service. :3

  • jeffrey44
    jeffrey44 Month ago

    I'm not in the blind club but I do wish more hardware had nice bright yellow labels on the various ports and controls.

  • willmatic 84
    willmatic 84 Month ago +1

    😄👍🏼 this is almost like the home alone 2 tape player recorder.

  • Andres Bravo
    Andres Bravo Month ago

    Hmm, I think there could be some Audio effects in here...

  • James Anthony
    James Anthony Month ago

    3:24 You know, that's about the speed I listen to my podcasts an audiobooks at. Actually sounds just a touch on the slow side to me, though I'll occasionally slow them down a bit if I'm doing something that requires more of my brains attention, or if the point of the "book" is the flow of the words rather than the information they impart.

  • James Anthony
    James Anthony Month ago

    The podcast 99 Percent Invisible did an episode that covered, among other things, the history of services like this. Apparently there's a device called an Optophone that works in the form of a sort of audio braille. Sounds like an interesting way to "read" with the ears. Might make for an interesting video.

  • FlyingSurprise
    FlyingSurprise Month ago

    Tape Technology FTW!

  • Court Rutherford
    Court Rutherford Month ago

    That was nice to watch. My sister was blind and had one of these machines as well as its predescessor. She got tapes from the Library of Congress and listened to a great number of books. Sadly we lost her before digital books went mainstream.

  • Gabriel
    Gabriel Month ago

    Odd question, what laptop/tablet are you using at the beginning of the video to read the message if you dont mind me asking.

  • R Michael Boyer
    R Michael Boyer Month ago

    Nice machine. I would not mind having one. I have not seen the end of the video yet but I am wondering which tape mechanism is in the machine.

  • king james488
    king james488 Month ago

    had a bit of trouble with the braille subtitles.

  • Qview Q
    Qview Q Month ago +1

    So, in the '80s my father, as a social worker promoted the Talking Newspaper for the Blind organisations that existed across the UK. Typically they
    used standard cheap mains cassette tape players with tactile piano keys from Woolworths rather than bespoke non standard equipment so most users could use their own player or one provided free by organisers or social services.
    Volunteers would set up a talking newspaper covering a few local towns and would typically get agreements with local newspapers to read their news articles on to tape for side one and feature content for a magazine type approach on side 2. The national news was available on BBC Radio 4 but for the sense of community local news and events is where Talking Newspapers were key. Four or so volunteer readers would often take it in turn each week to read an article each in rotation in a one-take reel-to-reel tape process.
    After minimal editing a couple of high speed Wollensak high speed tape duplicator that could copy 6 x 60 minute branded tapes both sides at the same time every 3 minutes allowing hundreds of tapes to be produced in an evening. (EMI tapes were favoured as were pretty indestructible). The Post Office delivered the cassettes free in purpose made plastic Velcro sealed mailers giving the users a few days to listen to the tapes before mailing them back.
    There were never any charges to the users. Often support groups called "Friends of the (local) Talking Newspaper" provided funding with Social Services to back the costs of players and tapes. All the work was by volunteers. Newspapers provided the content free. Premises were usually provided free by supporters or Public Libraries.
    Very slick, very professional and much enjoyed by thousands of users for many users across the UK.

  • Conrad Green
    Conrad Green Month ago

    Hey techmoan I saw a rare Sony wm-31 Walkman in stereo for $174.95 and free shipping. You would love it

  • Karol Karpiński
    Karol Karpiński Month ago

    So it's vaporwave machine now.

  • Finn Renard
    Finn Renard Month ago

    15:42 Vaporwave mode ON

  • jody wales
    jody wales Month ago

    Techmoan sir you should be knighted for this. Thank you Techmoan.

  • Ed Howden
    Ed Howden Month ago

    Friend of mine has been loosing their sight for the past few years, here in the UK. They're signed up with a service, the RNIB I think, that gave them an MP3 player about the size of that tape player and they regularly gets USB sticks with newspapers and magazines read out on them in the post. When they've finished listening to them they pop them back into the padded envelope flip the address label around and post them back.

  • David Evens
    David Evens Month ago

    Many years ago I recall seeing some video of a non-mobile device for playing back these types of tapes. Because it was not required to be mobile, it had a mechanism that flipped the tape as needed, as well as automatically switching to the next track.

  • TheFlyingScotsman
    TheFlyingScotsman Month ago

    Probably a bit late to this one - but we have our own service in UK: RNIB. My grandfather was blind and used to use their free book service.