Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Acousticon

Here's an uncommon carbon microphone from the Dictaphone days. This Acousticon microphone is housed in pure black, pressure molded, filled, phenol-formaldehyde resin, otherwise known as Bakelite.

Such an important sounding name! ACOUSTICON!! You know this device means business, and the name alone suggests an intimate knowledge of Classical language and modern technology, embossed with Art Deco motifs all along the oddly fractal surface, and squarely affixed to its mini-monument pedestal base in perfect proportion to the Statue of Liberty, or maybe a Western Electric 1B, but minified. The Acousticon may have been used on Henry Ford's desk as his intercom mic, so he could order more charcoal briquettes (which he invented) or call his son, Edsel, to take the helm.

Hugh found this gem, cleaned it up a little, and put it on display at the Microphonium Museum. Carbon microphones have a reputation for high noise and low fidelity sound, a telephonic crackle that is accompanied by the hiss of the high voltage across the carbon buttons inside that conduct more or less as sound pressure varies. Soon you will be hearing about the rebirth of the carbon microphone, but with all the old limitations solved, and with some new advantages such as extreme durability, and very high bandwidth. We won't name it "Acousticon" though.

Click on the image for excruciating detail of the Acousticon.


Anonymous said...

Apparently Henry Ford learned of a process to make charcoal briquettes during the time of the 1920s when he was having a lot of scrap from making model Ts It is thought that this came from his friendship with Thomas Edison. Ford's cousin was married to a Kingsford active in real estate. Kingsford bought timber land for Ford and the village was named Kingsford in his honor. The charcoal briquette plant was built there and eventually Ford Charcoal was renamed Kingsford. It has endured unchanged until 2005 when there were grooves added to enhance the kindling of the charcoal. Neat history at

Bob Crowley said...

Then we need to find out who the inventor was.

Let me know and we'll post a blurb about that inventor.