The Advent of Broadcasting
1917 to 1940s
In the early days of broadcasting, people were often frightened by the new technology. The solution was to cover microphones in lampshade-like enclosures, to hide the microphones from the public eye. Featured here are three examples of "lampshade mikes" in use.
With the advent of commercial broadcasting in the early 1920s, the need for better microphones arose. Western Electric, the manufacturing branch of Bell Telephone, developed what was then called the "electrostatic" microphone, as well as the "electrodynamic" microphone. These later came to be known as the condenser (or capacitor), microphone and the moving coil microphone, respectively.
A diagram of an early Western Electric condenser microphone, developed by Wente in 1917, is featured in Figure A1. The Western Electric Model 7A, shown in Figure A2, is an improvement on Wente's initial condenser model, and was manufactured in 1927. The Model 7A is one of many early condenser microphones collected by Mr. James Steele.
Moving Coil & Ribbon Mics
Following the invention of the condenser microphone were the inventions of two very similar types of microphones; the moving coil (or dynamic) and the ribbon (or velocity) microphones. Figure A3 demonstrates the construction of a basic ribbon microphone. During the 1930s and 1940s, the microphone manufacturer Radio Corporation of America (RCA), made a number of ribbon microphones. The gallery below contains two examples of early RCA ribbon microphones, and two examples of early RCA moving coil microphones.
- Paquette, Bob. The History & Evolution of the Microphone. Edited by Nathan St. Pierre,1999. Pg 393.