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UGA Special Collections Library Online Exhibitions

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.

Condenser Microphones

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.

Wente capacitor microphone, 1917                            Western Electric 7A


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.


Ribbon Microphone Construction Diagram



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