New Old Stock

I settled into the easy-chair, took a couple of slow, deep breaths. Then I reached over to the old portable cassette tape recorder and pressed “Play”. Instantly, a loud, mid-range tone blasted out of the recorder’s speaker. This was alarming and startling so I instinctively pressed “Stop”.

That pretty much spoiled the mood for guided meditation. I tried pressing “Play” several more times and the annoying tone returned each time. I removed the AC adapter cord, got out of the chair, and retrieved a set of batteries. After installing the batteries, I pressed “Play” again. The same tone returned. I allowed the tone to continue for awhile so I could analyze it. There was a subtle “motorboating” cycle barely audible beneath the loud tone. This told me that there was a fundamental malfunction.

I felt sad and nostalgic about the tape recorder. It had been a very useful tool ever since early 2001. It had been purchased from Radio Shack because I needed a reliable recorder to bring out of the radio station with me to interviews. The newsroom tape machines were usually in use or almost always reserved for news department priorities. With my own recorder, I was assured of having a machine to take out into the field. The added bonus, is that I had a nifty device to use anywhere for any recording I desired.

The machine’s last work-related interview took place on September 11, 2001. I had scheduled an interview with the head counselor of Lutheran Family Services the prior week for an overview of their work. The morning of the interview, we discussed domestic violence. We both marveled at how our planned topic about violence coincided with the terrorist attacks that were still taking place just prior to our interview.

A few weeks later, the newsroom was given two more tape recorders, this enabled me to use radio station owned equipment for interviews I needed to do for my job. My tape recorder could come home for my exclusive, personal use.

It got used a lot, nearly every day. It was a go-to device to record ambient outdoors sounds. I also recorded guided meditation tapes I used during the day. Eventually, the machine became the bedside machine to play relaxation tapes and audiobook tapes to help me fall asleep at night. I sometimes used its voice activated record function to monitor my sleep apnea. So yes, it was a very special machine.

The tape recorder had provided more than 19 years of trouble-free service. I hoped to find another one for sale on the Internet. Although Radio Shack has closed nearly all of its stores, they still have a limited on line presence. I checked their pages, but they did not have a good quality cassette recorder to sell.

I went to eBay, then to Amazon and searched for the same model of tape recorder. I scrolled through a few that people had put up to sell. There were a couple that were refurbished and one that was “like new”. At the bottom of the Amazon page, the last unit was “NOS” or new old stock. Better yet, it was available for immediate purchase, so I didn’t have to go through the hassle of babysitting an on line auction. To say I felt ecstatic would be an understatement.

I immediately placed the order. The replacement machine was scheduled for delivery in the middle of the following week. Much to my happy surprise, this Saturday noon, my neighborhood mail carrier parked his little truck in front of the house and walked up to the door with a well wrapped box. The seller had made the added effort to make certain the recorder arrived safely and ahead of schedule. He gets an excellent rating and review.

After removing the packing material, the original, factory sealed box sat on my sofa for me to admire. It was almost a shame that I had to cut through the factory seals and open the twenty year old box.

Of course, I opened it. The machine was in factory bubble-wrap nestled into the box’s cardboard presentation tray. The AC adapter cord and a monaural earphone were in a separate section of the tray. Everything was exactly the way it should be.

The old machine is at the top. The new old stock machine is at the bottom.

I eagerly plugged in the new old stock tape recorder and inserted a fresh cassette. After saying, “testing one, two, three” a few times, I played back the tape and heard my own voice.

Its great to have a nice cassette tape recorder to use every day. For my purposes, tape is more reliable and durable than digital equivalents. I’m thankful that someone had this new old stock unit available. I wonder if this machine will last 19 years, too.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes singer/songwriter Dolly Parton. “I ain’t never far away from a pencil and paper or a tape recorder.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Gadgets, Hobbies, Meanderings, Vintage Collectables and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to New Old Stock

  1. Alien Resort says:

    I didn’t know anyone was still buying cassette recorders and players. The tapes themselves would probably need to be newly-manufactured since the chemicals deteriorate over time.

    • swabby429 says:

      Cassette tape is surprisingly resilient…especially premium tapes. I occasionally play cassettes I bought and recorded on from the 1990s. Also, there has been a resurgence in cassette manufacturing. It is less well known than the resurgence in vinyl records, but is parallel. The odd thing about archiving is that when digital storage degrades, the data is usually irretrievable. Analogue storage at least allows partial recovery if it has degraded. BTW. I bought a box of shrink-wrapped Radio Shack normal bias cassettes a couple of years ago when our Radio Shack store closed. They work like new.

  2. I didn’t know Radio Shack still existed. It was a store I visited on just about every trip to the mall. I’m glad you found a replacement for your machine.

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