5.4.14 Wire Recordings Though the principles of wire recordings were demonstrated at the very end of the 19th century, and various dictation machine manufacturers produced working models in the 1920s and 1930s (see 5.4.15 below), it was not until around 1947 that the wire recorder was successfully marketed to the general public. The speed of wire recorders was not standard and varied between manufacturers and even, on occasion, from model to model. After 1947, however, manufacturers mostly adhered to a standard speed of 24 ips and a reel size of 2¾ inches. Wire recorders did not have capstans, and so the speed would change as the take up reels became full. The size of the take up spool was integral to the correct replay of the wire, and very often related to a particular machine or manufacturer. The take-up spool is generally a fixed part of the machine. The height of popularity of the wire recorder was in the years from the mid 1940s till the early 1950s, a period which coincided with the development and introduction of the technically superior tape recorder and the wire was soon considered obsolete. Even in its heyday, the wire recorder was primarily used as a domestic recorder, though some were used for commercial purposes. Though the wire fell quickly from favour, wires were available in speciality outlets until the 1960s. Early reel sizes were large in comparison to the 2¾ inch reels which become the most commonly used reel. Some wires, mostly early in the history of the wire recorder, were made from plated or coated carbon steel, and these may now be corroded and difficult to play. Many wires, however, are in excellent condition being made from Stainless Steel with 18% chromium and 8% nickel, and have not corroded. The principle of wire recorders is comparatively simple, so that the construction of a replay machine is possible. However, the complexity associated with successfully spooling and playing the fine wire without tangles or breakages suggest that the best approach to replay is to use an original machine, though it is worth noting that some experts have modified tape machines to replay wires.When using original machines it is recommended that the audio electronics be overhauled to ensure best performance or, preferably, replaced with audio circuitry using modern components (Morton 1998, King: n.d.)