Analog Disk Recording Information Portal
Fairchild Disk Recording Lathe
The Fairchild Recording Equipment Corporation is now probably best remembered for one of their signal processing units, the all time classic Fairchild 670 Compressor. The company was founded by the prolific entrepreneur, Sherman Fairchild, who founded more than 70 companies during his life. His companies designed and manufactured a range of precision products ranging from Aircraft and Photographic Equipment, all the way to Disk Recording Lathes and Semiconductors. While the original Fairchild Recording Equipment Corporation has long gone out of business, Fairchild Semiconductors is still very much alive and a giant well-established in the electronics industry.
What is not widely known is that the Fairchild Group's first steps in sound recording technology pre-date the Fairchild Recording Equipment Corporation as an entity! Their first sound recording products were marketed by the Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation in the early 1930's, and included a disk recording lathe, a cutter head and a a cutting amplifier (then referred to as a recording amplifier).
The manufacturing quality and precision of their products was exemplary, from the very beginning, and was to remain throughout the shift to the Fairchild Recording Equipment Corporation and until the Fairchild Group withdrew from the sound recording field. One would certainly be hard pressed to find machine tools and operators in the present day, capable of turning work to the level of precision found in the early 1930's Fairchild disk recording lathes. Additionally, these lathes were constructed from high quality materials, including stainless steel, cast aluminum and phosphor bronze, which have largely withstood the test of time and are still in working condition, over 90 years later (2018).
The Fairchild Recording Equipment Corporation employed some of the world's most skilled and qualified audio engineers of their time, including Rein Narma, Norman J. Anderson, George Alexandrovich and Erling P. Skov. As a result, several technological innovations can be traced to the Fairchild research laboratories, including one of the very first stereophonic cutterheads, a novel implementation of displacement-sensitive motional feedback, advanced vacuum tube cutting amplifiers using ceramic transmitting tubes, and electronic speed regulation systems.
Apart from recording products, the company also manufactured turntables, tonearms, reproduction cartridges, preamplifiers, and power amplifiers. Their electric motors were of the synchronous AC type and were of very high quality as well. These were most likely manufactured by one of the several Fairchild companies and were probably originally designed for critical aircraft applications.
J. I. Agnew restored and heavily modified an early example of a 1930's Fairchild Model 199 disk recording lathe, back in 2015. The process has been photographically documented and can be seen in the disk recording lathe project section. This lathe was featured in a 2017 documentary film titled "Magnetic Fidelity: A Love Story", directed by Elina Verikiou, and was also used for an interesting direct-to-disk recording experiment, documented on the Agnew Analog Blog.
Fairchild Disk Recording Lathes:
* Model 199
* Model 539
* Model 524
* Model 740
Fairchild Cutter Heads
Fairchild Cutting Amplifiers
Fairchild Signal Processing Equipment
Fairchild Model 199 Restoration and Modification Project
Share on Social Networks