Other Minifon Pages One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight

Video Presentation Of The Minifon
Shot For The TNT TV Mini Series The Company
On Location At The Spy Exchange And Security Center
And The Spy And Private Eye Museum
With Ralph Thomas.

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Minifon Portable Wire Recorder, 1940s-1950's
The Minifon Portable Wire Recorder was state-of-the-art for it's time. It recorded to a wire spool much like the bulky Webster Chicago Wire Recorders did but this one was highly portable. Note that the case is steel and not plastic. Back in those days, things were made to last.

The Minifon was released to be sold as a portable dictating machine that traveling salesman could carry with them. It's use as a dictating machine did not develop in mass market. Instead, it become a popular product for note-taking by reporters, insurance adjusters, salesmen, private investigators, detectives and others. It also became a popular bugging device. The Minifon had a recording time of one hour which was very long for it's time. The basic machine cost around $289.00. Considering the fact that the average salary in 1940 was $1,299.00 a year, a Minifon cost over four month's salary. If you had one, you had some very expensive equipment.

The Minifon developed with many accessories (see brochure) including "long play" wire cassettes that would record up to five hours, telephone recording attachments, foot control, watch microphone, table loudspeaker, deluxe leather carrying case, body harness and anything else the company could come up with. Like spy camera makers of it's time, the idea with the cassette wire spools was to make it so only the spools made by the company would fit the unit. That's much like the situation with ink printer cartridges of today. After it's original somewhat marketing failure as a portable dictating machine, sales of the Minifon skyrocketed in the 1950's as an all purpose high end mini wired recorder. It was sold in over 80 countries throughout the world through selective high end dealers. It became one of the most popular audio recorders used by new reporters, interviewers, private investigators, law enforcement and spies.

Promo Photo

Depicting how up-scale and modern the Minfon was. It featured a business executive using the unit on a plane. Note the package of cigarettes. The photo was used in the Minifon brochures when the product was marketed in the USA.

The Minifon watch microphone which was an optional accessory with the recorder. The watch microphone was a highly popular accessory with private investigators. The cord would have to go up one's arm and then down the body to the body harness for the Minfon. Talk about "wearing a wire" this was it!

Closeup Of The Watch Mic For The Minifon


Brochure specifications on the Minifon
The Minifon was sold in 80 countries through special dealers. It was manufactured in Germany.

A Minifon with the cover opened
The Minifon took one battery and had operating instructions on the inside front cover.


In the 1960's Minifon recorders converted over to transistors and magnetic tape instead of recording to wire. They continued to be marketed in the USA as small recorders.

Other Minifon Presentations And Models

Click Here To Access A Large Photo Of The Inside Of The MiniFon

(Below) A Review Of The Minifon With The Body Harness That
Appeared In A 1950's Review From Popular Science.


See The Spy And Private-Eye Museum Presentation
On The Minifon B Model

See The Spy And Private-Eye Museum Presentation
On The Minifon With Body Harness Model


Off Site Information On The Minifon

A D V E N T U R E S   in   C Y B E R S O U N D
The Minifon : An Early Portable Dictating Machine by David Morton

History Of The Minifon-From The HIstory Of Sound Recording

From The Ralph D. Thomas PI Vintage Collection
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