112 Years Of The Dictagraph Spying MachineSubmitted by Chris Madcowski on Fri, 07/12/2013 - 17:38
From the Telephone Collectors Society
"...The heart of his system was a fairly conventional but very sensitive microphone which he called the Metrophone. It used a larger than usual diaphragm that could pick up conversation from a reasonable distance, and so could be combined with a sensitive receiver, either a watchcase receiver or an inbuilt speaker, and used as a desktop intercom. The idea of a handsfree office telephone system caught on quickly, and Turner’s company had trouble meeting demand from their factory in Jamaica, New York. From 1902 to 1913 the Dictograph Products Company Inc. , formed to handle the telephone part of the business, patented the basics of their system..."
"...In 1910 Turner used the Metrophone to produce the “Detective Dictograph”, a slightly larger and even more sensitive microphone intended for surveillance work. It was used by the Burns detective agency to secure convictions in a number of major criminal and graft cases. The courts accepted evidence obtained and recorded by the Detective Dictograph as evidence. The resulting publicity on “scientific eavesdropping” encouraged further sales of the intercom systems. The clarity and sensitivity of the microphone was demonstrated in one interview where the person in the remote office could hear the rustling of the journalist’s clothing..."
"..In the between-the-Wars range the handset was introduced. In Europe Fuld supplied the handset and cradle with the Dictograph logo moulded in. Walnut veneer over pine or beech was used in the later phones instead of solid timber. The cradle is a rather squared-off shape..."
"This precaution was due to the Colonel’s pet bogy, dictagraphs. There were no dictagraphs in the field, but that did not stop him and his aides from searching for them every day in lamp fixtures and telephone books, and behind calendars and pictures. They even sounded the walls. I gathered it was not American spies that he feared but Soviet police agents."
-Major George Racey Jordan, USAF (retired) c1952, From Major Jordan's Diaries chapter six