three objects 2018 03 051. High Speed Audio Cassette Tape Duplicator

Purchased through Audio Visual Services of Gloucester in 1994, the high speed audio-cassette tape duplicator cost a bundle in relation to the size of the budget, but revolutionised life in the Archive overnight.

Imagine the task.

From 1989 to 1996, and leaving aside a few reel to reels, all of the confererence and oral history recordings made by the Archive and Study Centre were recorded on audio cassettes,  over 750 of them: Maxwell Jones, Harry Wilmer, Harold Bridger, the ATC Windsor and Arbours Crisis Centre conferences...hundreds of individuals and events recorded on 90 minute (45 minute a side) audio cassettes.

Each of these recordings had to be backed-up for preservation purposes, and every interviewee was given at least one copy of their recording: for groups and conference break-out sessions these numbers could multiply! Leaving aside back-up and donor copies of tapes which had been made and given to the Archive by others (not an inconsiderable number), we're talking a mimimum of 1,500 to 2,200 hours of duplication. 

Moving from the tape-to-tape system which copied one side at a time in real time, to a high speed duplicator which copied both sides of the master tape simultaneously, was therefore genuinely revolutionary. An hour and a half of monitoring and duplicating time was reduced to minutes. We could offer researchers our support service - providing back-up, interviewer and interviewee copies of their recordings in return for deposit of the master in the oral history collection - without blanching. It became quicker and less onerous to get copies to transcribers, and speeded up the turn-around time for getting copies of their recordings and transcripts to interviewees. We could even, as we did, venture into small-scale audio-tape publication. It was wonderful.


2. Printed letterhead

A more or less immediate investment on initiation of the Archive and Study Centre, professionally-printed letterhead on high-quality paper was not only a labour-saving device, but set out the stall of the new Archive and Study Centre in the pre-Internet, pre-email world of letter-writing and snail-mail. It was printed for us a ream at a time by Rapid Print of Cheltenham, then in two premises on the Upper High Street (shop-front with commercial photocopiers on one side of the road, printing and binding plant on the other). It used the Garamond type face which PETT had adopted in the years when it too had professionally-printed letterhead, thereby grounding the new Archive and Study Centre in the past and carrying forward a tradition, while looking to the future: it said "We are here to stay, we are serious and professional about what we do and how we go about it, and presentation and attention to detail are important."

Among the details was the job title for the new archivist - "Research Archivist". This was a research archive. The implications of that were and are immense. The title changed in later versions; but the nature and purpose of the Archive and Study Centre itself have remained the same: not simply a repository; not simply a place to receive.


3. Address Stamp

We got our self-inking stamp from a specialist corner shop, run by a young couple in an old residential part of Cheltenham, which we found through the yellow pages - the real yellow pages, which used to come as part of the massive telephone directory which strong-men tested and sometimes broke themselves on, trying to tear in half. A quarter of a century on and the stamp is still going strong, imprinting "Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre, Church Lane, Toddington, Glos. GL54 5DQ" on countless envelopes and labels. It is almost impossible to convey how many hours and cramped fingers this stamp has saved, and what an immediate relief its purchase was. It is a small thing, but has had a disproprotionate effect on efficiency and job satisfaction. In an improbable office fire, it would be one of the first things we'd rush to save.

We subsequently bought library and a few other self-inking stamps from the shop. The fact that the stamps have survived intact and working so very many years after purchase may help to explain why the shop itself is no long there. The couple would no longer be young; but if you come across this, and if you know who you are, thank you.