The Birth of the M56, by Dale Manquen
The 1960s saw a tremendous amount of tape recorder development. In addition to new Ampex products, which included the AG350, MR70, AG440, and MM1000, there were new companies that entered the market. Scully, 3M, MCI, Stephens and AutoTec were among the new entries. At the same time, individuals were building custom configurations with new track formats using heads built by Lipps, Nortronics, IEM, Norton and Applied Magnetics. The 3 and 4-track recorders using ½” tape were soon eclipsed by 8 and 12-track 1”, and then 16 and 24-track 2”. The jump from 4 to 24 tracks took place in the blink of an eye – about 5 years! During this time studios were also scrambling to update their consoles with more inputs, more busses, and more flexible monitoring to accommodate overdubbing, the new way of recording.