Ferry Reel to Reel Tape Recorders

Company Description

Ferry produced reel to reel tape recorders from 1950 to 1960 which were manufactured in Australia. These tape recorders targeted the consumer market. The early models of Ferry tape recorders used tube electronics and later on they transitioned to solid-state tape recorders. The company produced both 2 and 4 track machines available in 220-240v & Battery voltages.

1947– Jack Ferry begins by building 5 Tube Table radios in a small factory in Lower Mitcham Adelaide, working for Peerless Radio prior to starting his own factory at Clapham, Adelaide, where he manufactured turntables, pickups, amplifiers and disc recording equipment
1948 – Jack Ferry built a number of prototype wire recorders
1949 – Moves over to the new tape technology
1950 – First production model, a single speed full track one motor and no fast-forward.
Ferry starts making reels out of Bakelite
1951-1953 – Second production R-R Tape recorders made of cast aluminum now offering half track variable speed, two speeds with fast-forward and rewind with an optional radio tuner. A single motor drive using a figure 8 belt and two clutches for take-up and rewind. The motors were made by a Mr. Lenard Senn
1952-1954 – M5 Model Introduced
1954 – Business registered as Ferry Sound Industries, the company is known to do customization projects.
Starts making three motor recorders in 1954 and used gramophone motors made by BSR in England which were also used for all semiprofessional tape recorders from 1955. Company producing approximately 5 R-R tape recorders per week

1954 – Introduces equalization or tone control for the recording process

1955 –  Changes from cast aluminum to sheet-metal to lighten up. Jack creates an 88 page manual, summarizing everything he knew about R-R tape recorders which was sent to the Australian tape recordist Association

1956 – Jack auditions what is the first stereo tape recorder built-in South Adelaide. This Stereo machine is nicknamed Frankenstein the monster and it had three motors, three speeds half track staggered with a 7 watt tube stereo amplifier.

Company switches to anodized aluminum faceplates and the introduction of colour.

Jack was elected president of the Australian tape recordist Association a position he held until late 1959.

1957 – Produces a portable 12 VAC recorder which became a prototype for the bluebird which would be used for music applications as well as dictation and matched bluebird Australian typewriters in appearance

1958 – Develops a prototype of a smaller portable with 6 V DC motor and a transistor amplifier which never took off as the Japanese tape recorders began to arrive in Australia

1959 – Much like many UK producers, the cost efficiency of using Collaro tape transports was adopted by Ferry

1961 – The distraction of television causes a slump in the demand for tape recorders and with the Japanese invasion,  it would appear that the company was wound down at that time

1966 – The passing of this bright and energetic sound engineer, Jack Ferry, who died in December, marks the end of homegrown South Adelaide sound engineering

It is estimated that Ferry sold 1500 tape recorders in total

1956- The first experimental stereo recorder was made.

General Information

Manufacturer: Ferry

Years in Business: 1947 To 1961

Country: Australia

Years making R-R Tape Recorders: 1950 To 1961

An interesting Ferry Resource!

All Ferry tape recorders and information are from the collection of Keith Ellison.
Keith’s father Neville Ellison was Jack Ferry’s right-hand man working with him for approximately 10 years from 1953 to 1963. During Neville’s retirement in the 80’s/90’s he assembled a very excellent collection of Australian tape recorders and had a small museum in the front room of the family home in Malvern, Adelaide South Australia. Neville passed away in 2008 and his son Keith proudly carries forward, displaying the collection in local museums and pop-up exhibitions in libraries,  especially during the South Australian History Festival during May each year and can be found by searching- “Ellison Museum of Radio & Magnetic Recording”