Maihak Reel to Reel Tape Recorders

Company Description

Maihak produced reel to reel tape recorders from 1953 to 1956 which were manufactured in Germany. These tape recorders targeted the market. The early models of Maihak tape recorders used tube electronics and later on they transitioned to solid-state tape recorders. The company produced 2 track machines with 110-120 voltage for the North American market.

The Maihak company was started in 1873 and is still going strong today. The original founder was an eccentric engineer called Hugo Maihak who wanted to make precision scientific mechanisms and instruments – and he did!

Today the company mainly makes seismographs. They made high quality precision audio gear for broadcast recording & studio use in the 1950s & early 60s. Very expensive and high quality by all accounts.
The company survived two world wars untouched, unbombed but the family were imprisoned by the Nazis in WW2 because they refused to make rocket guidance systems.
There is a photo of their factory in Hamburg in 1945 – all around is devastation, buildings completely destroyed by RAF bombing – and the Maihak factory completely untouched.

Maihak was one of the first companies in the world to use transistors.
What look like sub miniature tubes are actually giant transistors – the best of transistorised technology from 1953, large black OC 603s – about twice the size of the OC71 series that appeared in the ’60s.
Apparently in those days transistors were viewed with suspicion, as not many people really knew much about them.

Maihak was a world leader in film sound machines, until 1954 when Nagra took a good piece of the market. Maihak was the only tape recorder approved for use in coal mines as their low-voltage motors posed very little risk of explosion.
Today the company is partly owned by Plessey & Siemens, but it still essentially a family business.

More on Hugo and his company…

Hugo Maihak was born in Myslitz in Upper Silesia in 1858.
He studied an emerging branch of the technical sciences, mechanical engineering, for four years at the Bauakademie Berlin.
He had a preference for precision mechanics and became a gifted scientist and technician.
Fairly quickly after graduation he refined and invented a pressure diagram writer, known as the Maihak indicator, which would become standard equipment for most mechanical engineers.
In the 1880s, after working in Berlin for two years he moved to Hamburg which was the up-and-coming Place for manufacturing and had a port, useful for export. A short stint representing products for the company of machine engineer Georg Klug had him taking the company over in 1890. He began exporting special fittings and machine indicators for industry to England and America and changed the name to H. Maihak Aktiengesellschaft in 1900.
He died in 1912 at the age of 54 and is credited for developing early standards of German craftsmanship.

In 1948 Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk, Northwest German Broadcasting had been working with Zentraltechnik for their sound equipment and now had high hopes of developing a portable tape recorder. They approached H.Maihak AG who seemed like a perfect fit, with a reputation for production of measuring instruments and precision mechanics. They are were hired and were one of the first German companies to produce modern tape recorders.

MMK 1, (radio designation R25a) the Maihak reportofon (Maihak magnetic sound Suitcase). Portable tape recorder R25

The MMK 1 was followed by a whole series of successes up to the MMK 7.
The MMK 5 Tonschreiber was built in limited quantities for military use as a voice recorder running at 9.5 cm/s. This was followed by the MMK 6, produced around 1958. This was the first recorder using transistors and was very similar to the tube based MMK 4.

These tape recorders were very high precision devices in the 1950s and worthy of any collectors interest.

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General Information

Manufacturer: Maihak

Years in Business: 1873 To Present

Country: Germany