Fascinating, but you're leaving out something:

Because "Crosby couldn't bear to watch [Game 7 of the 1960 World Series] live, although he did listen by radio while in Paris,... he had hired a company to record the broadcast by kinescope. The early relative of DVR meant that he could go back and watch the 2-hour, 36-minute game later if the Pirates won." This tape, found in his wine cellar, whose conditions preserved it, is the only video of Mazeroski's series-winning home run. See https://www.espn.com/mlb/news/story?id=5611152

Of course, his son said he abused his children so viciously two committed suicide. He should be remembered for that as well.

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This had to be one of Ted’s most engaging post ever. Thanks, Ted.

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Hot greed burned a hole straight through the social fabric by overfeeding insatiable egos and appetites for - what? How much money does it take to fill a soulless void? More, evidently, than billionaires have already amassed and now hoard. Some restraint somehow seems saner. What do folks think?

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Great story!

FWIW, the German Magnetophon wasn't quite secret. British radio magazines were writing about it and picturing it in the 30s, and describing its use for rebroadcasting programs. It looked very much like modern reel-to-reel recorders.


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Dec 21, 2023Liked by Ted Gioia

I was interviewed when MJ died (won’t say why). I knew the bad stuff, but Ted’s right, it deserved a review of his trauma as well which was only rumored about for the most part. This was a Tech discussion...best to stay in that lane.

And golf is the one sport where you can get 4 guys to take a walk in the park and talk. Don’t need to be competent. It’s good for egos as everyone is one swing from humiliation at all times.

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Thank you for all the information. My husband and I have an analog recording console business. He told me a bit about Bing's role in audio. We were on highway 101, leaving my mom's Burlingame home, blocks away from Hilsborough, when we passed the Ampex sign, and he told me the history. That was a few years ago.

My friend went to school with Bing's son. I always wondered why the Crosby's lived in the Bay Area.

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And now, to channel radio's Gabriel Heater: "Here's the REST of the story!" The name "AMPEX" derives from the name Alexander M. Poniatoff (founder of Ampex) plus "EXcellence."

Because Crosby was an avid golfer, he would rather indulge in that pastime, rather than participate in yet another "live" performance to satisfy various time zones in USA. Therefore, Der Bingel's need for a good recording medium. (Uh, how many people remember Gabriel Heater?!!!!)

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W.R. Dunn already wrote the first thing that popped into my head. Maybe Bing had something that's hard to buy in a store- enough? None of us know how we'd react to riches and/or fame- we only think we do. I don't give a fuck about golf, but 50 million (today's dollars, not in Bing's day) would more than suffice. Tennis and skiing are more my thing, I think golf is a rather stupid game actually.

And Stephen Power comments on something we all should know. If Ted's going to write umpteen paragraphs glorifying the guy, at least one short one should have addressed that sordid aspect. News to me. I'm not saying boycott or anything I feel that's a rather steep slippery slope. But folks should know. Nobody's perfect, but some are less perfect than others. Never hurts to learn that, a variation of careful what you wish for. You just might be the dog that finally catches the car.

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Ted - Love this article. Many of the companies and locations are familiar to me having grown up in San Carlos. Did not know that was the original home of Ampex. By the time I came along, it was located a little further south, maybe Redwood City?

One quibble worth nothing: maybe it’s different today, but growing up in the area in the 70’s and 80’s, we didn’t think of Hillsborough as being in Silicon Valley. We thought of it as starting in Palo Alto, which is in Santa Clara County and where most of the key early firms were located (Lockheed, HP, Fairchild, etc.)

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. But with a little extra time during the holiday, it’s fun to nitpick.

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This is another brilliant entry by Ted Gioia on his Substack site. It's an unbeatable combination of great research, insight, and writing style. Bravissimo, Ted!

Let me add the following on Bing Crosby:

In 2001 esteemed jazz critic Gary Giddins published BING CROSBY: A POCKETFUL OF DREAMS—THE EARLY YEARS, 1903-1940, the first volume of a planned three-volume biography of Bing Crosby (1903-1977). It was 17 years before Giddins published his second volume, BING CROSBY: SWINGING ON A STAR—THE WAR YEARS, 1940-1946. The third (and ostensibly last) volume is still to come. Gary Giddins has already spent a quarter century (and counting) in writing about Bing Crosby’s life and legacy. This planned three-volume biography would likely become, by default if nothing else, Giddins’s most impressive achievement. Of course, I heartily recommend ALL his books on music, as I do ALL the books on music written by equally esteemed critic Ted Gioia. Too much of a good thing is never enough!


The link above is to Bing Crosby’s original single of “White Christmas,” composed by Irving Berlin in 1942 for the film HOLIDAY INN. That year the song was released as a 78-rpm record by Decca, with Crosby singing lead—and whistling—to the accompaniment of the Ken Darby Singers and John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra. This particular recording proved to be a huge sentimental favorite during the remaining war years (up to 1945). The song itself has endured in popularity to this day.

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wonderful post with lots of information. was new to me, but I had heard years ago Crosby say that he learned phrasing from Louis Armstrong.

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Ted, your posting on Bing Crosby is more than a little cool.

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A delightful slice of new to me history.

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Another great post Ted. This week we are recording our Christmas podcast featuring artists from this era. These songs typify the long lost spirit of these times.

Much love and happy Christmas and I mean Christmas: not holidays, xmas, yuletide or any other politically correct term.

Suzy and I are not at all religious, but the fantasy generated by this special time is inexorably linked with the story of a virgin birth.

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I truly do enjoy your articles!

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Great article!

Bing Crosby is so low key on his business side, it's really hard to figure out all the details. Here are something I discovered over the years and would like to share.

It's commonly believed that Bing Crosby resorted to recording because he was tired of the rigid schedule of weekly live shows and wanted to play golf. However, there is another side, claiming Bing Crosby wanted to have more control over his program: "While prerecording would afford him a more flexible schedule, in reality, Crosby simply wanted greater control over the timing and quality of his program." Actually Bing Crosby wanted his own production company, Bing Crosby Enterprises, to produce the show.

Only the new network, ABC, and a new sposore, Philco, willing to accommodate Bing's request, paying him $30K per week.

The first recorded program was aired on October 16, 1946. You can listen to it here:


Bing Crosby used 16in 33 1/3 Vinyl to do the recording and remix. The quality is not desirable. The recording neeed multiple playback/re-recording, each time the sound quality dropped. According to this article, about 40 disks used for each program:


So a year later, Bing Crosby Enterprises picked Jack Mullin's Magnetophon over Ranger's tape recorder, at a showdown held on the evening of 10 August 1947, the premier of 47-48 season. According to Jack Mullin, they recorded the 30-min live show, and do the editing on site: "When I taped that first broadcast, they asked me to stay right there afterthe show and edit the tape, to see if I could make a program out of it. I did, and they seemed to like what they heard."


There are some fasinating details on how the shows was made.

Bing Crosby Enterprises gave Jack Mullin the contract for the next 26 shows of the 47-48 season, under one condition, he must ensure, there will soon be a quality replacement of his Magnetophon, since he only had two machines and limited AGFA tapes.

The first taped show was broadcasted as Oct 1. Since nobody, including Jack Mullin, trust the tape, the edited program was transferred back to 16in disk before broadcast. You can hear it here:


On that same day, Ampex brought a prototype Ampex Model 200A for demonstration. Due to some technical issue, the prototype can no longer recording but only playing. Luckily ABC simply gave Ampex the tape of Bing Crosby's show and ask Ampex to replay it. The demo was a success, and Bing Crosby placed the order.

One small detail, according to Harold Lindsay, Bing Crobsy asked for West Coast distribution rights first, then, out of no where, immediately placed the first order with 60% down payment.

One final comment, venture capital did play a role in Ampex's success.

In 1948, the co-founder of Tim Moseley left Ampex, sold his half of ownership to venture capitalists Joseph and Henry McMicking and their Ayala Associates.

How Ayala Associates was involved?

In 1955, Ross Snyder invented the Sel-Sync. They plan to make a prototype, and finally decided to build an eight-track machine. Most commercial recordings use only 3 tracks, at most 4. No client asked for eight-track. They simply want to show the best Ampex can do, w/o compromising the quality.

Before doing so, Robert Englehart actually asked the comptroller, if it's worthwhile to pursue such a high idea, even if it will interfere with their normal business. The controller was actually assigned by Ayala Associates. His replied: "Get it done. This is a capital gains corporation, profit is less important. That machines's prestige will help the stock"

And then there is the Octopus. Ampex send trial invitation to 12 artists, nobody except Les Paul accepted. And we knew what happened.

You can find Ross Snyder's recollection on Sys-Sync here:


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