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September 22, 2020 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Before there were CDs, podcasts, or streaming music, older millennials had: the Fisher Price tape recorder. And it came with a delightful tape that taught you how to make sound effects with cellophane, record family birthday parties, and sing a bizarre version of On Top of Old Smokey.
posted by Synesthesia (25 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Older millennials had the brightly coloured tape recorder. Late Gen-X had the tasteful brown-and-dark-brown station wagon colour scheme one, this explains a lot.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:56 PM on September 22, 2020 [13 favorites]


Oh no what have you done

#teambrown
posted by emelenjr at 2:02 PM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]


Bah. The Fisher Price record player was better.
posted by Melismata at 2:22 PM on September 22, 2020 [14 favorites]


I like to bike

I'd like a pony

But what I'd love is My First Sony
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:33 PM on September 22, 2020 [5 favorites]


We had one of these (the brown/tan one) when I was kid. Until I lost it, possibly by leaving it at my friend's across the street right before they moved away.

I have always been, and am still, a person who loses items really easily. I've always felt a lot of guilt about it. This taperecorder is the very first item I remember having and then losing. I think I looked for that thing literally years after I last saw it and I still feel a little guilty about losing it whenever I remember.

So, um, thanks for letting me see one again, I guess?
posted by nat at 3:00 PM on September 22, 2020 [3 favorites]


We had a FP wind up "radio" that played Raindrops Are Falling My Head. I did have a portable reel to reel, which, in hindsight, I wish I still had.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:10 PM on September 22, 2020


I wonder if Techmoan's managed to get his hands on one. I'd love to see a teardown and a review of the tape mechanism.
posted by wanderingmind at 3:20 PM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]


I had the brown one as a kid (and now I have the bright-colored one because I found one at Goodwill and bought it on a whim). As a wee child, I spent hours recording my own audiobooks with it. I may still have the cassette tape of The Jungle Book that I painstakingly read into that microphone.

(Tiny!me was a big fan of both Kipling and audiobooks, and my library only had the audiobook of The Second Jungle Book. This was clearly unacceptable - and, in retrospect, really weird - and needed to be rectified.)
posted by darchildre at 3:45 PM on September 22, 2020 [4 favorites]


On top of spagheeeeeeeeeettiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
posted by Night_owl at 3:53 PM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]


I’ve got the brown one that presumably belonged to my older sister. I had no idea there was a tape that came with it. I just used it to listen to red cassette Disney books on tape and a Christmas story that featured a little boy who sounded like Gilbert Gottfried in my mind.
posted by dr_dank at 4:42 PM on September 22, 2020


I had a brown one and my brother and I spent hours and hours listening to things on it, and recording our own things. Over. And Over. And Over.

Such great memories!
posted by sablazo at 5:43 PM on September 22, 2020


I had the brown one.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:52 PM on September 22, 2020


I love this so much. I had the brown one and bought a used one off of eBay for my own kids when they were 5 and 6.

This tape taught me "without any further ado..." and man did it up my announcing game as a kid.
posted by AgentRocket at 6:12 PM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]


OMG. I got the brown one for Christmas when I was 8 (1984), additionally with Lionel Richie’s “Can’t Slow Down” (whatever, Mom) and Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual.” I loved it.
posted by thivaia at 6:17 PM on September 22, 2020


FYI: Also had the brown Fisher Price record player from earliest memory (78? 79?). The cassette player disappeared but I took the record player to college freshman year, before I invested in a proper turntable of my own. I played countless indie/punk/thrift shop oddity 7”s on it and the whole idea of it is like the best kind of nostalgia. And in case i forget to mention: awesome post.
posted by thivaia at 6:23 PM on September 22, 2020 [5 favorites]


Bah. The Fisher Price record player was better.

Right on! Who doesn't love rocking out to Children's Marching Song (b/w Camptown Races) on their FP-995?
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:28 PM on September 22, 2020 [3 favorites]


We had one of these, but I'd completely forgotten about it until I saw the picture. It's such a deep memory that remembering it feels kind of eerie. Those big clunky buttons were hella satisfying to press.

But what I'd love is My First Sony

I could still remember a verse from that song, even before I clicked the link, but I had somehow blocked out the memory of just how incredibly tone deaf those kids were.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:36 PM on September 22, 2020


Team brown here too. And the record player, which never quite worked the same after being used as a potting wheel.

What's really amazing is that this device, with all the finciky small parts of the era's consumer electronics, could survive enough childhoods to gain iconic status. I can think of few devices in my life made of such robust plastics, with such responsive controls and general reliability. If techmoan doesn't do a break-down, I'd like to see one from AvE.

My daughter is a teenager now, and basically all the devices in her life have been solid state. A different era.
posted by St. Oops at 9:36 PM on September 22, 2020 [2 favorites]


I'm so sad they don't make this any more. Tapes are the best way for kids to play with sound recording, and recording their own voice.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:45 AM on September 23, 2020


And it came with a delightful tape that taught you how to make sound effects with cellophane

I may just be going senile, but these days, every time I use our pepper mill, I can hear Are You Experienced.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 6:50 AM on September 23, 2020


If I had a kid I would get them a manual tape deck before I got them an iPad I tell ya what! Didn’t have one of these but had what google tells me is a Radio Shack kids tape recorder. It was built into a briefcase and the microphone was a strawberry. Me and my friends spent hours and hours recording ourselves doing “radio”. The downside of having uninvolved parents I guess is that there’s probably none of those tapes around.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 8:31 AM on September 23, 2020 [4 favorites]


I grew up with this fisher price karaoke radio. We left it out in the backyard for the entirety of a snowy winter, and it was working when we brought it in the next spring - we didn't even change the batteries. My parents are still using it 30-40 years later.
posted by taltalim at 12:49 PM on September 23, 2020


I got in so much trouble when my parents discovered I was playing their big band records on the FP record player. In my defense, I couldn't reach the real turntable!
posted by usedsongs at 3:40 AM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]


Oh man I missed this post!

Somebody broke into our house in '87 or so, and they stole my brown FP player (among other things). I was just old enough to think that children's tapes were for babies but not old enough to realize that putting this tape player on my shoulders like a boombox and playing Jem tapes did not make me cool. I think I was more unhappy about losing the Jem tape inside the player than about losing the player itself.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:25 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]


We had one of these, but I'd completely forgotten about it until I saw the picture.

Same here, but now the memories are flooding back #teambrown #stillamillennial!

We got music on our tapes in the UK instead of the radio show. Apparently all these songs are still seared into my brain several decades later, probably thanks to their amazingly 80s guitar/synth arrangements.
posted by emtanner at 3:15 PM on September 24, 2020


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