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History of the manufacturer  

Gray Manufacturing Co., Inc. Hartford, CT

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Name: Gray Manufacturing Co., Inc. Hartford, CT    (USA)  
Abbreviation: gray
Products: Model types

Gray Manufacturing Co., Inc. Hartford, CT.

Manufacturer of Pay telephones, dictation machines, answering machines, turntables and tonearms.

Founded: 1891
Closed: 1976
Production: - 1976

This Hartford, Connecticut based company was originally known as the Gray Telephone Pay Station Company. The name was changed to the Gray Manufacturing Company on February 19, 1939. The company eventually went bankrupt on September 14, 1976. The Gray Manufacturing Company made the Audograph (a dictation machine) after World War II. It recorded on thin vinyl discs. One interesting technical feature of the Audograph was its ability to vary the disc's rotational speed continuously, depending on the location of the recording/playback stylus. By spinning the disc faster when the stylus was in the outer grooves, the machine allegedly made better recordings. A Gray Audograph played in important part in the investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. On the day of the assassination the Dallas Police Department (DPD) operated two radio channels. Channel I was for normal police radio traffic and channel II was assigned for the use of the presidential motorcade. Each channel was recorded by a different device. Channel I was recorded on a Dictabelt and channel II on a Gray Audograph. Both machines worked by engraving a track into a plastic medium. The Dictabelt used a rotating cylinder and the Audograph used a flat disk, similar to a phonograph record. Both machines were transmission actuated. The recordings were poured over for years, but never served to provide any additional information to identify the number of shots fired that fateful day.

The PhonAudograph was a dictation machine manufactured by the Gray Manufacturing Company, the same Hartford, Connecticut business that was known as The Gray Telephone Pay Station Company prior to 1939. The Gray Telephone Pay Station Company was a proud and storied outfit. Their founder, William Gray, secured a patent on his innovative pay phone mechanism in 1889, a design that proved highly successful. In 1905 Gray filed suit against several companies that had been infringing on the patent, including Western Electric. The patent was upheld, the end result of which was a profitable joint manufacturing agreement between Gray Telephone Mfg. and Western Electric that spanned from 1909 until 1934, when the agreement expired. It is said that the company eventually sold to Automatic Electric, but when that took place, or if in fact such a sale occurred at all, isn't clear. In 1945 Gray introduced a sound-actuated dictation machine called the Audograph. The machine, which recorded onto thin vinyl disks, was moderately popular, but might have been forgotten had one not been used by the Dallas Police Department on November 22nd 1963. For better or worse, the machine found a place in history by capturing the audio from the Kennedy assassination. 
Having been used specifically to record the police motorcade frequency, it was hoped that the Audograph disk could help establish the number of gunshots and was studied extensively. Unfortunately no significant evidence could be gleaned from the recording produced by the well-worn machine. So that's the Audograph. But where does the PhonAudograph fit in? The PhonAudograph was sold simultaneously with the Audograph, which would indicate that they were intended to target a different use or price range. Advertisements would seem to indicate that a conventional Audograph machine does the work, with the "telephone" used to actuate recording and playback remotely. It is interesting to note that the earlier model of the PhonAudograph shown here is based on a Western Electric Model 302 shell (or a very close facsimile thereof), and the later "PhonAudograph III" built on the Connecticut Telephone & Electric body. The switch to the Connecticut body occurred in the mid-50's, at which time both the retiring 302 body and new Connecticut body had styling that could best be described as "tired". The reason for the change isn't known, and might simply have been a logical way to shorten the supply-line distance. I have no knowledge of Connecticut Telephone's history, but I guess it's also possible that the company was purchased by Gray. In any event, Gray, and their PhonAudograph, sailed off into the sunset (went bankrupt) in 1976.
In 1887, a man had a desperate need for the use of a phone, and one could not be found. This need lead to an idea and on April 5 1888, William Gray filed the first of 23 paystation patents. This patent lead to the founding of the Gray Telephone Pay Station Company in 1891. At first the new product did not win the demand Gray had hoped for. Gray decided to sell this new idea to three important institutions: the telephone companies, hotel and store owners, and the general public. Gray was able to convince the telephone companies that they were losing money by not having his product, since the consumer would just find another way to communicate. William Gray and the Pay Telephone From 1888 to 1902 Gray filed 23 patents for pay telephones with a slot for coins. In 1891, the Gray Telephone Pay Station Company was formed. The pay phone drove the telephone industry and helped create demand for household telephones. Use of telephones in World War II created consumer expectation and demand for telephones in every home. Today 95% of households have telephones (98% have televisions). The spread of pay phones grew as the Interstate Highway System extended across the country -- as people traveled more, the need for access to telephone service became a necessity in the event of trouble on the roads. In 1910 Western Electric and Gray Manufacturing joined forces and produced the first "50A series coin collector". This basic design was so reliable and practical that it remained in production for 60 years. It was modified and upgraded numerous times.

This manufacturer was suggested by Mark Donen.

Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
USA  52 Viscous Damped Tonearm 108-B   Iconic tonearm of the 1950s used on broadcast and high quality domestic disk playback syst... 
USA  49 Audograph Dictation Machine 12AX7  The reading of the disc runs from the centre outwards (constant linear velocity) at 45 rpm... 
USA  55 Audograph V   Gray Audograph V; Disc record dictating machine. 


Further details for this manufacturer by the members (rmfiorg):

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