Transcriptors was founded in 1960 by Coventry born engineer/designer David Gammon along with his brother Anthony as secretary. Many will be familiar with our turntables, which have been widely used in numerous television commercials, and in many films, including the classic A Clockwork Orange (1972) and The Look Of Love (2013) both that featured his classic 1964 hydraulic reference turntable. The Skeleton turntable was also used in X-Men – First Class (2011) and the Transcriber in Creepshow (1982)
Employed by Almer Components as chief engineer he designed the Transcriptors arm along with the sweep arm and stylus brush. These designs were born due to the lack of professional devices that were manufactured by various audio companies. It was his friend Brian Allan (who was an architect) who suggested to David that they should take some photographs and send them to Hi-Fi News as a joke not thinking they would get published. He was amazed to find in their next issue that the pictures had been published. David started producing the Transcriptor Arm and the accessories part-time in his flat, and in early 1963 he designed his first turntable, the Reference. While working at Almer Components, they offered him two rooms for thirty pounds a week situated above the Almer Components premises.
After moving to the new factory he was now in a position to increase turntable production. A year later this resulted in his next design, the Saturn. The table was produced alongside the Hydraulic turntable. In 1969 the late Stanley Kubrick visited David at his Borehamwood factory and asked him if he could purchase a Hydraulic Reference to use in his latest film project. He let Stanley have the turntable. The turntable made its appearance in the bedroom and hospital scene of the 1971 classic, A Clockwork Orange which starred the much acclaimed actor Malcolm McDowell. Various turntable parts were also used in another Stanley Kubrick production, 2001 A Space Odyssey. Other designs included display turntables for various department stores.
In 1971, David received an invitation from the London Design Center, to collect a design award for the Hydraulic Reference turntable. He received his award from the late HRH Princess Margaret at a lavish presentation evening. David was also present at many social events, which included hi-fi shows all over the world, including parties hosted by the Queen. Some of the last Hydraulic Reference turntables carry the design award logo which is located bottom left on the acrylic lid. He also received many other awards from all over the world, Japan and the former state of Yugoslavia.
Towards the end of 1973 the Irish government offered a purpose-built factory which was ten times the size of the Borehamwood factory, and could manufacture all components in-house without the need to sub-contact work to other companies. This combination would also allow him to take turntable design even further. Relocating to Carlow, Ireland David sent his chief engineer Keith Weightmen to set up the factory ready to carry on production of the Saturn until the middle of 1973. Due mainly to the oil shortage and the large cost of using acrylic as a material to manufacture turntables, he turned to glass.
- Stylus Scales (1960 – Present)
- Stylus Brush (1960 – Present)
- Sweep Arm (1960 – Present)
- Saturn Damping Pot (1968 – 1969)
- Transcriptor Arm (1960 – 1963)
- Transcriptor Fluid Arm (1964 – Present)
- Transcriptors Saturn Arm (1968 – 1973)
- Transcriptors Vestigal Arm (1973 – 1977)
Manufacturing Facilities/Offices |
- Bloomburys Way, London, England (1960)
- West Hampstead, London, England (1960 – 1966)
- 511 Holloway Road, N19, Archway 6419, London, England (1966 – 1967)
- 2 Theobald Street, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England (1967 – 1973)
- Carlow Industrial Estate, Carlow, Ireland (1973 – 1981)
- 350th West 58th Street, New York, 10019 USA (1974 – 1975)
- 509 5th Avenue, New York, 10017 (1974 – 1975)
- Peak District, Derbyshire, England (Present)
In the sixties, John Michell ran a small engineering business next to Transcriptors carrying out various contracts including work for the film industry. In the early days of Transcriptors, David contracted work to various engineering companies including Michell as he had no machine shop at the Borehamwood factory.
- John Michell contracted as a ‘sub-contractor’ to produce components
- Purchases Groatrealm Limited on the 25/01/1973
- David Gammon and John Michell sign the ‘Technical Agreement’
- John Michell changes Groatrealm Limited to J A Michell Engineering on 09/04/1973
- Transcriptors relocates to Carlow, Ireland
- The Hydraulic Reference turntable is manufactured under license between 04/1973 until 11/1977