"Cart Machines" played endless-loop tape cartridges, which were historically used to hold commercials, jingles, and announcements. Audio was recorded in mono or stereo (on one or two tracks), and 1 KHz cue tones (which told the playback deck when to stop) were recorded on a separate track.
The tape format was introduced to the National Association of Broadcasters by Collins Radio in 1959. In that same year, Broadcast Electronics introduced one of the first mono cart machines, the Spotmaster. Since that time, manufacturers added stereo capability, additional secondary and tertiary cueing tones and even digital timers. Many playback decks provided relay closure outputs that were activated in response to detection of the secondary and tertiary tones (at 150 Hz and 8 KHz, respectively). Most production studios also had bulk erasers and splice finders to go along with their cart recorders.
Major manufacturers of cart machines included International Tapetronics Corporation (ITC), Fidelipac, Audicord, Ampro, and Gates/Harris. These days there are very few cart machines still manufactured, as a large number of stations have converted to digital technology. CartChunk is one of the latest digital formats, combining a standardized labeling information format with the .WAV file format.
Click here to read an interesting article by Roy Pressman about cart machines.
I'm interested in collecting information about the companies that used to make these fantastically rugged machines, so any info that you could pass along to me would be appreciated.
Here are some shots of a few classic cart machines.
Spotmaster 500B - one of the first
Audicord E50R - a classic
A newer AudiCord DL-series machine
Fidelipac Dynamax machines
ITC was purchased by DRS Technologies around 1996. DRS manufactured and supported the Delta series machines and other lines for a number of years, but has since discontinued them. If you've got ITC cart machines (or parts) that you'd like to sell, please drop me a line.
According to one representative of DRS, the ITC family was sold to Sequoia Electronics, now defunct. We understand that CartGuys now handle service and support of ITC products as well as Fidelipac products. (We wish them well in their endeavors.)
Click a link below for specs on the ITC lines.
Here are some places that you can still get new carts and cart machines
Some other folks that have used cart machines, parts, and/or do cart machine