This is the first Chamberlin/Mellotron patent, and it somewhat
resembles a Mellotron-like device. There are tapes, heads, a
long capstain, multiple tracks, multiple "stations" or sections on
the tape, and a primitive mechanism to shuttle the tape between
Some things to note:
The capstain is in the front of the unit instead of the rear
like production Mellotrons, and the tape runs toward the player
instead of away.
There's a switch on each key to switch the tape head in and
out of the circuit, presumably as an attempt at noise
During playback, after the tape goes by the tape head, the tape
wraps around a wheel and tension on the tape is held by the
wheel dropping down a slot.
There's a brake mechanism to insert drops into the playback
The motor drives the capstain with a friction roller drive; the
motor shaft extends out with a roller on the end, the roller
spins against the side of the flywheel, which is at the end of
the capstain roller.
The rewind mechanism is a pulley mounted on a large C-shaped
To shuttle the tape between stations you use this little
lever. Push the lever one way and the takeup drum spins,
push the lever the other way and the supply drum spins.
There's a marker on the tape at the beginning of each new
section and you have to work this lever back and forth until
you're in position.
There's some insanity in this patent. For one thing, it was
filed 16 October 1953, but the patent wasn't issued until almost
seven years later. That's a long time. So long that
Harry Chamberlin's next patent, a set of improvements to this one,
was issued before this one and so has an earlier patent
number.(!!!) So that's pretty confusing.
The drawings in the patent look absolutely nothing like a keyboard
instrument. Unless you're a major Mellotron fan, you'd
probably mistake the drawings for a cotten gin or something.
The text in the patent itself is written... well... here's a sample:
As further shown in Fig. 2, each tape extends rightwardly from
its idler 20, as indicated at 22 through a
guide 23, across the upper surface of a driving
roller 24 as shown at 25 over a guide
bar 26 and then over a suppporting plate 27 which
is curved around the upper righthand portion of the spool
means 11, downwardly as indicated at 28 and under
a small floating puller 29, as indicated at 30, to
a channel 12 in the spool means 11, in which the
rightward end of the tape is wound.
(Ah, where have the great writers gone? Yeah, I'm reading
through pages of this.)