The Webster-Chicago Story

Webster-Chicago Corporation of Chicago, Illinois, also later known as Webcor was once a leading manufacturerof business and consumer electronics spanning more than half a century from 1914 to the late 1960s.The product line included phonographs and recording equipment, public address systems, amplifiers, intercoms and power supply's.

In 1925 the first factory built radios in this country included B battery eliminators and power packs made by Webster-Chicago. In 1926 the company designed and produced amplification equipment that helped create some of the first talking motion pictures. Webster-Chicago went on to produce and manufacture amplification and phonograph equipment for entertainment, public address and also business intercom systems which were state of the art for the time. They offered a new method of inter-office communications in large scale applications such as factorys, office buildings, hospitals and schools.

Webster-Chicago Phonographs and Diskchangers were among the finest made and often incorporated by other leading manufacturers into some of the highest quality radio and phonograph combinations. The company introduced many different models and designs and led the industry in several innovations, including key contributions in pioneering the mutli-speed automatic Diskchangers that were famous for many years.

In 1945, Webster-Chicago became a licensee of the Armour Research Foundation and began manufacturing wire recorders,the first product being a version of the Armour "military" wire sound recorder which it sold to the U.S. Navy. The stainless steel wire media was perfect for military applications as it could withstand extreme temperature and climate variations in the field. After World War II came to an end, Webster-Chicago continued to produce wire recorders and introduced a whole new product line oriented toward the civilian market.

The Webster-Chicago brand was one of the top selling wire recorders ever made and the company specialized in models for both office dictation use and the private consumer market. The operation of the transport worked whereby a stainless steel wire with a diameter of .0036 inches traveled past a vertical motion recording head at an average of 24 inches a second. The units produced very lifelike sound quality, especially in some of the later high end models whereby the cabinet and amplification circuits were redesigned specifically for better frequency response. The production run lasted from about 1945 through the early 1950's.

In 1952 the company launched a new line of tape recorders and eventually discontinued its production of the modern wire recorder as the industry movement towards Hi-Fi was in it's initial stages. In that same year Webster-Chicago Corporation also decided to change its name to Webcor, a shortened and more streamlined name to take the company forward into the 1950s. The conversion of the name actually showed up on some of the product line that year. One example was the model 210 Tape Recorder in which the top head cover displayed the name Webcor and the bottom head cover displayed the name Webster-Chicago Electronic Memory.

The Model 210 was also the first tape recorder built for the consumer market with dual record/play heads and two balanced induction motors. This would allow for playing a tape in both directions without having to turn the reels over by hand and a single TV type control knob for ease of operation, huge selling points at that time. In 1953 the company also produced a matched 3 speaker series which began the company's endeavors into the Hi-FI arena. This development was also incorporated into the Webcor (Fonograph) product line as well.

Webcor continued to produce consumer electronics throughout the 1950s and into the later 1960s creating many innovations in Hi-Fi and Stereo. The company did have business problems in later years as the industry became more competitive and saturated with foreign and domestic electronics.

The greatest testament to the quality of Webster-Chicago products is the fact that so many are still working some five or six decades later and can be found for sale on many auction and vintage electronics sites. Whoever said "They just don't build them like they used to" must have meant Webster-Chicago.