Talking Tapes and Inkless Pen


In the early days, LP records work by having a needle tracing the microscopic grooves on the underside of a record. As the needle traces the contour, the vibration is amplified, broadcasting the music content. Later, CDs were developed in the same principle, but instead of a needle, an optical laser is used to read even finer grooves on the disc.

The red talking tape above works in a similar manner. According to the website selling it, it is:

A long thin plastic strip, about 60cm long. It doesn’t look like much, but it talks! Along the length of the strip is a pattern of fine ridges or lines. Run your thumb nail along the ridges, and the tape speaks. However the sound needs to be magnified, so that you can hear it. One method is to hold one end of the strip between your teeth. Then, when you run your nail along the strip you hear it talk, but no-one else does. Or you can stick one end of the strip to an inflated balloon or a paper cup using sticky tape. The balloon or cup acts as an amplifier, and you can then demonstrate it to anyone nearby. Never heard a balloon talk? You have now!

What do the tapes say? One says ‘Happy Birthday’ others say ‘Congratulations’ or ‘Have a Nice Day’. We have 5 different messages, and we supply 4 tapes of each message, making a pack of 20 Talking Tapes.

That sounds pretty amazing, as something that invokes an old familiar technique to create a new effect – however, I’d still have to hear it to believe it – I still can’t quite picture how this works or sounds.


There are other rather interesting articles of merchandise too – like the one above, an “inkless pen” – however seemingly contradictory that might seem.

The pens we sell are a modern version (and do not use silver). The solid metal ‘nib’ consists of a metal alloy, that leaves a mark on most types of paper. If you use the sort of paper typically used in printers and photocopiers, the pen leaves a mark that looks as if it was made by a pencil. However the line will not smudge, and cannot be rubbed out.

Since there is no ink, there is nothing to dry out, so the pen will work just as well in 25 years time as it does today. And of course it never needs sharpening!

For the quirky geek in you!

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