This is the Spot Tape (Cart Machine) Section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer
Last Update 4/14/09

The PR&E Tomcat and Micromax

Mike Dosch recalls: "The Tomcat (Theory Optimized Microprocessor Controlled Audio Transport) was conceived by Jack Williams and designed by Jack, Jeff Nelson and Randy Gill. Tomcat was full off innovations:

The machine was incredibly expensive to produce and we sold about 3,000 machines total over about 15 years."

The PR&E Tomcat


Again, Mike Dosch: "The Micromax was a licensed design from Sonifex in the UK. It was supposed to be a simple repackaging job to give it the PR&E branding, but turned into a much more costly and complicated project. 

The very first machines were delivered to WABC in New York. They failed. It turned out that in the UK, carts were used for spots only, not music. The motor drive circuitry expected to work for 30 or 60 seconds before getting a chance to cool off. The 3-5 minute music carts proved too much. And apparently, the guys working on the project at PR&E never checked that out. Jack was pretty mad. Some reorganization occurred and I joined PR&E just at that time.

By the time it was finished, over several years multiple iterations of the machine, we had redesigned pretty much everything: audio, logic, mechanics, frame, guide system, even the bloody belt. Jim Tonne did some of the player audio and servo circuitry. Robin Thomas did the player logic. I did the recorder logic and audio. Jack redesigned the transport mechanics, and Larry Stanton redesigned the belt and improved upon Jim's servo circuitry. 

When it was finally complete, it was really quite a beautiful machine. But we would have saved a lot of time and treasure had we just designed it from scratch.

Micromax sold perhaps 5,000 machines total over 10 years. I much preferred console design!"

The PR&E Micromax