Semi Joseph Begun (1905–1995) was born in what is now Poland. He received his PhD in Germany in 1933, immigrated to the United States in 1935, and joined the Brush Development Co. in Cleveland in 1938.
Begun was a pioneer in magnetic sound recording, designing machines that recorded on wire during World War II.
In the late 1940s, he invented this office dictating machine called the “Mail-A-Voice.” Unlike reel-to-reel tape machines, the Mail-A-Voice recorded onto flat paper or plastic discs.
The disks could be folded and mailed in an ordinary business envelope. Begun used the recorder to send audio letters to his mother.
In February 1946, a Brush Company publication heralded the introduction of recording technology for the home market. “Dr. S. J. Begun, in charge of most of the magnetic recording development work at Brush, explained that with the development of the paper tape medium and the high fidelity Brush Home Recorder, it is now possible for the first time for the average person to make home recordings of completely satisfactory fidelity and with no more skill than is required to switch on a radio or a vacuum cleaner.” (Brush Developments, February 1946, 1, 91, box 4, folder 10a, S. Joseph Begun Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History)
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Explore the S. Joseph Begun Papers at the Archives Center, National Museum of American History