Triplecorder didn’t have a dynamic sound but it sure looked pretty.

The Answer ATR-102 triple corder. Photo: Georges Meguerditchian

There was a time when a device that had more than one function was something to behold.

It took a real feat of engineering to make a machine that could do several things without taking up a good chunk of your living room.

I don’t know if the Answer ATR-102 Triplecorder can be considered such a marvel of technology, but it is awfully cool to look at.

The phonograph feature on the Answer ATR-102 triple corder. Photo: Vintage Technics

Manufactured in Tokyo in the 1960s, the Triplecorder was a battery-powered transistor radio, reel-to-reel tape recorder and turntable, all in a relatively portable, circular metal casing that weighed just over 3 pounds.

Triplecorders occasionally come up for bid on eBay, fetching a few hundred dollars if all the components and the original box are with the unit. But the internet offers few clues as to how many Triplecorders were originally sold. Nor will you find much about the device’s performance, the history of Answer or whether the Triplecorder evolved into another stereo/recording product.

The words “Three Purposes” appeared in yellow on the Triplecorder’s box. The operator’s manual is online but there aren’t many examples of advertising promoting the gadget.

Russian website Vintage Technics, which offers fairly complete profiles of vintage audio, video and television equipment, delivers a description of the Answer ATR-102, along with specs and pictures showing various stages of deconstruction.

The Triplecorder was powered by three D batteries and had an adapter that mounts to one of the reels to play 45s. There was a removable tone arm for the phonograph function and the unit also came with a microphone and pop-on antenna for the AM radio. A leather carrying case boasted room for an operator to store records.

When people older than you say vinyl sounds better, they are not talking about records played on the Triplecorder. Listen for yourself on the YouTube videos below.

“Workmanship and appearance of the unit are good, original design makes a good impression,” the nameless Vintage Technics collector writes about the device. ‘Of course it’s not Hi-Fi, but it’s a toy and works well.”

If you have insight into the Triplecorder’s seemingly brief history, please share in the comment section below.

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