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Dictaphone 1620

The Dictaphone 1620
Photo Courtesy Takaharu Yoshida

The Dictaphone 1620 was actually manufactured in Japan by Sanyo for Dictaphone. In the late 1960's, Dictaphone, famous for its dictation machines, wanted to diversify its business into other areas of office automation. The company looked to Japanese manufacturer Sanyo to manufacture electronic calculators for sale under the Dictaphone badge. Sanyo had developed a line of electronic calculators based on small-scale integrated circuit logic, and these machines seemed a perfect fit for Dictaphone's marketing needs. At the time, Sanyo had not yet established a firm marketing, sales, and support presence in North America. Dictaphone had a large network of sales and service operations in North America, thus creating a new and eager market for Sanyo's calculators in the North American marketplace.

The 1620 is identical (save cabinet and keyboard color schemes) to Sanyo's ICC-162. Along with the 1620, it is known that Dictaphone marketed at least one other machine in this generation of Sanyo calculators, the model 1420. The 1420 was a 14-digit machine versus the 16-digit capacity of the 1620. There may have been other Dictaphone-badged machines from this generation, but the model numbers aren't known at this time. Sanyo marketed the ICC-121 (12-digit, 1 memory), and the ICC-141 (14-digit, 1 memory), and it's certainly possible that Dictaphone marketed versions of these machines.

This generation of Sanyo's calculators appears to have been introduced in the late '68 to early '69 timeframe, and were marketed into the early 1970's, initially in Asia, then Europe, but later, Sanyo established it's own sales/support presence in North America, and started selling their machines in seemingly direct competition to Dictaphone.

These machines shared a common general design, with unique incandescent seven-segment display modules. The machines utilize early small-scale MOS integrated circuits. The 1620 has a capacity of 16 digits with fixed decimal selections (via a slide switch situated under the display, very similar to the decimal point selection method used in Sony's early SOBAX calculators) between 15 and 0 digits behind the decimal. The machine provides the four standard math functions, along with one-key square root and percent functions. Two accumulating memory registers are provided, with functions available for automatic sum-of-products.