For a short period, we are publishing some information from our archives of Data Recording.

This covers periods including our time at SE Labs(EMI) Ltd, Thorn EMI Datatech and Penny and Giles Data Systems, all now defunct.

These archives relate to Instrumentation Data Recording, centred around the Electronics Companies based In Wells, Somerset, at one time belonging to the EMI company.

These companies were very important employers in the area and led to many spin-offs and resulting high-tech companies. Sadly for the area, almost none of these now exist, and high technology is no longer a feature of Somerset.

The products mentioned were extant across most of the company names above, as the organisation was sold and re-sold.

Instrumentation Tape Recorders encompassed technology at its edge, so there are many firsts – switched mode power supplies, brushless dc motors, symbol-based digital encoding, dsp-based servos and many more. This together with precision manufacture only found in aerospace made for really interesting technology.

Penny and Giles Data Systems Brochures

SE7000 Instrumentation Tape recorder





Penny and Giles Data Systems Brochure



Multiband Data RecorderMultiband Data Recorder

MDR Specification





Sirius Data Recorder  – containing the first brushless DC motor servo system

Pegasus Data Cassette Recorder

Thorn EMI Datatech

A ThornEMI Datatech paper, presented to the European Telemetry Conference in 1987. “High Density Digital Recorders in Ground Stations

A glossy Capability brochure from 1986

Applications Brochures 1986

Data Recording March 86

Data Recording May 86

Data Recording August 86

Inseight Bulletins were quasi-technical applications info, designed as marketing material for the range of products made by SE Labs/Thorn EMI Datatech. Although listed under SE Labs and Thorn EMI Datatech separately, they are part of a sequence and were probably just reprinted when the name changed.

Inseight Bulletin No. 2

Inseight Bulletin No. 3

Inseight Bulletin No. 8

Inseight Bulletin No. 9

This Space magazine reprint from 1988 give a good background into the satellite recording activities.

SE Labs (EMI) Ltd

SE Labs was an important employer in Wells, here is a 10th anniversary tribute, published in 1978. Some of the people mentioned- Alan Robson, Mike Perry, Robin Wilcox, Malcolm Jones, John Doyle, Stella Woods, Hazel Bailey, Maisie Ashman and many more.

A page from the EMI News of 1978


Pages 2 and 3 of the 10th Anniversary feature.


Inseight Bulletins

Inseight Bulletin No. 1

Inseight Bulletin No. 5

Inseight Bulletin No. 6


The development of multi-track magnetic recording was of particular interest to GCHQ. EMI Electronics was frequently tasked to advance the art, creating techniques and equipment that eventually found its way to the commercial sphere. This from 1963.

GCHQ Tasking Contract

Multi-track Magnetic Recording Heads

Prototype Multi-track recording Heads


Circuit schematic – Early use of (Germanium) Transistors

The original S.E. Labs(EMI) team at Wells was led by Managing Director Mike A. Perry, with Engineering Manager Geoffrey C. Nottley, assisted by Harry M. Harrison. The notable team of Engineering talent behind these products included Alan R. Robson, Len Barratt, L.E. (Ted) Lickiss, W.A. (Bill) Vigar and Les Kirbey all recruited from the main EMI facility. A number of businesses spun out of this original business, including Avalon Electronics, M5 Data, Somerdata and Phi Labs, all engaged in some form of data recording.

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