World’s First Wireless Mic – The Shure Vagabond

Here’s a little history for you. Did you know that the first practical wireless microphone for performers was the Shure Vagabond 88? First introduced in the 1950’s, the Vagabond was powered by two hearing aid batteries, and could transmit within a ‘performance circle’ of approximately 700 square feet. The name ‘Vagabond’ was chosen because ‘… it is a microphone that makes the entertainer foot-loose and fancy-free.’

The Vagabond mic/transmitter operated in the 2 MHz FM band, weighed one pound, was 1.4 inches in diameter and 12 inches in length. It had five subminiature vacuum tubes and worked for 25 to 30 hours on its batteries.

Check out this clipped section from the actual Shure catalogue, circa 1955 for a glimpse of this historical mic.

shure-vagabond

Pretty cool huh? Here’s how it reads…

The Vagabond “88” is the first practical wireless microphone system ever developed – no cables! …no body wiring! …no station license needed! The “88” is a complete wireless microphone system that can be used with the existing public-address equipment of any night club, auditorium, church, theater, athletic stadium, etc. The Vagabond “88” is recommended for clergymen, businessmen, entertainers, educators, and sports announcers, who need freedom of movement within an operating area of 500 to 1,000 square feet.

Finally, check out this amazing rare photograph kindly provided by the Shure archive team of the Vagabond in use, circa 1950’s. The Vagabond is a little piece of pro audio history, and arguably one of the most significant. As the world’s first wireless mic, it helped set the wheels in motion for arriving at the polished production values we all value today.

 

Could Your Mobile Be Eating Your Mic?

As a Pioneer in wireless microphone technology, we care passionately about the future of wireless. So much so, that we recently launched a new website to help raise awareness of some recent changes that pose a threat to the reliable operation of wireless microphones in the UK and across the globe. In essence, the on-going expansion of mobile broadband services and a growing demand for wireless devices in general has presented new challenges to wireless microphone users. Head on over to LosingYourVoice.co.uk and get a crash course on what you need to know to prevent interference at your next show and how you can help secure the future of wireless mics for future generations. Don’t let them take away your voice!

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Marc Henshall

Marc forms part of our Pro Audio team at Shure UK and specialises in Digital Marketing. He also holds a BSc First Class Hons Degree in Music Technology. When not at work he enjoys playing the guitar, producing music, and dabbling in DIY (preferably with a good craft beer or two).

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