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
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