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The history of multitrack recording begins with Bing Crosbys gift of a commercially produced reel to reel tape recorder to an inventive guitarist named Les Paul.

There were earlier precedents such as Sidney Bechets 1941 song, Sheik of Araby, but the person credited with the invention of magnetic audiotape Multitrack recording was guitarist, composer and inventor Les Paul, who also contributed to the famous Gibson Les Paul model electric guitar for Gibson Guitar Corporation in the early 1950s.

Paul had been experimenting with overdubbing in the late 1940s and in 1947, Capitol Records released a record featuring Paul playing eight different parts on electric guitar. These recordings were made with wax discs; Paul would record a track onto a disc, and then record himself playing another part with the first.

Pauls invention of multitrack recording was made possible by a gift from his friend Bing Crosby  an Ampex Model 200, the worlds first commercially produced reel to reel tape recorder. These machines were based on modified German Magnetophon recorders which had been acquired by audio engineer Jack Mullin while he was serving in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in the closing days of World War II. Mullin had studied and modified the recorders, hoping to sell the system to the Hollywood movie studios as a new means of recording movie soundtracks.

After hearing a demonstration of Mullins tape recorders in June 1947, Crosby became a major backer of the new technology  he hired Mullin as his chief engineer and immediately invested US$50,000 in the electronics firm Ampex so that the company could develop a commercial version of Mullins machines. Crosby became the first performer in the world to pre record radio broadcasts and master his commercial music recordings on tape.

In 1948 Crosby gave Paul one of the first production units of the new Ampex Model 200 reel to reel tape recorder. Within hours, Paul had the idea of modifying the machine by the addition of extra recording and playback heads which could allow him to simultaneously record a new track whilst monitoring the playback of previously recorded tracks.

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