The first microphone manufactured by Shure was the Two-Button Carbon Microphone (1932).
As the first lightweight, quality product in a market dominated by large, costly devices, it quickly gained acceptance.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and U.S. news broadcaster Walter Winchell were among the well-known individuals who used early Shure microphones.
But if the Two-Button Carbon Microphone got Shure started, it was the 1939 introduction of the Unidyne I that secured the company’s place in audio history.
Famed figures such as Elvis Presley, Groucho Marx, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Indira Gandhi have been photographed with a version of this popular microphone. Over the years, it has become a cultural icon.
The iconic Shure Unidyne.(click to enlarge)
As the first single-element unidirectional microphone, the Unidyne I was smaller, better sounding, and more affordable than any other microphone on the market.
Thanks to this innovative product, broadcasters were no longer the only ones seen stationed behind a microphone. More and more, microphones were becoming part of the everyday world.
When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Shure organized its operation to supply specialized microphones for war communications, including throat microphones for bomber pilots, “battle announce” microphones for the Navy, and microphones in plastic cases for tanks.
As a result of strict military specifications, or MILSPEC, new standards of ruggedness and reliability were necessary for these products to do the job.
Shure’s version of “Rosie The Riveter” – as in other industries during World War II, women took up the slack in producing products vital to the war effort.
The company worked hard to meet the stringent specifications, developing testing procedures to ensure that its products would work under the most adverse conditions.
After the war, Shure returned to the manufacture of civilian products. Its first phonograph cartridge had been developed in 1937, and by the mid-1940s, Shure was producing cartridges for major manufacturers of the popular phonographs of the era, including Philco, RCA, Emerson, and Magnavox.