Antique restoration of any form follows this same pattern. Think of restored cars, art, instruments, toys, all of those folks who choose to do so do it for more than the money. What it takes sometimes to complete the restoration cannot come close to breaking even but yet they do it anyway if there is uniqueness or just desire behind that articular effort. There seems to be a little voice inside that says, "I can make this work again..." that drives them all to do what they love.
While my main theme in this blog is high-end audio, I am temporarily expanding the theme in this series to include a few of these other dedicated individuals who restore other types of electronic treasures like radios and televisions. This same passion flows through their veins with such intensity that when meeting them you are immediately struck with their sincerity and expertise. All look at their work as preserving history and reviving what the inventor, engineer, or crafts person created. What attracts their attention is uniqueness, something they had not tried before and wanted to learn more about that particular thing that made it unique.
Audio engineers created novel solutions to the plethora of audio problems and many did so in an aesthetically pleasing manner to appeal to those who consider high-end gear ugly toys. Bang and Olufson (B&O), a company considered to produce good but not necessarily high-end gear, has at least taken the concept of attractive designs to its own high-end extreme earning collection status in New York's prestigious Museum of Modern Art.
For example, in the era of linear-tracking tonearms, the B&O Beogram 4000 turntable took what most manufacturers constructed as a mechanical masterpiece but a visual disaster and transformed it into a small piece of functional art. B&O carried a design theme across individual pieces so an entire system looked uniform, a continuation of an idea rather than a standout or afterthought. And it is for this reason I give B&O gear a nod for a less-than-optimum acoustic but top-of-the-line aesthetic system.
|The B&O Beogram 4000 circa 1972|
How It All Started
As mentioned in numerous posts in this blog, home audio entertainment began in 1877 with Edison's first cylinder player, a mechanical amplifier that took tiny vibrations recorded on a cylinder and using the horn-loading (i.e., impedance-matching) principle transformed whispers in the groove into roars from the horn. Electronics slowly evolved at this time with a basic discovery that electricity could move without a wire through a flame. From that knowledge, a man named Lee De Forest looked at this phenomenon a little differently and created a flame that did not extinguish, literally a glowing wire inside of a vacuum (aka a vacuum tube). From this approach he created the first electronic audio amplifier in 1906, a headphone amplifier for a radio receiver called the Audion.
|The first prototype Audion with the grid (zigzag wires) between the filament and plate circa 1906|
Refinements continued by many others to this first crude device made possible every electron tube ever conceived from the 12AX7 to the 5U4 to the KT88. And with the invention of the transistor on December 23, 1947 by the combined efforts of three Bell Telephone Laboratories Engineers, John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain, the history of amplification was again going to take a monumental turn.
|The First Prototype Transistor circa 1947|
|First Prototype Integrated Circuit of Jack Kilby circa 1958|
See also Part 1 and Part 3 of this series for more information on restorations and history.
Yours for higher fidelity,
Skeptics are essential to keep us sane; skeptics do little to keep us inspired. Philip Rastocny, 7-16-2014
Copyright © 2015 by Philip Rastocny. All rights reserved.