ONGOING RESEARCH

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This page is devoted to listing topics of ongoing research for which we need the help of our readers.

COAXIAL HISTORY

May 28, 2000 - There is a fundamental question regarding the development of the Duplex speaker for which we would appreciate any assistance.  Specifically, we are trying to confirm if the Duplex was indeed the first coaxial speaker ever made.  Altec Lansing implied this in their sales literature with their marketing claim "First time in history - a two way loudspeaker in compact form".  However Stephens Tru-Sonic made an even more direct claim in their 1940's add copy that stated "First to design, manufacture and sell a multicellular, coaxial, two-way speaker".  Finally, we have an unconfirmed report that someone, possibly WE, produced a coaxial speaker consisting of a WE555 mounted behind an 18" Jensen bass driver.  


WE Coaxial Speakers
Courtesy Bill Woods

August 23, 2000 - Since the above was written, we have a bit more insight to add, but the riddle is not yet completely solved.  Thanks to Bill Woods, we have definitive evidence that Western Electric (WE) developed coaxial speakers in 1933.  At right, is the front page of WE's patent for what appears to be two versions of a coaxial driver.  Both used field coils for the fixed magnetic fields.  The top driver appears to use two separate field coils for the high frequency and low frequency diaphragms, similar to the later Altec Lansing 604.  The bottom driver appears to one coil that is similar in topology to the later Tannoy Dual Concentric of 1947.  Both drivers used utilized the cone as the high frequency horn flare that was also in common with the later Tannoy.  The question on who developed the first multicellular coaxial speaker still remains.   Both Altec and Stephens Tru-Sonic claim this accomplishment.  We know the Altec dates from 1943, but have yet to confirm the date of introduction for the Stephens unit.

ALTEC HISTORY

May 28, 2000 - On a sadder note, the opening of this site coincides with the closure of the Altec Lansing Professional Sound division of Telex Communications.  As of this month, the Altec Lansing name ceases to exist in the professional market and will only live on as a brand of multimedia speakers.  We are looking for any insight on the long downward spiral, that appeared to begin in the late 70's.  In 1975, Altec literature stated they had over 1000 employees, which was larger than that of their main competitor JBL.  By 1983, they were in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and would soon sell off the consumer division before being taken over by Gulton Sound in 1985.  There would be numerous other changes in ownership before culminating in the recent closure.

August 16, 2000 - We're still looking for insight on the above.  It appears that LTV spun off Altec as a public company in 1972 with a substantial amount of debt.  Indications are that this debt handcuffed Altec throughout the 70's and limited their ability to bring new product to market.  However, this assessment remains speculative.  Any further insight would be appreciated.

WESTERN ELECTRIC / ALTEC RELATIONSHIP

August 23, 2000 - We're looking for information on this relationship after WE's acceptance of the consent decree that led to the formation of All Technical Services Corporation (Altec) in 1938. We had been under the impression that the decree forced WE to divest both the theatre loudspeaker manufacturing and servicing divisions.  However, subsequent information shows that Western Electric continued to manufacture theatre loudspeakers into the 1940's.  What remains unexplained is why Altec did not avail itself of Western Electric's new products at this time, instead of relying on the parts stock they inherited after the divestiture.  It was the depletion of this stock that led to Altec's subsequent  purchase Lansing Manufacturing in 1941.  Further, at some point in the late 40's or early 50's, WE did stop manufacture of theatre speakers and resold Altec products as OEM units under their name.  The details of this later arrangement remain a mystery to us.

JBL MYSTERY SPEAKER


Harman International, Courtesy Mark Gander and John Eargle

September 9, 2001 - The photograph of the speaker at right (click to enlarge) was found with a series of publicity shots in JBL's archive at Northridge CA. The file and photo contained no information on either what the speaker was or the date. We can find no record of this system in JBL's product literature. It may be a prototype that was never manufactured, but if not, we are wondering if anyone has seen such a system before or knows what it is. It is obviously a three-way system with an 075 ring radiator, an apparent HL89 and 375 and an unknown 15" driver. Our best guess is that the system dates from around 1957 given the vintage of the other photos in the file.

If you can enlighten us on any of these issues, drop us a line at our mailbox.