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Thread: Barney Oliver

  1. #1
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    Barney Oliver

    Is anyone aware of the custom system built 1975 in Palo Alto for Barney Oliver, the Hewlett-Packard Research Director?

    The speaker system used JBL's in a concrete horn permancnetly poured in his basement included D-130's. I heard this was a birthday surprise by the engineers who worked for him but don't know how they could accomplish the surprise part.

    The amplifier, later made available only to hp employees for $400 parts cost, was assembled after hours in a labor of love in the research lab. It still has the best overall specs for a SS amp especially distortion. It was designed for the Shure V15 type 3 phono cart but had other inputs. Hi and lo cuts but no operator tone-type controls. Only 200 were made available. At full volume there are NO noise clicks when changing any switches. Normal listening done at 2-3 (10).

    Anyone ever seen pictures of know of this system?
    I have one of the amplifiers, known simply as a Barney Oliver Amplifier.

  2. #2
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    BARNEY OLIVER AMP

    HELLO I AM A NEWBY I HAVE RECENTLY BOUGHT A BARNEY OLIVER AMP DOES ANYONE KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS AMP.I PICKED IT UP AT A GOODWILL FOR 10.00

  3. #3
    Senior Member louped garouv's Avatar
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    I know nada, except that if you can, I would love to see a pic of your amp....

  4. #4
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    BARNEY OLIVER

    HERE IS A FEW PICS
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    BARNEY OLIVER

    ONE MORE INSIDE
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    BARNEY OLIVER

    SHE NEEDS A LITTE WORK BUT IT WILL BE SOMTHING TO PLAY WITH

  7. #7
    Senior Member louped garouv's Avatar
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    pretty cool piece there...

    enjoy it when it's ready for use again...

    would be pretty neat if you could dig up some more info
    on the system it was 'designed' for...


    even if just for documentation's sake...

    maybe you could email HP's historical society...
    they do a pretty good job with documentation,
    maybe someone there can remember...
    he was a pretty big deal...
    http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/pr...4/040211b.html
    (sorry for stating the obvious, but i'm trying to make it easy for everyone else)



    I don't know how technically advanced you are, but if you are not...
    you could find a reputable local tech to take a look at it...

    (i'm a lost cause in this respect, so visit the local favorite pretty frequently)
    he or she could give you a pretty good idea of what you are dealing with...

    maybe even look into one of the "nationally recognized' shops and
    give them a call...

    good luck!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Storm's Avatar
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    Quick Google search revealed....

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgu...n%26ie%3DUTF-8

    I would email him and ask him what he sold it for? He is very nice, so I am sure he would...

    I have spoke with him many, many times.



    -Storm.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member louped garouv's Avatar
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    recent ebay auction text....

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Barney-Oliver-st...QQcmdZViewItem

    BIN of $1250.00 1/26/07 for two complete units with full documentation

    Barney Oliver (1916-1995) was a legendary applied scientist of the last half of the 20th century. Vice-president of research and development at Hewlett Packard, founder and director of HP Labs – birthplace of the HP35, HP2116A, and the HP9100A, and more recently a member of National Inventors Hall of Fame. He was also an avid audiophile who designed his own stereo amplifier for his home in 1971. His colleagues and employees were so impressed with it that they begged and cajoled until it was agreed they would build and sell them to HP employees and friends – one time to fill orders on hand. Several of his close associates donated their time after-hours and 400 of these units were built at Santa Clara in the summer of 1972 with no warranty support. I had a friend at HP. This stereo amplifier was a work of genius. Most notable of it’s stunning performance was extremely low harmonic distortion = <0.01%, 2 mw to max. power, all frequencies. I took mine to a Mackintosh Clinic for analysis in 1973 and the engineers could not believe what they were seeing (I think they were using an HP harmonic analyzer). Barney was so obsessive that he optimized the amplifiers performance for a Shure V15 type II phono cartridge (best available @ the time) and J B Lansing LE85 and LE15A speakers. Per chanel power rating into 8 ohm speakers is 50 watts continuous, 160 watts peak. Size is 16.72” W, 5” H, 10.93 D At any rate, I have 2 complete units (my friend later sent me his) with Black Walnut side panels. It includes a comprehensive owners manual with complete specifications, circuit descriptions and schematics, and parts list. I also have a copy of the HP memo announcing the availability of Barney’s amplifier and a copy of the HP employee newsletter “The Peninsulan” February 1973 that describes the product and the program. I will pay shipping costs to continental US if reserve is met.


    Personally, I would email the seller/winning bidder and try to get some scans of the paperwork...

  10. #10
    Senior Member Don C's Avatar
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    It looks like it could have been made in a HP factory.

  11. #11
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    BARNEY OLIVER

    THANX FOR INFO IF I DO DECIDE TO SELL I WILL KEEP YOU IN MIND

  12. #12
    Senior Member duaneage's Avatar
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    On your keyboard there is a key marked Caps Lock, hit it once and then type normally.

  13. #13
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    Barney Oliver Amp

    "GOODWILL FOR 10.00"

    You found a Barney Oliver amp for $10 at the Goodwill? I need to hang around the thrift stores more often!

    My Dad worked at HP back then, but he didn't order one of these amps. Instead he brought home the internal memo offering them for sale, along with the schematics, so I decided I would build one. I managed to put one all together over several years (with a lot of help from my Dad), but I did something wrong in the power amps and wasn't able to make them work, even though my Dad and another HP engineer puzzled over it on the bench with all their equipment for a couple of hours.

    I couldn't let that vision die, so I dragged the carcass of that amp around with me for 25 years until it suddenly dawned on me that if I could complete projects like designing and rebuilding a duplex from the ground up, or writing a dissertation, then there was no reason I couldn't make that Barney Oliver amp work if I tried hard enough.

    After carefully reviewing all the parts and connections, and replacing a couple of burnt things, I discovered I had made some bad transistor substitutions. I was lucky enough to find some original parts on the Web (I had to search www.alltheweb.com because I couldn't find any on Google at the time). I was talking to my Dad on the phone when I plugged the correct transistors in their sockets and turned on the power. He got to share in my completion of that project when I confirmed the voltages and then plugged in my headphones to hear the first strains of glorious music.

    I have all the info on that amp that is available, I believe. You can now get most of it in the HP Archives online. There is a Manual and some other documents.

    The story my Dad told me was that Barney made one of these for himself, and he used to demo it for people who came over to his house. He would sweep the oscillator up from 0, and the windows would start to rattle before you could hear anything. The amp is specifically designed for the JBL LE15A and LE85 drivers, so I would guess that Barney had those in some configuration. I've always wondered exactly what he had.

    So many people at HP wanted one of the amps that they decided to do a "G-Job", where employees volunteered their time in off hours to lay out circuit boards, etc. My Dad said they did one production run of about 500 units.

    Are you interested in selling yours?

    Bruce

  14. #14
    RIP 2013 Rolf's Avatar
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    Very interesting story. Keep on.
    It's really all about music.
    Rolf

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by duaneage View Post
    On your keyboard there is a key marked Caps Lock, hit it once and then type normally.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rolf View Post
    Very interesting story. Keep on.
    Yes, please do both of these things.

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