If You’re Going To San Francisco….

…Flowers in your hair are no longer necessary (what, you don’t remember the song by Scott McKenzie?), but do make a point to check out the History of Audio exhibit in Terminal Three (mostly United Airlines gates). Word has it that it was put there to coincide with the AES convention last October, and it runs through the end of this month. So maybe I’m the last to find out about it. But if you are even remotely interested in how sounds to us over the radio, television, in movie theatres, and our homes, it’s absolutely terrific. Of course, also a trip down memory lane for the RoeDeo (Dr. Wizard dryly noted that it was a slightly more organized version of what’s lying around in the attic), with (mostly accurate) biographies and photos from the Golden Age of Hi-Fi, and earlier, including such luminaries as Lee De Forest, FM Radio inventor Edwin Armstrong, Henry Kloss, Edgar Villchur of AR fame,

Ray Dolby, and the brilliant English visionary Alan Blumlein.
And the “stuff,” of course: (grabbed from the SFO website:)

One hundred and thirty years of audio inventions are on display—from Thomas Edison’s first sound recorder, to systems that produce theater-quality sound in your home and digital players that put a thousand songs in your pocket. The importance of sound in our lives is evident in the many inventions that are closely associated with the generation that enjoyed them—the Victrola, the hi-fi stereo system, the eight-track player, the Walkman, and presently, the iPod. The only constant is change, and as the development of sound technology continues, one day even the iPod will seem as quaint as a wind-up gramophone.

My favorites included a 1946 “disc cutter” for making your own home 78s (in case you thought a DVD burner was a new idea!), a vintage 8-track tape recorder, and, from 1956, an early Ampex 2″ video tape machine bought by CBS and in use for decades. The thing looks bulletproof. And the piece de resistance: An original
“Highway Hi-Fi” for playing records in your brand-new 1956 Chrysler – replete with a photo of a beaming Lawrence Welk using one in his new Hemi ragtop. Priceless.


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