It was 20 years ago today or at least this month. In September 1983, Sound & Video Contractor magazine debuted. As we commemorate the 20th anniversary
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Sep 1, 2003 12:00 PM, Mark Johnson

It was 20 years ago today — or at least this month. In September 1983, Sound & Video Contractor magazine debuted. As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of this magazine, we take the opportunity to reflect on the history and advancements made in this industry during the past 20 years. For the last eight months, we have been running “20 Years Ago in the Industry,” featuring interviews with some of the key people who have watched and participated as the contracting industry developed, grew, and changed.

Twenty years ago, the contracting industry was quite different from what it is today. Technical advancements, continuing education, and customer service are some of the cornerstone aspects of business now. The focus of disciplines has shifted. Networking, IT, and control of systems are major areas of focus.

The systems-contracting industry remains a relatively small and close-knit community; many of the people are still involved, though a lot of us are wearing different hats. Twenty years ago, S&VC's current associate publisher, Erika Lopez, made the premier issue in the “People” section with news of her joining SoundCraft Electronics to handle advertising and PR. We've grown up, and so has the industry.

Twenty years ago, the cover story started with a brief introduction by editor Fred Ampel that lead into the first segment of a two-part series about the acoustics of EPCOT by Marshall Long. The issue also included a general microphone primer (part one of two) by Travis Ludwig and some insight into the role of an acoustical consultant by David Adams.

A few things caught my eye as I thumbed through the pages of the premier issue of Sound & Video Contractor. It also brought back some memories: “Oh, I used to use that product!” or “I remember them!” The mostly black-and-white advertisements indicated who the movers and shakers were at the time. Some of them — like Shure, JBL, and Yamaha — are at least as dominant in market share today as they were then. Others have a lower profile now or are completely out of existence, like Quad/Eight. Others, like Dukane, have shifted gears. Twenty years ago, it was promoting its loudspeakers, but now Dukane has diversified and produces products for health care, education, and A/V, as well as seacom products for the commercial aviation and marine industries and ultrasonic products. UMC Electronics Company advertised the UMC Beaucart SFE-100 splice finder (with bulk eraser) for endless loop cartridge tapes (remember tape?).

The only reference to the word digital was in ads for delay units by DeltaLab, Audio Digital. Eventide Clockworks had its CD 254 Delay line that offered 254 ms of delay or the JJ 193, which provided as much as 2.046 sec. of delay. The company recently resurfaced with a new unit that has some of the old algorithms of its classic models. NEI had its 2711X digital equalizer/RTA.

Samson was promoting a new wireless system, and Aphex had a two-page spread showing everything from its rackmount Aural Exciters, modular EQs, and compressor/limiters to VCA ICs and conversion PC boards. Spectra Sonics also had a two-page spread. Its Model 610 Complimiter is often found on vintage equipment lists. Electro-Voice was a Gulton company then, and 20 years later finds it going through several ownerships, with Telex being the current parent company. Crown International was introducing the Tecron TEF System 10 spectrum analyzer.

The coverage of video equipment was primarily security cameras. A multipart article on camera basics provided general information about the principles and theory behind TV cameras for security applications. Tubes ruled the market, though “some new cameras employ a photo-sensitive integrated circuit matrix (charge coupled device) as a video transducer in place of the camera tube, but there are few of these in the present-day security field.”

The first issue also included a report on the first standalone exposition for NSCA (when it was the National Sound and Communications Association) in Las Vegas. It attracted nearly 500 contractors from the United States and Canada.

Quite a bit has transpired in the past 20 years, though through all the technological advancements, economical and industry shake-ups, and corporate buyouts, there was a unique sense of camaraderie and motivation that propelled us through those years. It still exists 20 years later, and it is part of why this industry continues to thrive.

Thanks to Mark Gander of JBL for his help with this column.

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