First Contact

First Contact

Popular Electronics Sep 1976On a dark night in October of 1976, my mother came up from Yakima to Seattle to sit with me while I packed up and left my husband. She was disappointed and nervous, and even more so when I convinced her to take one hit from the joint I was enjoying as I packed. After her hit she began looking around with paranoia, certain the cops would be knocking on the door any minute. The panic was not alleviated when a large pounding actually began on my front door. She was convinced it was the police. I opened the door to find a 6’4”, shaggy-headed stranger who asked “Did you order 12 EQ kits with no chassis from Popular Electronics?” 

In September of 1976 I was attending Renton Vocational Tech in the electronics department. We had just received our big project assignment and every one of us wanted to build the 10-band equalizer that had just come out as a kit in that month’s Popular Electronics. Our instructor had OK’d the kit, but not the chassis, so we had been attempting to purchase 12 incomplete kits. The guys struck out when they called the company, so I wrote a letter and tried to explain, and now here was this dude on my doorstep.

“Does this mean we get the circuit board and parts with no chassis?” I was very excited. “Smoke the rest of that joint with me and I’ll go get ’em,” he replied. “They’re in the car.” Bryan Morrison had entered my life.

And such was my introduction to the other side of the Popular Electronics my dad loved. The side that writes the articles, produces the kits – this was just a guy! If he could do it, I could do it. It turned out to be a great way to approach new endeavors. It also turned out to be the beginning of meeting a chain of incredible, creative, hard-working people that turned out products that became legendary.

I moved to Portland and partnered with my previous electronics instructor. He designed a solid-state version of the Burwen dynamic audio filter (also known as a hiss filter), and between us we designed, screened, etched, drilled the circuit boards, and stockpiled the parts. I wrote the construction manual, using lots of drawings and clear markings, and I tested it on my most impatient brothers, the ones least likely to read manuals, to achieve the most information flow with the least amount of effort on the part of the tech. Popular Electronics published the article and the kits began to sell well.

Bryan Morrison led me in to Popular Electronics, but he somehow also helped precipitate contact with the audio industry. Around this time I had the joy of meeting Rodger Rosenbaum (Phase Linear), Bill Skinner (Phase Linear), Greg Mackie (leaving Tapco, starting Audio Control), Bob and Robin Gudgel (Spectro Acoustics), Brian O’Leary, Dave Kaplan, Harvey Gilbert, Ron Koliha… I was hooked.

With thanks to Ebay Vendor 69boss70 (great source for old mags) for reproduction rights to the cover photo. This issue is not available currently and the vendor was gracious to share.


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