Just a Phase?

Just a Phase?

Phase Linear Employees 1973. Courtesy Nissen Collection

Phase Linear Employees 1973. Courtesy Nissen Collection

I received a charming letter from Gene, admin for theCarversite.com. This site is basically an equipment resource for all things Phase Linear/ Carver Corp/ Sunfire.  They also do the Carverfest. They truly celebrate Bob Carver and the equipment produced by companies he started.

At first I thought – some of my friends have pristine samples and unusual prototypes and this might be a good way for them to find someone to truly love and appreciate their old equipment. (I still think that!) I then realized it was also a good opportunity to give a shout out to those companies and to share more of the story with the people that fall in love with the equipment. From my experiences and audio history research I find these companies to be even cooler than they seem from their products.

There are a lot of people between a visionary’s sharp idea and a functioning, out the door product. Sharp ideas take months to prototype, design, and document. Each company had an Engineering Department. Each company had solid, working engineers, designers, drafters.  Several people share patents with Bob.  The Engineering Departments were responsible for helping to capture Bob’s ideas and make them real, safe, and reproducible. Schematics had to be generated, a parts list with vendors, the circuit board laid out. And the mechanical design – chassis drawings, face panel layouts – lots of skill, lots of talented people.

Let’s not forget the factories! From Purchasing, through Receiving/Stores, Supervisors,  Assemblers, and QC Techs into Packaging and Shipping, Admin, Sales, and Service – there were a lot of people that really cared about these companies and the products they were making. And Carver had onsite daycare in the ’80s!

The early Phase Linear, Carver, and Sunfire equipment was built in the USA, hand built by people that actually cared. And rocked! It was not unusual for one guy in a band to get a gig and then bring his buddies in.  It’s the Pacific Northwest, with a band in every garage. Guys gotta eat!

Phase Linear had one of the first solder pots in the Northwest in our industry, inspiring Greg Mackie ( Tapco, Audio Control, Mackie) to invest in one, too. People involved with Phase in the old days ended up enriching the audio world by starting or flowing into other companies: Tapco, Audio Control, Spectro Acoustics, Rane, Symetrix, Magnolia, and more.

All three companies, gone now, still have employee events. Think about that! People get together and enjoy the friendships forged in those early days. I have been to several gatherings and I have had a great time every time. The times were special, but the people were, too. And still are, which is why I have such a good time!

If a lot of old equipment seems magical, I don’t doubt it. There are enormous amounts of talent, care, dedication, friendship, and rockin’ good times in there.

Phase Linear built this building. Original size can be seen as the grey roof on the left. Carver moved in around 1986. Courtesy Nissen Collection

Phase Linear Building. Original size built in 1974 can be seen as the grey roof on the right. The expansion was done winter 1976-1977. Phase moved out end of 1982. Carver Corp moved in around 1986. Courtesy Nissen Collection




One Responseto “Just a Phase?”

  1. Gene C says:

    Thank you for taking the time to register on the forum Colleen! I look forward to you and your crew sharing stories, knowledge and info on the years at Carver Corp. We are a bunch of audio nuts that consider most of each other family on the forum. Everyone will get a warm welcome and the forums full attention when they show up. Look forward to your future articles and future development on the site with the ones who knew and worked for Bob.

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