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[TenTec] The demise of manufacture

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Subject: [TenTec] The demise of manufacture
From: rohre@arlut.utexas.edu (rohre)
Date: 28 Jan 1998 13:34:04 -0500
Jim and the TT fans,
About 1967 or so incentive licensing took away HF priviledges from many of us.
Some got so mad they became inactive in the hobby, and also, the change in
licensing did in many a high school ham club.

When the source of new hams and upgrading hams lessened; there was less demand
for equipment, and many of the ham stores and American manufacturers bit the
dust, hastened along by their reliance on tube technology, and the increase in
Japanese imports of transistor radios.  Swan (tubes) was succeeded by Atlas
(all transistor transceivers) in the early 70's, making a stab at transistor
radios, with some novel ideas.  But, management problems, and press of
offshore competition did them in as well.

The switch from separate radios to transceivers lessened the number of chassis
the factories had to produce, but affected manufacturing economy of scale, and
number of units and money volume.

Then, CB radio came along, to take, for a short time, the fancy of new entries
to radio as a hobby.  No exam, lower investment in equipment, and ready built
from Asia.  CB's were as cheap as the mid $30 range, new!  The Atlas was
around $550 and later $750.  Collins and many others like Hallicrafters were
bought out by corporate raiders in the 70's as their old ham owners and staff

Heath went on for awhile, but itself became the victim of buyouts and the
increasing desire of hams for ready built radios; as hams spare time, and
building skills were lessened, not enhanced by the debacle of "incentive
licensing".  Ham growth slowed to a trickle.

Bless Ten Tec, they developed while other American ham companies declined. 
But they had that ham core of ownership and engineering that the corporate
takeover companies were losing.  Eventually, the old time ham radio companies
all fell by the wayside.  Collins finally brought out a new radio, that to
some of us did not even look like a radio.  Of course, they were still high

A few start ups tried, but crashed and burned, like the Signal One effort.
(They were a bit temperamental, but worked for some.)  They lacked long term
reliability I guess, and repeat manufacturability at a profit, if that makes
sense. They too, were high end.

The designer who inspired the Atlas 180 and 2xx series, ZL1 AAX, Les Earnshaw,
having come to the U.S., found that two way radios were more profitable than
the ham industry, and founded Kachina Communications in Az. to manufacture VHF

Also in the late 60's and 70's, 2M repeaters took off, but most hams converted
Police radios rather than buy new.  At first there were few new repeater
compatible radios.
Just Inoue, (now Icom) and ICE, International Communications and Electronics,
a start up from San Antonio.  Like a lot start ups with thin supply lines, a
discontinued part, and financial problems did in ICE.  By then, other imports
flooded the ham 2M market, and then HF, and we came to the situation today.

I don't know if the new Kachina entry is the same company Earnshaw was with,
but he did have an innovative design in the Atlas in its time.  If he is still
at Kachina, perhaps this new one will be something.  But, TEN TEC has a
computer radio with virtual front panel as well.  

However, to me, an analog radio and a computer don't exist well in the same
tower.  Give me real knobs to turn as well any day! :-)

73, Stuart K5KVH  (I have never used the memories in my non Ten Tec HF Radio,
and my Scout works fine without them as well! :-)

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