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Berlant Concertone

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Preserving the stories of significant individuals in sound recording generally and magnetic recording specifically is a major project of MOMSR. The Museum’s goal is to document the stories of those persons who contributed significant inventions, manufactured equipment and who engineered and produced audio recordings, especially in the areas of music, broadcast, film/video and science. These interviews will be available on MOMSR’s web site and in the permanent facility when it is created. These interviews have also been made available to the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy’s).


Berlant Concertone

April, 2012
Phantom Productions received this information from Jerry Norton who worked with American Astro-Systems as they transitioned from Concertone tape recorders to supplying high tech gear to the military.

"You asked about my thoughts on the Berlant/Concertone evolution. Here is the story according to my recollection and personal involvement.
 
In 1962 Berlant sold the Concertone line and rights to the name to “American Astro-Systems” a small Aerospace firm in South El Monte, CA.

It was in this time frame, 1963 that  I recall American Concertone licensed the rights to manufacture the Model 505 to TEAC (Tokyo Electro Acoustic Company) who as we know continued to manufacture this baseline through 1970.

TEAC produced the 505 and some of the early Concertone recorder subassembly components in Japan as well as DOKORDER.

However, the final assembly and checkout took place in the US (Culver City and South El Monte, CA).

Berlant left the company in 1963. 

After the acquisition, the Concertone management team (Arne L. Berg / Kenneth M. Williamson) and  and technical personnel (Deiter Brandt and Richard Schullenberg) were relocated from Culver City, CA to South El Monte, CA where Arne and Kenneth continued to pursue the development of an automatic tape reversing mechanism to permit bi-directional playback on an existing four track tape recorder having an asymmetrical capstan drive system .  

This tape drive technology evolved into the American Concertone 800 Series  “Reverse-O-Matic” High-Fidelity consumer product line and it’s little brother the AC or battery powered Model 727.

The parent company (American Astro-Systems) ultimately changed its focus in 1964 to militarized avionics and high environmental multi-channel recording products and became “Astro-Science Corporation.” Astro-Science (then owned by Tracor Inc.)  was later sold to “Bell & Howell” in the 70’s and became part of the DATATAPE division.

The recording systems produced became very specialized and primarily used in Airborne, Space and Shipboard applications.

I was a key part of the engineering / marketing team starting at American Astro-Systems that evolved the Hi-Fi magnetic tape recording technology into the Military and Government program markets with the help of some early Co-axial reel tape drive mechanism developments (see attachment).

In fact, the early airborne reconnaissance intelligence recording systems for the U2 and SR-71 aircraft during the “Cold War” were built by the Concertone/Astro-Science Corporation Engineering team.

The Concertone product line ceased production around late 1966 (Arne Berg and Kenneth Williamson departed) and the name was sold to Monarch Electronics International Inc. of North Hollywood, CA (and Japan) in 1968– where it resides today.

Strangely, the 4 and 8 track tape players produced in 1969 by Monarch were marketed under the “Cal-Best Electronics” moniker.

The Concertone name plate was never used on another audio tape recording product again and 1987 saw the end of consumer recorder production as we all knew it.
 
I have traced a history time line of the Berlant legacy going back to 1951 when the Model 1401 was marketed under the “Berlant Associates” name.
 
Hope this information is of help to you.
Regards,
Jerry

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