AES Historical Committee Report 2006-09-21

AES Historical Committee Report

for the Board of Governors Meeting

at the 121st Convention, San Francisco, 2006-10-09

The Historical Committee will hold an open meeting during this Convention on 2006-10-07 (Saturday) at 09...11 hours, in Room 228. The meeting will be chaired by Historical Committee Chair Jay McKnight. You are all welcome to attend the Historical Committee meeting. We will discuss the activities reported below, and anything else you wish to bring up. The list below includes all of the Historical Committee Projects [as numbered in our Guidelines], so you can see everything that we might be doing.

I have referenced many reports that are on our website, and given direct links, as well as the text URLs for anyone reading off-line. Please read these reports.

This will be my last Historical Committee Report to you, since I am resigning this position as of this Convention. My thanks to all of the Project Leaders and their committee members for their hard work on these projects over the last 7 years. You can see many of the results on our web page at .

Our Guidelines say that the AES HC shall:

1 Unite persons interested in the history of audio engineering and its allied fields.
General goal, in accordance with the AES Charter.

2 Serve as a link between recording studios, radio stations, manufacturers, and others who wish to discard old equipment; and museums, libraries, archives, and private collectors who wish to preserve it.
3 Serve as a link between recording studios, radio stations, manufacturers, and others who wish to discard documents relating to the history of audio engineering; and museums, libraries, archives, and private collectors who wish to preserve them.
Myles Davis has this project: (that's ) .We find very few, if any, places who "wish to [accept and] preserve historical pro-audio equipment and literature." We have sent out his "Request for Information" to the HC and to the "Ampex Mailing List",  soliciting information about audio museums. Please re-send it to anyone that you know that might be able to help us. All ideas gladly accepted.

4 Collaborate with the AES Standards Committee, SC-03 Subcommittee on the Preservation and Restoration of Audio Recording, and other AES committees and subcommittees, as appropriate.
We recently posted a scan of the original paper, A New Standard Volume Indicator and Reference Level, by Chinn, Gannett, and Morris. The classic 1940 IRE paper on the development of the "vu meter". Includes the history of volume indicators, the engineering factors in designing the meter, and the text of the original standard.

5 Organize and maintain an archive relating to the history of the Audio Engineering Society itself. The AES HC shall not create any other archive, nor any museum or library of its own.
This is Roger Furness' project. Irv Joel has sent a proposal to Roger for cataloging and indexing the papers that have been moved from AES HQ to a storage warehouse. With Roger's permission, we shall do this right after this (SF) Convention.

6 Cooperate with existing libraries, archives, and museums; and with other professional organizations with related interests [e.g., Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), International Association of Sound Archives (IASA), Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Verein Deutscher Tonmeister (VDT)].
Nothing active.

7 Contact important figures in the history of audio engineering and encourage them to donate historical papers to existing museums, archives, or libraries to ensure their long-term preservation.
Nothing active, because we can't find places to accept the material. All ideas gladly accepted.

8 Organize appropriate sessions on the history of audio engineering, or a display on an appropriate historical subject, at Conventions, in cooperation with Convention Committees; and at Local Section meetings, in cooperation with Local Sections.
Bill Wray has organized seven historical talks for this Convention. These are now posted here for you to see. Our special thanks to Bill and his committee for putting together this fine package of talks. Please come and see them!
Irv Joel is starting to think about talks &c for 2007 New York -- ideas gladly accepted..

9 Create and operate two AES HC email reflectors: a Steering Committee Reflector for discussions of purely administrative matters of the Committee; and a general Historical Reflector for discussions of actual historical matters.
Ongoing, here at and here at .Join our reflector. The email reflector continues on the "" server, with thanks to David Josephson.

10 Create an AES HC web site on which to publish the information compiled in the following sections.
We continue to upgrade and add to our website . Latest additions can be found at "What's New on this website"

11 Create a directory of museums, libraries, archives, and private collections that contain historic audio equipment or documents about the history of audio engineering.
Ongoing at , linked here.

12 Devise a catalog for classifying the inventions and developments made in audio engineering, based on the work of HK Thiele.
Ongoing at . In 2006-05, Cornelius Bradter wrote: "Unfortunately the Thiele-Krause Archive is currently offline." That situation continues, and I have been unable to reach him to get a status report on this project.

13 Record oral histories (sound only, sound with video, and/or sound with still photographs) of important figures in the history of audio engineering.
From Project Leader Irv Joel: We have so far recorded some 117 Oral Histories, as listed at
. These are video + sound recordings on some 150 original Hi8 digital video cassette tapes, now stored at John Chester's office in High Bridge, New Jersey.

Our major concern at this time is the lack of backup copies and an appropriate storage place.

The original tapes should be in secure climate-controlled storage. A related question is where to store the working copies. John Chester is now making one backup copy of each tape onto mini-DV video cassettes. We believe that it would be useful to also make DVD copies of the original interviews, and we will pursue this.

About half of the master tapes have been copied so far, and we expect all to be done by 2007-06. We are still looking for an appropriate storage place for the backup set.

Altho we have been trying to get these interviews edited for release to the public, we have had difficulty finding volunteer editors, and only 2 have been edited so far.

There are lots of other AES tapes which were not created by the Oral History Project. For example, John also has 135 other Hi8 cassettes which are various convention events, "When Vinyl Ruled" presentations, etc. He does not have a detailed inventory of these tapes yet. And there are AES tapes elsewhere, including probably in the boxes put into storage by AES HQ, which we plan to inventory Real Soon Now. John won't have time in the near future to back up any of these additional tapes -- perhaps they should just be inventoried and put into archival storage.

There are more details in the report here, at .

14 Collect, write, publish, and otherwise disseminate accurate historical information about the field of audio engineering.

Ongoing at , linked here. We need to reorganize that page to make things more easily found. I had someone working on it, but he has resigned, and asks that we find someone else.

We have many links to other historical sites. Myles Davis continues to add new links to our link site .

See also item 4 above, on the reprint of the Chinn, Gannett, and Morris paper "A New Standard Volume Indicator..."

George Brock-Nannestad is working on a project to make patents on audio devices more accessible. His report is here.

Jay McKnight has been working with AES Journal Managing Editor Bill McQuaid on two projects:

The first is to carry the AES Journal back to its beginning in "Audio Engineering" magazine during the years 1948...1952. This includes the original "Letters to the Editor" about forming an Audio Engineering Society, plus a number of technical papers. We will publish all of this on the HC website. Our thanks to Dave  Dintenfass and Dylan Constan-Wahl for providing the scans.

The second is to make the "back" of the AES Journal available online. Altho the Electronic Library has only the technical papers, the original Mira scan included the entire Journal, cover to cover. This includes AES committee lists, convention reports, sections and members information, advertisements, patent reviews, etc. We will also publish this on the HC website.

Jay McKnight, Chair
AES Historical Committee

AES - Audio Engineering Society