AES Historical Committee, Minutes from 108th Convention, Paris

Minutes of the AES Historical Committee Meeting

at the 108th AES Convention, 2000-02-21, in Paris

The meeting of the AES HC was held on 2000 February 21, in Paris between 10:00 and 12:30. European Chair Roberto Beppato was Chair for the meeting.

The following people were present: Mr H.A.O. Wilms, Mr Roberto Beppato, Mr Manfred Krause, Mr Donald Plunkett, Mr Daniel R. Von Recklinghausen, Mr Louis Manno, Mr Sean Davies, Mr John Woodgate, Mr James Kaiser, Mr Marshall Buck, Mr David Robinson, Mr Roy Pritts, Mr Luciano Daleo (technical staff of the Italian state recording media archives - Rome), Mr Lewis Cullborn? (signature not readable). Mr Grundy was in Paris but was absent for personal reasons; he arrived at 12:30.

1  Mr Manfred Krause started the meeting with a discussion of a memo from Robert Van der Hilst concerning AESHC convention facilities.

2  Mr H. A. O. Wilms wheeled in a Studer tape recorder A37 dating back about 45 years, still mint conditions and operational. Mr Wilms mentioned that Mr Peter Bollen, one of the members of the AES HC died on 2000 February 16, leaving one of the largest private collection of  microphones on the premises of the PAC Eela company. Everybody hopes that this collection will end up in a Dutch museum for broadcasting.

3  Mr Roy Pritts suggested to plan well in advance the AES HC meeting in Los Angeles, and decide whether some written documents and a presentation should be prepared for publication/distribution. This includes interviews with personalities in the audio field, and also the presentation of vintage audio pro gear.

4  Mr Manfred Krause suggested to use a list of standard questions for the interviews. Mr John Woodgate noted that these interviews are with major personalities and it is very difficult to get them to unwind and feel at ease. It is very important that the person who performs the interview be aware of the professional life of the person being interviewed. Otherwise an important chapter may be completely forgotten or may have been erased from the mind of the inventor. We solicit other members of the AESHC to comment on this idea.

5  Mr Plunkett reminded the audience of the AES HC that in some interview a person in good faith may attribute to himself a patent which was given in reality to somebody else. The AES should look for ways to protect itself from legal action. Mr Roy Pritts informed us that a "model release type contract" will be necessary from Mr Joel in USA. The Chair thinks that every member of the AES HC should have a copy, and will ask that it be posted directly.

6  Mr Joel in a previous e-mail stated that whom to interview and when must be based on the importance of the contributions of this person to the audio professional community. Who makes this decision? [Mr Joel has replied by email: "I don't find this statement in my email, but in any case that is not what I intended to say. If anyone is willing to conduct an interview with a person whom they feel should be recorded, then hopefully under our guidance the interview will be done and welcome. I don't have any sure-fire way of predicting how well an interview will come out, but I am sure that doing the interview is the best practice."]

7  Manfred Krause proposed to ask the manufacturers of audio equipment to let us know what kind of archives they have and which part of these archives might possibly be available to AES HC (pictures of prototypes and production model, patent applications, patents granted, production processes relevant to special results for the products).

8  The Chair commented that he does not know how many manufacturers keep a record of what they manufacturer over the decades and if they have these archives in a form that one day it could be easily transferred to the AES archives.

9  We have to investigate this at local level possibly with a person who still works for these manufacturers, or who retired within living memory, to get first hand information.

10  Roy Pritts proposed to use the service of student members to collect or make pictures of the various artifacts in museum, radio stations, private collectors or manufacturers. One problem could be that students will have great difficulty to separate artifacts of great significance from standard objects. In some places like the Vatican Museum and RAI Broadcasting Museum in Turin, the manager will not allow students to approach the items on the shelves. Persons must be selected to accompany the student in these visits and to help them to select the material.

11  Mr Woodgate suggested that AES send a sample letter to all of the AES HC members stating that they are doing the research on behalf of the AES. This letter will be required from the HC and used as a template to approach the several organisations in different countries.

12  Mr Louis Manno mentioned that he thought that the Ampex collection had found a place in a museum in New York. We must get the complete address of this museum and a list of all objects in the collection.

13  There was general agreement that much archival material is being lost forever due to the closures and mergers taking place in the industry. This is due to the very high cost of maintaining a museum these days. Apart from companies being loth to invest funds in a museum of their own, they are reluctant to contribute to the upkeep of centralized museums serving the whole industry. Mr Woodgate mentioned that UNESCO under its umbrella should take care of this problem, before they are forever condemned to the scrap yard. This is a good idea. Support from UNESCO, if available (and it certainly won't be if no one asks), would be used to support either existing or new museums.

    The Chair suggested that UNESCO might be encouraged to create a transit camp for audio artifacts, but that he believes that Unesco has other priorities, and who could or should manage and finance this transit camp is not yet on the AES horizon. Mr Woodgate doesn't think a transit camp is necessary and thus it doesn't need managing.

14  Mr Louis Manno mentioned that in Nashville there is now an audio history museum with a restoration section that is extremely active. The Chair remarked that the details of this museum should be put on the AES page together with other addresses of other museums.

15  Mr Woodgate made a suggestion about a paper session of the AES HC at the next meeting in Europe about subjects which may be of historical interest.

16  The Chair mentioned that the technical member of the Vatican Radio Mr Florenzo Petitta (the Vice-President of the Italian Section) would be available to show a video of the inauguration day of the Vatican radio showing. Mr Guglielmo Marconi, the Pope, Monsig. Franceschini, the general manager of the radio standing in front of a Reiss marble/carbon microphone for the speech marking the beginning of the Vatican Radio. Two film units in OB van by Westrex USA can be seen on San Peter Square fitted with long horns on the roof for PA purposes.

17  Mr Daleo from the management of the Italian State Archives for Media (Edison cilinders, discs, etc) said he would be interested to present a CD Rom with many historical artifacts of this very important museum in Rome dating back 130 years.

18  One of the members suggested that some members of the AES HC should contact companies to check if they have artifacts or documentation they are willing to discard. Probably the problem here is where do you put these items once you get them: in the Chair's opinion museums have not shown much interested in more artifacts. What they really need are a few more wings to add to existing ones, so they can show what they already have in the cellars.

19  Roy Pritts presented a list of points that he was going to present to the BOG. Some items were noted, other added or modified, and Roy will inform us about the results.

20  Mr Davies mentioned some museums in England, and surely every member would like to have their addresses:

  • Film Technology
  • Film Museum
  • Moving Image
  • BKSTS (British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society) Museum
Mr Woodgate or Mr Davies were asked to provide complete addresses, phone, fax and e-mail, opening days and hours, to Mr Manfred Krause.

21  Mr Manfred Krause informed the members of the AES HC that the Technical University of Berlin is developing an interactive web site on which details of several devices can be seen, operated and probably listened to at the TU-Berlin. This will be used to teach sound engineers how to use these devices (mixers, limiters, etc) without being there physically. This could be very interesting also for AESHC to get members acquainted with old devices that people have no idea how to operate, and this could be a way to show them on a PC screen without touching them.

22  Mr Davies mentioned that old equipment is even more fascinating when it works, as the performance is not that bad if you remember it was achieved 80...100 years ago. Unfortunately it is very difficult to get young people interested in the maintenance of these devices, because they have more interest in computers.

23  The Chair remarked that his experience sitting in front of a gramophone with horn that was 6 meter long and over 2 meters in diameter at the mouth was very moving. He did not hear the noise from the 1920 record, he only heard Caruso's voice (Nimbus record in UK).

24  Mr Donald Plunkett invited the AES HC members to put pressure on the BOG to reissue the Journal centennial number (Vol 25 Nr 10/11, 1977 Oct/Nov), including bringing that history up to date. We have no idea how this can be done or if we have to wait for the 150th year for this immense task.

25  Mr David Robinson mentioned that the Board of Governors has approved converting all AES journals, pre-prints, etc into electronic form, and that the estimated cost will be 250 000 US$. (This does not include the anthologies since they are themselves reprints of articles so will be available as individual papers etc).

26  Mr Marshall Buck (AES Treasurer) said a few but important words for the AESHC members: before you commit money for a project, you must submit a budget -- no budget no money. Please be specific about the project for which you require a budget.


  • Decide with Mr Robert Van der Hilst if we should put this report on the reflector
  • Send a copy of this report to all participants in the Paris meeting, on their own e-mail; get all names right
  • Create a program for the meeting in Los Angeles
  • Decide if at the next conference papers should presented and ask opinion of the AESHC members about this project
  • Decide how long the AESHC meeting it LA should be (2 hours, or half a day, depending on the program developed on both sides of the Atlantic)
  • Require the name of a contact person to organize the AESHC meeting in a better way

Roberto Beppato, AESHC European Chair

Manfred Krause, AESHC European Secrecary

FOURTH DRAFT, jm 2000-08-08

AES - Audio Engineering Society