Monday, January 03, 2005

Opelika plant closes


My friend Bob Kimmel (who has been a mover an shaker in the radio-tv biz for over 50 years...probably best known for his newscasting work for NBC) sent me this story:

Audio Tape snafus? Here's one for the books, embedded in an excerpted story from an Alabama newspaper about a magnetic tape plant closing:

Opelika plant closes

Tamiko Lowery
Staff Writer
Sunday, January 2, 2005

When they clocked out for the Christmas holidays, Quantegy employees planned on returning to work, as scheduled, Monday. But, there's no job to go back to - for some 250 employees.

"No Trespassing" signs were erected Friday afternoon and security passwords were changed at the Opelika plant, 2230 Marvyn Parkway.

"Quantegy, Inc. has ceased operations pending restructuring. This is due to financial issues that have plagued the industry and Quantegy for some time. All employees are on lay off pending further notice," according to a brief press release issued by the company Friday. The Opelika plant, once employed some 1,800 workers, has recently filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Almost 60 years ago, the story was different. "In 1945, after capturing several German 'Magnetophon' tape recorders from Radio Luxembourg, the American Signal Corps recorded a speech by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to be played to the people of occupied Germany. Due to a shortage of recording tape, the speech had to be recorded on a reel of used German tape.

Due to a problem with the German tape recorder, the tape was not completely erased and the voice of Adolph Hitler was intermittently heard along with Eisenhower's voice. This caused a great deal of fear and confusion among the German people and obviously a great deal of embarrassment for the Allied Signal Corps.

Gen. Eisenhower issued an immediate order that no more captured German tape was to be used and assigned Maj. John Herbert Orr to develop an American magnetic tape manufacturing facility.

Maj. Orr located a German scientist, Dr. Karl Pfleumer, who gave him a basic formula for magnetic tape. Within two weeks, Maj. Orr had managed to manufacture his first reels of usable audio tape. After returning to his home in Opelika, Alabama, Orr set up a magnetic tape manufacturing facility and soon afterwards began marketing his own tape under the "IRISH" brand name. Orr continued his manufacturing operation and in 1959, Orradio Industries became part of the Ampex Corporation.

Founded by Alexander M. Poniatoff, The Ampex Corporation had been developing audio tape recorders since the end of WWII starting with its model 200. The company's first sales of the Model 200 were to Bing Crosby Enterprises and the American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). In 1956, Ampex announced a historic breakthrough - the first practical video tape recorder..................etc.

No comments: