By Keith Clark
Editor’s Note: This article was written in the early 2000s.
So just how does one neatly summarize the history of a company that’s contributed a steady stream of advancements that have helped form an industry over the course of more than 70 years?
The answer comes largely from the people who have created the company’s story; in this case, Electro-Voice (EV), which on July 1 of this year marked its 71st anniversary.
As part of my research for this project, I interviewed Jim Long, who’s been with EV for nearly 40 years. Many of you probably know Jim, an industry ambassador still hard at work providing educational training on behalf of Telex, EV’s parent company. I had the pleasure of working for Jim many years ago and count the experience as one of the high points of my pro audio career.
Following our conversation, which took place at the B&W Tavern in downtown Buchanan, MI – a long-time lunch and after-hours haunt for EV staffers (present company included), Jim and I headed “up the hill” to EV’s headquarters, now pretty much deserted with the transfer of most operations (except production) to Telex HQ in suburban Minneapolis.
While he works mostly from home these days, Jim retains his old office, which looks remarkably the same as it did more than a decade ago, a fascinating mix of old spec binders, documentation and a collection of audio “gizmos” (some rather ancient and obscure) that he’s acquired over the ages.
While we sorted through some historic docs and photos he’s still got on hand, Jim handed me a treasure – a history and status report on the company written in 1953 by EV founder Al Kahn. This document, which we’re thrilled to present in its entirety here, provides a rare glimpse into EV’s formative stages as well as a fascinating business model and strategies of that era.
Thus between Mr. Kahn and Mr. Long, we’re able to let the story of EV be told by its people, covering the life span of the company to its current state. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the numerous milestones that have occurred over the course of more than seven decades.
A bit later, I spent almost an entire day sifting through the company’s considerable archives, housed at Telex in Minneapolis and still in reasonably good shape, to acquire more details. It was thrilling to see the care still given to this historical treasure trove despite the move – Jim, I and countless others strove to maintain, organize and add to these materials for future generations.
It’s interesting to note that EV, almost from its inception, has been a leader in the development of microphone technology. It’s safe to say that for a good amount of time – the 1940s through the early 1970s – EV dominated the broadcast, film production, studio and live markets. Along the way, other significant efforts were made in consumer audio and military markets, and their work in the latter, in particular, is impressive in scope and achievement.
At the same time, the company’s other pro audio product lines – loudspeakers and electronics – really weren’t a focus until the 1970s. Kind of amazing when you consider the impact some of these products have had in a relatively short timeframe.
So let’s enjoy a look at one of the significant organizations of the pro audio industry, and collectively wish them another successful 70 years and beyond.