Wheatstone History

A History of Wheatstone Corporation

...as told by Andy Calvanese, Vice President of Wheatstone in charge of Technology

I’m probably uniquely qualified in the company to tell the story, because I’ve known Gary Snow and worked with him since before there was a Wheatstone. He and I used to work together in the same company at our day jobs and in the evenings maybe we’d get together and play a little music or, from time to time, we’d make a little box of some electronic goodie for somebody, and that’s how the company got started.

1990 DAMS 420

This is the year we came out with our large TV-500 console which was our foray into the large-scale television broadcast area. We also came out with this digital audio workstation that really wasn’t quite so good. It was called DAMS - “Digital Audio Music System” - an early hard disc audio playback system using Dolby compression. We paid $1,798 each for our 286M SCSI hard drives. They had 1/100 the capacity of a typical thumb drive you can buy today for under $10. The Dolby stereo codec cost $6,000. Needless to say the project was too early to be practical.

1991 SP4 420

In 1991, the combo production/on-air SP4 console series is introduced. Wheatstone’s TV-600 is shown for the first time and, the next year, wins the Broadcast Excellence in Engineering award.

In 1992 we introduced our A-6000 flagship radio console with all electronic switching.

In 1993 we brought out the A-300 Radio console and introduced our TS-500 - an early attempt at a talent station.This was totally analog; it could switch up to 8 sources and you had to hook up about 60 wires to make it work, but it did.

20 years later, we'd revolutionize the industry with tiny talent panels that need a single CAT6 cable to make them work.

1994 A6000 420

We had rapidly outgrown our previous building so we went into this new one, a 21,000 square footer that held our 58 employees. This was actually a building we designed and built ourselves, hired the contractors and were our own general contractor. Despite the turmoil, we were able to come out with our A-6000 console which won the Pick Hit award that year.

The weather is putting thoughts of the south in the back of our minds...

1995 D500 420

Our R-60 console, which was the next in line for Audioarts, was of major significance for us in that it was a surface mount design. It was the first piece of equipment we made using surface mount technology. We went and bought the machines and learned how to use them.

There’s a bit of a story there. Gary and I went to a trade show in Boston to look at some other kinds of equipment to use the old lead parts to build consoles with, because we had a lot of those; we couldn’t find any anywhere. So we went out to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant that night, and we looked at each other and said, “Are we at the wrong show? Where’s all this equipment?” And then the light bulb went off. Times have changed. People don’t use those anymore! So then and there we decided to buy surface mount. So that’s what he did.

That year was also the year we came out with our first digital console, the D-500. We had a very cool little ad at the time about “resistance is futile,” with a play on the Borg theme.

1996 SP8 420

This year saw the introduction of the R-5 Radio console, the SP-8 Production console for TV and the hiring on a fellow named Jay Tyler - otherwise known as Mini-Wheat.

1997 TV1000 420

Our TV-1000 was most complicated analog piece of equipment we ever made. It’s got a million op-amps on it and a countless number of resistors and capacitors. One of the reasons we bought the surface mount equipment that we bought is because it would measure the electrical properties of every single one of those components before it put it on the board. Because if you were trying to troubleshoot why does send 6 have a high frequency rolloff? With a product like that it would take you forever. Now the equipment we have makes it so that we never have those kinds of problems.

1998 NewBern 420

But, of course, the TV-1000 was very successful, so we had to move again, this time to New Bern. This was in 1998, you can see the whole crew out front. Gary’s even in that picture somewhere, hiding next to Jay, he’s got a hat on.

The TV-80 live television consoles is introduced at NAB as is the D-600 digital audio console (and it won every award there was to win).

1999 RD12 420

This was the year we came out with a digital console for Audioarts, our RD-12. And that same year we acquired Auditronics. I don’t know how many of you go back in broadcasting to that time, but they were a major competitor of ours, and we were able to buy them out!

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