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 Post subject: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 1:45 am 
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Perhaps this is common knowledge but I'm new enough to the hobby that this was news to me. I have a mint 30-page 1929 Atwater Kent catalog covering Models 55, 60, 61, 66, and 67. Below is the center section of the catalog stating their Philadelphia factory was the largest radio factory in the world with 32 acres under roof! Wikipedia states that in 1929 they employed 12,000+ and manufactured 1,000,000+ radios. Wow, impressive numbers!

Dennis


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 2:22 am 
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I wonder why they went under during the depression. Probably could not make a radio to meet the price point of a cheap Philco or something that more people could afford, then. I suppose they were all premium radios and the market for top end stuff withered.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 2:28 am 
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"The owner, Mr. Kent, released a letter shortly after the crash to assure suppliers and dealers that the company was not invested in the stock market and was on firm ground. By now his 15 acre radio factory had grown to more than 30 acres. He had disdain for the concept of paying royalties to use a competitor’s (RCA) circuit. He also refused to compromise and produce what he referred to as "cheap, low quality radios." He continued to try and sell "Cadillac" radios in a "Volkswagen" market. His plant closed in 1936, putting thousands out of work in Philadelphia."
http://www.wshu.org/post/radio-great-de ... i#stream/0

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 2:39 am 
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Mr. Kent's letter of 31 Oct 1929 is shown and quoted in its entirety on this page (scroll down):
http://www.atwaterkent.info/akHistory.html

- Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 3:16 am 
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wazz wrote:
I wonder why they went under during the depression. Probably could not make a radio to meet the price point of a cheap Philco or something that more people could afford, then. I suppose they were all premium radios and the market for top end stuff withered.


Atwater Kent didn't "Go Under" as to speak. It was solely Mr. Kent's decision to close the doors.

He didn't want to cheapen his radios, and as his employees threatened to strike, he decided to just close down.
He made his fortune, and was ready for the next chapter of his life.

-Steve

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 5:13 am 
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Atwater Kent, like all radio manufacturers, was suffering from the economic depression. At the time it closed employment was down to only about 800 employees from what I've read.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 5:35 am 
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atwaterkent1 wrote:
Atwater Kent, like all radio manufacturers, was suffering from the economic depression. At the time it closed employment was down to only about 800 employees from what I've read.
Hi Dan,

That's the same letter that appears on my History page.

It was dated 7 years before Kent closed his factory.

- Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 5:39 am 
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I believe I have miss-information, I had thought that union organizing played a role in A-K shutting down too?

Chas

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 5:41 am 
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Chas, yes, it did.

-Steve

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 9:18 am 
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Just interesting how things fade into the past once people who lived through it are no longer around. There are so many lessons to be learned by one of the most successful radio companies closing their doors at their high point, yet no one ever thinks about it or try to apply those lessons to today. Maybe there are others here old enough to verify it, but I'm guessing back in the 50's and 60's it was still relatively fresh in people's minds, as with other similar events from those days in the 30's.

There are some modern equivalents today that are fresh in our minds still, but I just imagine about all the information that is lost from those days around what really happened and why. Interesting to think about, similar to how I imagine people experienced WW2 with these radios. Some amazing times in this country/world back then. Wish I had a time machine to get a front row seat in seeing it for myself.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 4:18 pm 
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No disrespect intended Radios, but Atwater Kent was years past it's high point and had already laid off the vast majority of its employees when the company closed. From my extensive reading about the company its clear the economy and mistakes made in what kind of radios customers would buy (as wazz posted) that doomed the company.

Unions - I don't think the union thing was a major contributor, but maybe a minor factor in the decision.

Hi Leigh - That's where I stole it from! :lol: I blew it up but it came out fuzzy. Do you have a clear full size photo of the letter? I'd love to add that to my collection.

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Last edited by atwaterkent1 on Feb Sun 10, 2019 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 5:03 pm 
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Thanks Dan, I wasn't there, so didn't know... I just sit around thinking about these things and wondering about them and the people of the time. As close to time travel as I'm going to get is in my head using the limited information I got.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 10:44 pm 
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Just two cents worth. After the war, people were curbing Atwater Kent
radios, at least on the streets my brother had his paper route. And we were dragging
them home on sleighs in the winter after dark.

Neat parts and tubes sources in time where money just wasn't taken for granted.

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I think that meant that the sets were used in the 39- 45 era, when new radios
couldn't be had in Canada. If the radios didn't work, they would have been scooped up
in the scrap metal drives.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 10:54 pm 
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easyrider8 wrote:
He had disdain for the concept of paying royalties to use a competitor’s (RCA) circuit.

I'm not familiar with the brand. Did AK make Superheterodyne circuit radios?

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Sun 10, 2019 11:06 pm 
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fifties wrote:
Did AK make Superheterodyne circuit radios?
Yes.

- Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Mon 11, 2019 6:36 am 
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Digging around in RMorg, the first Atwater Kent model with a superhet chassis is listed as the H-1 chassis in the model 72 radio, in 1930.

After 1931, no TRFs are listed at all... All the models are superhets. So Atwater Kent was obviously paying the royalties... it just continued to irritate ol' Atwater's sensibilities, apparently.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Mon 11, 2019 2:08 pm 
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Quote:
He didn't want to cheapen his radios,


It could have been that he couldn't cheapen his radios; with that big infrastructure (loans, labor, debt service, inventory costs etc) he probably could not continue to make a profit with lower margins, and perhaps the sudden dip in sales in 29-30 had already taken a serious bite out of cash flow.

Interesting that the factory complex is still there, and the "Kent" smokestack.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Mon 11, 2019 3:00 pm 
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Old Atwater didn't believe in borrowing, as his letter states, the company owed no one. He was also getting on in years, that may have played the biggest factor in his decision to shut down. He had a fortune and wanted to keep it, so it made sense to close the factory with the economy so bad.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Mon 11, 2019 3:17 pm 
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Not very often do you see such a large company like Atwater Kent solely owned by one man.

No debts, no stocks, no board of directors. Quite amazing! :D

-Steve

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Fact about the Atwater Kent Factory
PostPosted: Feb Mon 11, 2019 10:45 pm 
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atwaterkent1 wrote:
Old Atwater didn't believe in borrowing, as his letter states, the company owed no one. He was also getting on in years, that may have played the biggest factor in his decision to shut down. He had a fortune and wanted to keep it, so it made sense to close the factory with the economy so bad.

He was only in his 50's at that time, so maybe not the age factor as motivation so much as the tanked economy.

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