RARE VINTAGE AUDIONICS OF OREGON SPACE & IMAGE COMPOSER QUAD DECODER UNIT

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Marcsten

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Its really a credit to the tiny company that produced these things that so many survive in good order after so many years! Congrats on getting another one running. As to the numbers, Steve Kennedy said they produced 300 Composers all numbered in order from 12,001 through 12,300. Mine is 12,116, and Steve confirmed that meant it was number 116 produced. Mine has the earlier chips from National semiconductor, which had the flaw requiring the workaround. Assuming its in good order you should not have any issues with that, and I have a really hard time telling the difference between mine and the later chips. The earlier ones like mine seem to 'work' more than the later ones, but its very subtle. I have always loved mine and have always been more than satisfied. Given that yours are both in the first half of the 300, I believe yours are both National Semiconductors with the workaround, although I have never been 100% clear on where the line was drawn, so take it for what its worth. I think its 50/50 but again, I didn't work for Audionics so I am not able to say for certain. Steve could tell you, probably, although her told me there is a lot of confusion as the company was not good about keeping records. He said there has even been some confusion about how many units were produced, although he said with confidence it is 300.
Found one of Steve's emails from 2016. Here is an excerpt.

"The first chips (National Semiconductor) and the last chips (Exar Systems) both required a special interface due to errors National made in creating the original chips. Exar took some National Tate chips apart and put them under the microscope and discovered some of the worst errors then made their own copies of an "improved" chip with the worst of the National problems bypassed. They still weren't as they should have been but they worked better and smoother in what was essentially the same circuit.
We did serialize them individually as they were built (in order). "300" is the working number of Composers that were produced. All of the confusion caused by the chip upgrades and lack of surviving production records have resulted in confusion regarding the number of Composers that were made."
 

furui_suterioo

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Found one of Steve's emails from 2016. Here is an excerpt.

"The first chips (National Semiconductor) and the last chips (Exar Systems) both required a special interface due to errors National made in creating the original chips. Exar took some National Tate chips apart and put them under the microscope and discovered some of the worst errors then made their own copies of an "improved" chip with the worst of the National problems bypassed. They still weren't as they should have been but they worked better and smoother in what was essentially the same circuit.
We did serialize them individually as they were built (in order). "300" is the working number of Composers that were produced. All of the confusion caused by the chip upgrades and lack of surviving production records have resulted in confusion regarding the number of Composers that were made."
The extremely beat up one with the Exar chips mentioned on this thread has serial number 17024. Mine is 12207 and has the National chips, but was configured for use with the external remote control(which I don't have unfortunately), definitely confusing. I'm guessing that not very many of them had the Exar chips without having been upgraded.
 

Owen Smith

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The extremely beat up one with the Exar chips mentioned on this thread has serial number 17024. Mine is 12207 and has the National chips, but was configured for use with the external remote control(which I don't have unfortunately), definitely confusing. I'm guessing that not very many of them had the Exar chips without having been upgraded.
17024 makes no sense as a serial number, they're supposed to be between 12001 and 12300.
 

par4ken

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17024 makes no sense as a serial number, they're supposed to be between 12001 and 12300.
17024 makes no sense unless (perhaps), some units were rechipped with the Exar chips. I don't know how they did that unless the entire board was replaced as the two boards are slightly different to accommodate the different chips. If that was done maybe the serial was changed from 12024 to 17024????
 

Wagonmaster_91

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Mine are 12178 & 12214. I'll have to open up this new one to see if I can tell what the chips are. I'm not going to worry about the one in my system ((12178). Too much trouble to pull out and it is working fine. (Yeah, lazy...)
Update: I just remembered that I have pics of my first one. The detector chip and board looks just like the one in your picture in post #59.
 
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Marcsten

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17024 makes no sense unless (perhaps), some units were rechipped with the Exar chips. I don't know how they did that unless the entire board was replaced as the two boards are slightly different to accommodate the different chips. If that was done maybe the serial was changed from 12024 to 17024????
I thought the same thing. Re-reading Steve's email he said they were all numbered in 'Serial' which I took to mean they went 001 - 300. But he didn't say that. You know when you assume. Perhaps the Exars had a different number? There's some sense to that although I have never heard that. Anyone out there who knows they have a later Composer who can check their number?
 

par4ken

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I thought the same thing. Re-reading Steve's email he said they were all numbered in 'Serial' which I took to mean they went 001 - 300. But he didn't say that. You know when you assume. Perhaps the Exars had a different number? There's some sense to that although I have never heard that. Anyone out there who knows they have a later Composer who can check their number?
No, the Exars still had 12xxx numbers, I was suggesting that (just maybe) that unit started out as 12024 was sent in for a chip upgrade, had the board replaced rather than simply adding a daughter board. Then the number change to indicate that fact.
 

Marcsten

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That would seem to indicate that at least 318 were made!
or they were not all serial. Steve does say there is confusion as to the actual number built. Seems to me they would keep building them until they ran out of chips. but he seemed pretty confident that 300 was the number 'produced'. That said, our conversation was in 2016, and production was in 1979.
 

par4ken

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or they were not all serial. Steve does say there is confusion as to the actual number built. Seems to me they would keep building them until they ran out of chips. but he seemed pretty confident that 300 was the number 'produced'. That said, our conversation was in 2016, and production was in 1979.
Is Steve still around, he hasn't posted in a very long time? He could shed some light on the serial number issue. Anyone else have a 17000 series numbered decoder?
 

Marcsten

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No, the Exars still had 12xxx numbers, I was suggesting that (just maybe) that unit started out as 12024 was sent in for a chip upgrade, had the board replaced rather than simply adding a daughter board. Then the number change to indicate that fact.
Did Audionics have a program where if you had a National Semicondutor model you could return it and get re-chipped?
Is Steve still around, he hasn't posted in a very long time? He could shed some light on the serial number issue. Anyone else have a 17000 series numbered decoder?
Its been a few years since we communicated, but I just emailed Steve. It didn't bounce, which is encouraging. I will let you know if I hear from him. He has always been really great about responding in the past. We will see.
 

par4ken

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Did Audionics have a program where if you had a National Semicondutor model you could return it and get re-chipped?
I don't know, but I do know that some were returned to be rechipped. It might of even been Steve in one of his posts that mentioned (as I recall) that about half of the National units were returned for rechipping.
 

Marcsten

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Did Audionics have a program where if you had a National Semicondutor model you could return it and get re-chipped?

Its been a few years since we communicated, but I just emailed Steve. It didn't bounce, which is encouraging. I will let you know if I hear from him. He has always been really great about responding in the past. We will see.
Steve responded to my email! Once again, if he is reading this, i really am so grateful to have become acquainted with him. He is such a great guy for putting up with the intrusion and responding to my questions. Here is the relevant part of his email regarding the two questionable numbers, the one that isn't a 12000 number and the one that is 12312.
First he is referring to the one that does not start with 12000.

"The serial number is a legitimate Audionics serial number tag but it looks
as though someone used a label that was destined to be used on a different
Audionics product. I don't remember what product used that series but
it looks identical to the labels we used so it appears to be legit, just from another Audionics product. People who worked at the Audionics factory may have procured
"special" serial labels for their own personal units (like that "312" unit)."

So there you go. According to Steve all the production units were the 300 starting at 12001. Units with a different number were probably snatched by employees and given different numbers so as to not be confused with the production units.
 

Marcsten

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So what’s this all mean for my unit 12154? Should I carefully open it up and take some more pics? Anyone keen to make me “an offer I can’t refuse?”
What are you trying to find out? It means that its unit 154 out of 300 (ish), probably a National Semiconductor modified chip unit, not the exar modified chip unit, although it would be around the time of the changeover and no one knows for sure exactly when that happened.
 
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