Oklahoma City, OK (April 21, 2004)–The Professional Division of Altec Lansing Technologies recently got a blast from the past when the family of Elmer O. Wilschke, a 35-year employee of Western Electric, ERPI, Altec Service Corporation and Altec Lansing, gave an original model 515 fifteen-inch woofer back to the company as a historical donation.
Wilschke began his career with Western Electric in 1920. His career evolved through ERPI, Altec Service Corporation and Altec Lansing Corporation. During his tenure, he was responsible for the company’s 250 field engineers in the United States, and the installation and service of sound systems for over 6,000 motion picture cinemas. During a two-year stint in Europe, he trained 200 field engineers and oversaw the launching of Talking Pictures Europe. Wilschke rose to the position of general operating manager, where his responsibilities included the development and manufacture of anti-submarine sonobouys for the U.S. Navy during World War II. During his tenure, Altec Lansing developed the industry’s first Duplex speaker system in 1941 (the model 601), and the Oscar-winning Voice Of The Theatre cinema speakers.
At the conclusion of World War II, the employees of Altec Lansing presented Wilschke with a custom-built home stereo system, including a model 515 woofer in a custom-built cabinet. The cabinet and speaker were donated to Altec Lansing by Jim Wilschke, a resident of San Diego, CA and son of E.O.
When the speaker was received in Oklahoma City, Steve Upchurch, Altec’s technical services manager, carefully removed it from the carton. He was surprised to discover that there was only one small tear in the surround compliance. The speaker has since been reconed by Bill Hanuschak, owner of Great Plains Audio, in Oklahoma City. Great Plains Audio manufactures the original replacement parts for Altec Lansing’s catalog of speaker products (www.greatplainsaudio.com).
“Over the years and recent changes of ownership, most of Altec’s historical artifacts have been destroyed or thrown away by people who didn’t understand their significance to the history of our industry,” explained John Sexton, vice president of sales & marketing for Altec Lansing. “This gift from the Wilschke family is very significant in that it affirms both the quality of the products built under our corporate banner, and Altec’s legacy as an innovator in our industry.”
Jim Wilschke has fond memories of his father and his career at Altec Lansing, and added, “I know that dad was very proud of his association with Altec Lansing, and the great engineers and visionaries who built the audio industry. I’m sure he would want this speaker to be gifted back to the company that is continuing the Altec Lansing tradition.”