I orginally posted this as a comment on Lee Distad's Blog about how some of our best and most endeared equipment were obtained for free or little more. You can see his original post here.
I have a few items which I obtained for little or nothing by being the one who took up the call to “Clean the #$%* inventory closet !” - it is one of the benefits and occupational hazards of the industry.
Still my most precious (sooo precious ) find was the Teac R1000 reel to reel tape deck. I worked as a groundskeeper and all around assistant fix it guy at a condominium complex in Southampton Long Island. I was only fifteen at the time and almost rejected it when the elderly gentleman offered it to me. The unit came with spare reels, classical music tapes and the amazingly five blank tapes (never used!). This was the beginning of my entry into AV of any sort. It took me hours to figure out to connect to my Realistic record player and amp. It took another few days for me to become familiar with all the features and how to record from a source.
None of the above would have set me on my path to a career in AV - it spurred an interest in better audio gear for sure but it took something more to grow an ember into a fire. If you are old enough you will recall that there was a time when people thought that backward masking was a subliminal tool that wrecked havoc on young minds, especially those who listened to the heavy metal genre.
AnYwAy! I wanted to figure out just what Prince was saying at the end of a song on the Purple Rain album -(yeah, I know Prince is not heavy metal and no, I cannot recall which song (Darling Nicki maybe?) ) - and I had a tool to do it. I had seen a segment on the local news about backward masking and the potential dangers (it must have been sweeps week) but I could not remember exactly what they did to make the words evident. I knew it had something to do with reversing the tape but the concept was new to me and took some conceptual thinking I had not used prior. When I finally got it right I was overjoyed, ecstatic actually. I wanted to know more and Radio Shack became a frequent stop for me, which lead to a tech school, college and a career.
What was the message from Prince? “Drink your Olvatin..” no, no that is the wrong secret message. Actually it was some prophecy nonsense that mixed the heeled one’s amorous topics and revelations. Come to think if it - it was about Ovaltine ....