Dose of Kloss

August 27th, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

weeklossNosing about for contract technical writing still, I checked some of my clips and portfolio yesterday. Part of the mini-thrills for an alter kaker journeyman journo is finding totally forgotten pieces. One such was of electronics wizard Henry Kloss.

While dead for eight years, Kloss was a charming chap as well as driven innovator. I’d had a few interactions with him before the profile I wrote for Electronic Business 26 years ago.

WABAC notes: EB was a Boston-based Cahners maggy, moved with the company from Cahners Place in the South End to Newton Corner to sale to the UK Reed folk (by the bye the world’s largest toilet paper maker at the time) to dissolution with other trade books last year. While I usually took my own pix, the one with the article was by local photog Ted Fitzgerald (cropping above).

Other profiles and obits speak to Kloss’ visionary work in sound and TV. Few note that he willing sacrificed huge wealth for pretty big wealth. He got his joy from creating the new and best, not from making mass markets in the OK.

Otherwise, I think of NYC cabs and kittens when Henry comes to mind.

In the late 1960s, I was in college and living in Cambridge on a grant. I filled in cash flow with a couple of jobs, including making speakers by hand at his new Advent Corporation. They were damned good speakers.

He actually accidentally designed the new standard of stereo speakers. He was developing projection TV technology and just wanted cash flow for that from the speakers. He ended up vastly improving on his older KLH technologies and establishing new standards for sound. Also, he had a skunk works project going for a farther out ideal, 3D TV. The word in house was that he had one, with the drawback that you needed a radiation suit to sit in the room with it for any length of time. That never got to market.

Meanwhile at Avent had a huge room filled with QA women verifying woofer, tweeter and switch components. He gave them exacting standards. Then a small row of us assembled the speakers. I connected the wires for the controlling switches on the back, then piped glue and power stapled them to the panels. They were great speakers and I think each of us bought at least one set at employee prices.

My little value added here is first that he drove to work in his old, still functioning Checker. That’s the same clunky, sturdy gem that was the standard NYC taxi of the time. His current one was his first, a 1948 model.

That said a lot about what he expected and created. He wanted the best of its type. He expected it to last a long-time if not forever. He’d do what he thought his customers should, pay for good stuff.

Also, one day his wife showed up and cajoled us workers. Her way of dealing with an unexpected and unwanted litter of kittens was to squeeze employees. She appeared with a box of them and offered them. I heard at least one QA woman say she owed her job to the Klosses and felt obligated to take one, even though she neither wanted one nor particularly liked cats.

Together, the Klosses were epitomes of New England frugal.

I can’t say I begrudge him that at all. He turned his mindset into products we were happy to make. I recall years later living in New York City being at a dinner party where the hosts went on about how much they loved their stereo speakers. Peeking behind one of the big Advents, I was pleased to see that it was one of those I had made.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi,
    Thank you. I started reading your site a few weeks ago (thanks to Universal Hub) and have enjoyed it very much. Your site is now one of my daily reads. I was intrigued by your remarks on Tai Chi which I would like to learn but have no idea who or where to start.

  2. Harrumpher says:

    Well, from the look of your OrientSee site (very good eye for fauna and excellent one for flora by your pix), it appears we are the same age within months. I do recommend t’ai chi. It should be very useful following hip surgery as it is for my knee-to-ankle rod work.

    Some Y’s offer basic lessons (a taste), but Eastie’s doesn’t seem to have it. Brookline Tai Chi is pretty good, but less application oriented.The best in New England is likely Yang’s right across from the end of the Orange Line at Forest Hills.

    If you do it for health, you can practice it solo after you’ve learned a form. Push hands and interaction with other students is great but unnecessary. It is definitely a teach-a-man-to-fish practice.

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