This blog was created for USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion Army personnel who served in Taiwan during the 1965-72 time frame. Specifically, those who lived and worked in and around Taipei are the target. If you worked at the Grass Mountain or Gold Mountain facilities or anywhere in downtown Taipei, we would like to hear from you. All are welcome to visit and contribute to this blog. Your comments and pictures are encouraged.

Monday, April 18, 2011

PX Gravity

After showing our IDs to the sour lady who sat right at the entrance to the PX, I would automatically turn left and head to the stereo section. My wife knew where to find me when she was ready to leave.

Other than to see the newest stereo component equipment, there was no other rational reason for me to go there every time.

My first component system was only a couple of years old and why would another system be needed or wanted? At least that is what was going through my mind for about a year.

Bought in 1966 from Allied Electronics in Chicago was a Knight amplifier, Knight tuner, and Garrard turntable with an elliptical Empire or Pickering stylus and cartridge.

Then came two Utah floor speakers with 12 inch woofers, a couple of tweeters and a baffle at the bottom for the low sound to escape from these bass reflex speakers.

Couple that with a nifty pair of headphones from an Olson Electronics store, and I was in business.

Still, my trek to the stereo section continued, checking out the receivers, reel-to-reel tape decks and Scotch 111 tape.

Finally in the summer of 1969, the impulse wouldn't go away, and out came the checkbook and trips to the APO to ship home my new stuff.

Did anyone else subscribe to Hi Fi/Stereo Review which became Stereo Review in 1968?

Once you bought the first catalog and placed an order, Allied would send them frequently. I studied every Ohm, Watt and MRS as though it were a final exam prep.

And here is the heart of my second stereo system. It's the Sansui 5000, which had a hefty price tag, even for then.

There was a Sansui 2000 or 3000, but if you are losing your economic senses, why not go big?  Besides, it was powerful and could easily handle 4 speakers.

Around the end of the 1960s, FM, which long was the home for classical and easy listening music, increasingly became the home for rock music which eliminated the need to find a station from which to record in stereo.

Every feature of this receiver could be described in detail, but doesn't it look beautiful? It was analog, but tuning was a breeze. Using a TV splitter, one could easily run a 300 ohm line into the receiver. Hello, radio world! 

My ultimate goal was to someday afford a Marantz or McIntosh receiver. But for the next 25 years, this was it. And, it was only in the shop for repairs once. At first, I would switch out the 2 stereo systems every 6 months, but ultimately, this was THE one.

An easier decision was this inexpensive Pioneer PL 25. It came with its own cartridge and stylus and had that nice hinged dust cover.

Guys I would talk with pointed out that it was belt driven, compared to the Garrards, which had gears. That was never a problem for us. It's still under one of our beds.

This SONY TC 355 was also an easy choice as it was an inexpensive model with decent ratings. Other guys were buying the tall and wide TEAC, but this buy turned out to be a good one. We still have it, collecting dust along with the turntable.

The Scotch 111 recording tape for these reel-to-reels would sell out quickly after a shipment came in. Later I found out that guys were recording Chinese albums or parts of them and throwing away the $ 0.30 records.

I just found 3 boxes of Scotch 111 tape. Inside each one is a list of artists and songs. My favorite was THIS.  It could rattle some walls.Tech Control would patch into AFNT-AM and then shove a little speaker into tape relay for us to listen to during the midnight shift.

This isn't the kit that was bought, but it's close to our Pioneer speaker kits. Later on, the enclosures were built. But first of all the arrangement of the 12 inch woofer, 6 inch mid- range, 2 tweeters and one super tweeter had to be figured.

They were acoustic suspension speakers, which essentially meant that no air could enter either speaker. That resulted in purer sound, but no thumping, glass-shattering bass. 

Here is the entire system on display. The SONY reel-to-reel is above the left speaker. There are a couple of cassette tape decks plugged into the Sansui. This looks like sometime in the late 1980s.

There's an end to my ramblings. We had an auction before we moved down here, and a rainstorm hit near the end of it. This happened before the stereo stuff came up for sale.

Most people left, but one guy was hanging around all afternoon. He walked off with the Sansui, Knight amp, Knight tuner, a casette deck and 4 floor speakers for $100.


  1. I bought my first component set from Allied Radio. Couldn't tell you exactly what I got, but I know it was a mid-range set that was still quite capable of driving the neighbors crazy. I think my son still has it.

    Wasn't Allied eventually bought by Radio Shack?

  2. Correct as usual, Don. Radio Shack sold its stereo equipment under the Realistic brand.