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McIntosh Engineering Labs

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McIntosh Engineering Labs

McIntosh Engineering Labs, Inc., a longtime innovator of amplifiers, was founded by Frank H. McIntosh.

The seeds of McIntosh Engineering Labs were planted in 1942 when Frank McIntosh opened a small firm near Washington, D.C to consult on designing radio stations and sound systems. Dissatisfied with the quality of the audio amplifiers then available, McIntosh decided to invent one that provided high power with low distortion. In 1946, McIntosh hired Gordon Gow, a brilliant, young engineer, to assist him in making his idea a reality. The amplifier they produced was named the McIntosh 50W1 Unity Coupled Amplifier. It could deliver 50 watts of power at less than 1% distortion from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. McIntosh, the amplifier company, was born.

It took several years, however, for the company to settle on a name and a home. What began as McIntosh and Ingles Consulting Firm was changed to McIntosh Scientific Laboratory in 1947. In 1949 the company was incorporated and the name changed to McIntosh Engineering Laboratory and relocated from Washington, D.C. to Silver Spring, Maryland. In 1951 the name changed once again, to McIntosh Engineering Labs, Inc., perhaps to celebrate yet another move, this time to Binghamton, New York, where it has remained ever since.

McIntosh has been a consistent innovator in the field of amplification since its founding. One of its greatest achievements was the 1967 introduction of the MC2505. The MC2505 was the first separate solid state power amplifier made by McIntosh. This amplifier was a major step in amplifier history and introduced many features still used in amplifiers today. It was the first amplifier to have an all-glass front panel, panloc mounting, illuminated output level meters, Sentry Monitor circuitry and autoformers. The MC2505 autoformers were a new concept in the history of McIntosh transformer design.

In addition to producing standout amplifiers, Frank McIntosh created a standout company, which he ran more like a family business than a major corporation. Many employees who were there at the founding of McIntosh stayed on until their retirement and Frank McIntosh was a man who valued his employees so much he paid them to quit smoking.

Frank McIntosh retired in 1977. Gordon Gow, who joined as the first “employee” of McIntosh in 1946, replaced him as CEO. McIntosh passed away in 1990, the same year that Clarion, a Japanese car audio equipment company, bought McIntosh. Today the McIntosh brand is still associated with cutting-edge, top of the line amplifiers and loudspeakers.