...as told by Andy Calvanese, Vice President of Wheatstone in charge of Technology
I’m probably uniquely qualified in the company to tell the story, because I’ve known Gary Snow and worked with him since before there was a Wheatstone. He and I used to work together in the same company at our day jobs and in the evenings maybe we’d get together and play a little music or, from time to time, we’d make a little box of some electronic goodie for somebody, and that’s how the company got started.
Gary Snow is a really unique guy for those of you that don’t know him. He’s very bright. He’s always been involved in music and technology, making specialized electronic repairs to guitar amps when he was still a teenager, and that’s really how he got started in the business. In the very early days he would hand-make individual pieces of equipment for folks. This is what we called a 3200. It’s simply a Bud box with some circuit boards in it and an engraved panel, and it became a parametric equalizer. I think we actually came out with parametric equalizers before Bob Orban did. That’s how it started.
In the evenings after work, one of his friends from Syracuse might, for instance, want something and he’d figure out how to make it for them, put it together and ship it. And it got so that he started doing that more and more that he decided to make THAT be his day job, so he started a company and he called it Audioarts. The first real product we made (where there was an actual product we would make BEFORE someone ordered it) was the 5200. It was originally designed to be a disco mixer because back in the early 70s, disco was big. We used to sell them to clubs all around the country.
Our ﬁrst console was built in 1976. It was called the 2000, but we shortened the name to 2K. It came in a handy little suitcase; you could carry it from gig to gig. I think Paul Picard used to have one of those with his bands in the early days. Pictured are myself and Kathy Snow. We showed the 2000 at AES and it got a LOT of attention. After that we started making a lot of sound reinforcement consoles and pro sound equipment. That was our early emphasis.
In 1980 our shop was a converted barn (we called it the Grey Barn) that had previously been turned into a residence, and it had a nice, big open area with some windows. This became our shop. Mike Shane had an apartment upstairs, so it was a kind of combination residence and shop. You can see how we worked in those days until it got too crowded and we had to move into a new building for the first time.
The company developed a very high-end custom sound reinforcement console dubbed “the Wheatstone Project” and subsequently incorporated as Wheatstone Corporation. Wheatstone acquires a 5,000 square foot building for its headquarters in Bethany, CT. That’s our crew in the new building, Christmas 1981.