Duca-Richardson Production Switcher Redux

I told a story about Jim Duca and his flying Fluke in a previous post.  Recalling the pleasant evening Bob and I spent with Jim as he tweaked our new switcher made me wonder about the history of the Duca-Richardson Corporation.  We knew that we had purchased an early model.  Could we have purchased Serial Number 1?  The answer is “no”.  But close.  I tracked Jim down and sent him an email asking him if he could tell me a little about his recollection (if any) of our University of Maryland purchase after all these years.  Jim is a very gracious person, and penned a story about how he came to start the Duca-Richardson Corporation.  He has allowed me to post it here.  The story speaks volumes about American ingenuity, and the value/effect of small business in our economy.  Here are Jim’s comments about a very interesting time in his life, and about a product that helped move RTVF closer to our desire to be in line with the industry of the times.

Jim Duca:

“For a long time I had wanted to have my own company to build broadcast products that I felt offered more capabilities and at a much more favorable price than was currently available. I had two of the ingredients needed to do so, an empty basement and a willing partner to take care of the business end of the venture. That was Bob Richardson, the “R” in DRC. So with blind enthusiasm I began to design and develop broadcast switching equipment. Our first customer was a local television station who saw our first prototype product in our small booth at NAB. That was the good news …the bad news was that he wanted the largest switcher in our catalog, one that we had not yet envisioned would be the first out of the pipeline. None the less, it was time to move out of the basement and into a facility in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, large enough to accomplish our mission. That brings us to the University of Maryland’s order, it must have been only about serial number 5 or 6 as I recall. Now I had a few engineers to help design in the features specific to each customer and it seemed that each order was still unique. What I didn’t have was a Service Department to take care of the installations, so I did that part myself. I would schedule the installation to occur on a weekend so could be “in and out” and be back in the office on Monday. You do these things when you get started in business, besides we were grateful for our customers and with a small staff it didn’t seem unusual to be involved in all aspects of the operation. Besides it gave us good feedback on product reliability. We fortunately continued to be successful and after about a year, we were approached by the Ampex Corp. to supply switching products that they in turn would market. Before that even got started they wanted us to label our products with the Ampex name, but before even that happened they decided to buy the company outright, so that was the last of DRC. The University of Maryland was unique in the fact they had one of the few switchers labeled “DRC.” “

THANKS Jim, for a most interesting contribution to the tech history of RTVF.

3 thoughts on “Duca-Richardson Production Switcher Redux

  1. I just ran across a Duca-Richardson Production Switcher still tagged with the DRC label. I am interested in knowing if it has any historical value. I am unsure of the model, but have a picture of it. Do you have any idea who I could approach about it’s historical value?

  2. Ryan, I don’t know if the Switcher has any historical value. Hopefully, you’ll get some suggestions from this post.

  3. I worked as a technician at the Wheatridge Ampex facility in the late 70’s through June of 81. Great people and great memories!

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