My organ teacher, Dr. Norman Wright, was retained as a consultant. Under his advice, the team sampled organ pipes alone and in combination from various area organs. These samples were analyzed and reduced to a simpler form for the diode array by realigning the phase of their harmonics (this is a bit too mathematical to explain here.)
There were also some demonstration recordings made on the spinet organ. I cannot recall the organists who made them all. I am certain Dr. Wright did a few.
The project did not progress smoothly. At several points, it was in danger of being canceled. My father recalled to during his last month that he had to go into the office on a Saturday (which was unthinkable for him) to argue with his bosses to keep the organ project funded. My father told them that they had to do something good for humanity - as opposed to their mainstream missiles and warplanes! His argument won the day and the project was allowed to continue.
Based on the recordings and North American’s reputation, my father arranged for about a dozen organ companies to visit Autonetics to try out the demonstrator. This is how my father first got to know many of his old friends in the organ industry. Unfortunately, most companies were not interested. This represented a huge change for the mostly small companies – and a huge risk. Also, these were, in general, not very technical people and the limited capability of the demonstrator probably discouraged them. The organ industry at this time was very healthy. There were many U.S. organ companies and the market was good. Only a handful of these companies really cared about the quality of the sound enough to consider such a risk.
In the end, it was Allen Organ Company that signed up to partner with North American.
During the process, someone from Rodgers tipped my father that there was a nice Rodgers organ for sale in San Francisco that he could get for a low price. He took the family on a San Francisco vacation. The organ was a Model 32B. It was a three-manual AGO concert organ. For some strange reason, it was in an organ store that sold only smaller organs – mostly spinets. I think it may have been returned. It had a problem. Rodgers organs of the time used diode switching logic so that a single electrical contact under each key could control many stops. Most contemporary organs (including Allen) used multiple key contacts – and these could cause problems in adjustment. Unfortunately, the batch of diodes Rodgers had bought to construct this organ were faulty. Though the organ was less than a year old, about 25% of the diodes had already malfunctioned, resulting in many dead notes. My father bought this very large organ for only $5,500 – a huge bargain, even considering he had to pay more to have it moved to Sherman Oaks. My father spent a few days soldering new diodes into place. Eventually I would learn to do this. This became my practice instrument. I took the 32B with me when I married and sold it to our synagogue when I replaced it in 1990 with Rodger’s first digital instrument. It worked perfectly then since nearly all the diodes had been replaced!
Of course, this was not North American’s main business line. They were best known then as the builders of the Apollo space capsule. Unfortunately, at about this time in 1967, the first Apollo capsule burned up during a test at Cape Canaveral, killing all three astronauts on board. This was a devastating blow to the company and its reputation. As a result, they ended up merging just two months later with Rockwell-Standard to become Rockwell International.
At some point my parents decided they needed a larger house. They did not want to move so they decided to add a recreation room. There was no logical place to add this room, so they simply had a door added behind their master suite and put the room in the backyard! I remember watching the contractor break through the wall.
They had hired a contractor to build the exterior walls and the roof. My father wanted to do the interior himself – probably both to save money and because he just liked doing everything himself. The room was 20’x30’. I helped him put up 100’ of wallboard, followed by an equal amount of finished plywood paneling. He let my best friend and I install the tile floor by ourselves. The hardest part of the project was staining the open beam ceiling. I helped my father stand on ladders and painstakingly finish the 600 square feet of ceiling. We then installed lighting, a baseboard heater, and a large window air conditioner.
The garage model railroad was transplanted into the new room. We also had a Ping-Pong table set up quite often. The furthest wall was for music. My father acquired a Conn 650 three-manual theater organ. It still sits in the far corner of the room.
My father was always a do-it-yourself person around the house. He hated hiring contractors and preferred to do all repairs himself. The rec room was only the biggest of these projects.
When our old dining room furniture was completely out-of-style, I helped my father refinish the entire set. We stripped all the old finish and applied an antique white and gold finish. We also refinished all the kitchen cabinets with walnut stain – including the shutters. This was a lot of work. The worst project I recall was replacing the double oven in the kitchen. My father purchased the new oven. I had to help him build cribbing from 2x4 lumber to slide out the old oven. We then dismantled the cribbing and started anew. After laying out a pair of 2x4s, we tilted the new oven up the cribbing. This took hours of very strenuous work. Finally, we had the oven raised to the level of the opening and we slid it into place.