Weird Old Stereo Accessories

Some people trick out their cars. Some, their computers. There are even people who max out their audio systems, although back in 1979, there was more of that going on, probably, than today where you discresionary income is split so many ways. Case in point: [Alan Cross] remembers how excited he was to get the Radio Shack catalog that year. He was working at a grocery store, saved his money, and — over time — picked up a haul ranging from an equalizer to a strobe light.

Who didn’t need a power meter or a “light organ?” These gadgets seem cheap until you realize it was 1979 and [Alan] was a student working at a grocery store. He points out that the $20 power meter is about the same as $80 today.

Not that he got everything he wanted back then, either. He also wanted an Atari light synthesizer known as the C240. This oddball device converted sound from your stereo into video patterns on your TV. What did that look like? An old video from [World One Video] shows it off:

If you could find one in 1977, the $170 price tag might have put you off.

There are other gadgets to explore. A tiny TV/oscilloscope, an audio expander, and quite a few other period gizmos.

We are suckers for old tech around here, although usually towards electronic hobby gadgets. Not that we didn’t take an interest in mobile record players or 8-track scanners.

25 thoughts on “Weird Old Stereo Accessories

      1. Ofcourse Techmoan did a video on one.

        I like him. Bit geeky about weird stuff barely anyone cares about but he’s always talking in a passionate way and that just makes it fun to watch. I like his passion for vfd displays.

    1. Spent way too many hours bumbling around in some of the visualizer setting and rolling a song again. Had quite a few happy settings saved to floppies at one time. I probably should look around for them and transfer to something newer

  1. In high school electronics, when we all had a crack at ordering a kit from the Graymark catalog, the light-organ was popular. My friend ordered one; we scored a piece of broken diffuser from a fluorescent fixture, put some Xmas lights behind it… cue the Pink Floyd.

    Heathkit made a stereo expander in the 70s. Basicall,y it increased the apparent dynamics of the audio by pushing peaks higher. Impressive on good orchestral recordings. It would be about useless now with streamed pop mush.

  2. Perhaps I’m spoiled, but I can’t imagine being able to endure this for more than 30 seconds even back when it was impressive technology.

    That said, the diamond pattern does give the effect of a bunch of tessellated cartoon birds singing during vocal parts, which is kina fun.

  3. I never had any kind of light organ for my stereo, but I remember having an Apple II program that did pretty much the same thing. I’d have to partially insert the connecting jack into my cassette player so that the music would be fed into the cassette input of the Apple without cutting out the speaker on the cassette player.

    The less-than-common stereo add-on that I had was an Audio Pulse Model One digital time-delay unit, which is still sitting in my garage.

  4. The video almost killed my eyes AND my ears after a few seconds.

    If you want real visual effects, get an oscilloscope in XY and feed it with some Kraftwerk tunes…

  5. When I was about 13, I took an old dead black and white 19″ TV apart and took the deflector coils off the yoke. I had a similar 19″ set that wasn’t dead dead, it had a dot in the center or the screen. I removed the original deflection coils and taped them up, but left them electrically connected. I took my salvaged coils and hooked up speaker wire to horizontal and vertical, slipped them up onto the yoke. Then, I hooked up the coils via the speaker wire to my stereo. It was black and white but the patterns it drew were pretty cool.

  6. Seems like there was a project involving a crt TV and an extra deflection yoke. Back in a late 70’s or early 80’s electronics magazine.
    I belive the said you needed to leave the TV intact with a deflection yoke connected to it. Then a yoke on the tube neck was hooked to a stereo amplifier circuit which drove the deflection horizontal and vertical via left, right channels.

    I also knew a guy who replaced the seat backs in his car with diffuser panels off of flourecent light fixtures and installed the color organ lights inside the seat backs, behind the panels. Yes it was a 70’s thing.

  7. There have been so many projects for this sort of thing over the years, I guess inspired by this product, I can recall them in ETI mag, Elektor and I think even Everyday Electronics ran one.

    They’re really quite simple when you break them down but lots of fun and I’ve seen variants used in clubs, ice rinks and even shop displays over the years.

    I get the feeling they’d not be as much fun on LCD/TFT displays.

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