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1982: A Model Year

The Delco-GM/Bose Music System

In 1982 I was looking for a rest (ha) and asked Dr. Bose for a sabattical. He said yes I could do that. but first he had a project for me and I could work only four days a week (ha ha).

What was the project: manage the introduction of the Delco-GM/Bose car stereo systems. I said yes and to myself said: 4 days a week, no way.

Why call on me, there was a whole marketing and advertising department. However, this one request reveals the relationship I had with Dr. Bose.

I have often said I ”knew” the man, and I did, but what it means is that I knew the spirit behind what he did and how he did it. I also knew I could not do what he did and observed something interesting. Most outsiders hired in marketing who did not know Dr. Bose as I did tried to prove they were smarter than he was and I knew that was impossible.

There are many different kinds of inventions. Some require research into the basic laws of physics. Some require asking the public what it wants. This in vention was of a different kind: it was recognizing an opportunity, in a way something quite simple, except that the potetial was spectacular.

The opportunity? Recognizing that the acoustics of an automobile, unlike those of a home, were the same for each model of the car. Plus, unlike the home, the listeners sat is exctly the same place every time and so the two biggest problems of sound reproduction were gone. Brilliant? Yea.

However taking advantage of this required solving two other problems: A car manufacture willing to let you tamper the the design of each model automobile prior to its introduction and designing a sound system to work in the automobile environment.

I don‘t know how it came about, but Dr. Bose struck up a very positive relatioship with the man in charge of the Delco Electroics division of General Motors, a man named Ed Zapor. GM was loaded with company politics and strict rules that any decision had to follow. But Mr. Zapor stood out from the crowd and Dr. Bose recognized. Mr. Zapor was his own man and that is what Dr. Bose needed.

I don’t know exactly what followed except that there was to be a meeting of Mr. Zapor and his senior staff qt Delco headquarters in Kokomo, Indiana and Dr. Bose would be making a presentation.

We had long ago learned that telling the story behind a new Bose venture was not easy. The technology and thinking behind them was sophisticated and usually ground-breaking. However, we had an ace-in-the-hole and his name was Bob Petrucci.

Bob had been making A/V shows that were brilliant info-mercials since the introduction of the 301 loudspeaker and I knew that my assignment to introduce this new venture would require a show by Bob.

So a meeting was scheduled, Bob began work on a show and I began thinking.

This was one presentation that had to be perfect, no chance for error, equipment failure or any other mishap. So my first decision was that I would go along and play technician and that the senior technician in Audio-Visual, Paul McKinley would be my partner. The second decision was that we would take two of everything and that meant a lot since the show would play over 901 speakers.

The short version of what followed was that a small bribe to an attendent at Logan airport got two station-wagons of equipment onto our flight, we set up in Delco’s elegant conference room. The presentation, including the show and an intoductary talk by Dr. Bose went off perfectly. And the Ed Zapor stood up to address his staff. He said the following: ”Nomslly for a large project I would meet with my staff and we would together decide what to do. In this case, I am not going to do that. Dr. Bose. We want to work with you.” And so was launched the Delco-GM Bose Music System along with a bet-your-company development challenge in the middle of a recession.

Below is a reproduction of our key advertising piece, a six-page fold up brochure. It illustrates what the system looked like.

General Motors was paying for the advertisijng so I choose 14 publications which required the printing of 9 million of these gate-folds. I was told it required two freight-cars full of paper.

The gate-fold had to be bound separately into every issue of every magazine and the intent was that the magazine fold open to the gate-fold. No chance that it be overlooked. So in the summer of 1982 we went on press, and all was fine, except that I had to repair the printing press so we could meet our schedule. But that is a story for another time.

Below: the introduction.

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