Projection Page


John Eickhof has at the ACE theatre in Wendell, Idaho:
Powers 6B projector
Western Electric 1A 1927 Film/disc projector

Model 600?
John Eickhof says that they are "low intensity" reflector carbon arc lamps. Top of the line.

Conflicting info from John Eickhof: He says that it is the Brenkert "Brenograph" double dissolving special effects / slide projector - unknown model number, BUT, he goes on to say that it was replaced "in the mid 1920s with the deluxe Brenkert F-7 Master "Brenograph" Made by the Brenkert Light Projection Company (BLCP) of Detriot, Michigan. Founded in 1907. Company made Spot lamps, lantern slide projectors, stereopticons, effects projectors up until 1939. Began making arc lamps for projectors in 1929, and its first projectors (BX-80) in 1939. Purchased in 1945 by RCA and folded in 1954.


The Academy's Richard O. Bartel Collection has You Tube Video showing the operation of base, shown by Acad Head Projectionist Marshall Gitlitz:


F. H. Richardson, in the November 8, 1930 issue of exhibitor's Herald-World, writes that:
1. The IA were having a convention in 1930, and that local 150 had a President at that time named Earl Hamilton
2. Head Projectionist Fred E, Weaver, was inventor of the Weaver Douser.

"The projection room is rather crowded with equipment. It has three Super Simplex projectors equipped with the new Ashcraft "600" super-high intensity lamps. The lamphouse almost hides the projector. The sound is handled by Western Electric equipment. The sound is on a separate film, which is run on a "dummy." The consensus of the Chinese theatre projection staff and those projectionists of other theatres in which this method is used, is that it is a decided improvment on the method in which both the sound and the picture are reproduced from the one film, which opinion I endorse.

"The projection staff of the Chinese consists of:
F(red) E. Weaver, chief
R. D. Babcock
Dave Koskoff
Al Lick and
Art Schroeder
I might add, as a bit of interesting information, that the projectors are equipped with a small blower fan from which the air is conveyed through a flexible metal pipe ending at the top of the cooling plate, where the air passes down over the aperture. In the opinion of Chief Projectionist Weaver, this has the effect of removing fully 75 per cent of the heat. The installation is very simple, not at all costly and is highly effective. Some of you old department fans may remember that this particular thing was recommended by me many times in past years. Equipment manufacturers, however, did not adopt the suggestion, and as a result they have suffered great inconvenience from the warping of projector frames and parts, and the industry has sustained huge losses in film, to say nothing of the box-office losses caused by injury to the shows as a result of buckled film, all of which might easily have been averted had my suggestions been heeded years ago."




Here is some yah-yah about the history of Western Electric as it relates to loudspeakers:



Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the telephone in Boston. 1931 Western Electric built, and ERPI installed, the first three-way wide-range loudspeakers in theaters, with four 18" cone loudspeakers on 4' by 8' baffle, two 15' long, wooden, exponential horns with 555W drivers, and 596 tweeter. ERPI held training classes for projectionists in new talkie equipment.
1889 Thomas Edison gave laboratory demonstrations of talking motion pictures, using a wax cylinder recorder synchronized to film.
1906 Lee de Forest demonstrated triode amplifying tube.
1935 Western Electric introduced the Mirrophonic Sound System, whose loudspeakers introduced multicellular horns to multi-way loudspeaker systems.
1913 Edison toured U.S. with Kinetophone talking picture apparatus.
1924 Research group moved from Western Electric in Chicago to newly-formed Bell Laboratories in Manhattan.
1936 Western Electric divested ERPI division. Management formed "All Technical Services" Company, Altec Service Company, to continue service contracts and manufacture some theatre sound equipment. University Loudspeaker Company founded in New York City.



Western Electric manufactured compression drivers with aluminum diaphragms and edge-wound ribbon voice coils. Calvin Coolidge used first Western Electric public address system during outdoor address at Harvard University. 1941 Altec Service Company bought nearly bankrupt Lansing Manufacturing Company, and formed Altec Lansing Corporation on May 1 at 6900 McKinley Ave. to manufacture former Lansing products with 23 employees. First Altec power amplifier, model 142B.
1926 Warner Brothers Studios licensed Bell Labs talking picture system under "Vitaphone" trademark. 1942 Model 87E high-power amplifier produced; anti-submarine detection equipment produced for U.S. Navy.
1927 The Jazz Singer opened in New York on October 6. Western Electric amplifiers included the 8B, 9A, and 10A, powered by multiple wet storage batteries.
1943 Introduced first field coil Duplex® 15" loudspeaker, model 601. Built anti-aircraft gunnery trainer for U.S. Navy. Altec occupied offices in the Taft Building in Hollywood.
1928 Western Electric formed Electric Research Products, Inc., ERPI, to manufacture, install, and service talking picture systems in studios and theatres. New amplifiers could be powered from AC line, including models 41A, 42A (3 watts), and 43A (15 watts). 1944 Model 604 Duplex® 15" permanent magnet loudspeaker produced. Offices established at Hollywood and Vine.
1945 Built first home loudspeakers, amplifiers, and television receivers. Voice of the Theatre® loudspeaker systems introduced



Here is a reproduction plaque that was in the theatres

WE Wide Range: Well, among other things, it was a wider range speaker system. Instead of one full range horn we had crossovers! Specially designed speakers for each frequency band! The modern era had begun!

Evidently it was in 1931 when the first of these systems were installed. It looks like they were still calling it NEW in 1933. By 1936, with the work started by Shearer at MGM both RCA and WE were selling the two way systems that stayed pretty much unchanged until the 70s. WE's was called MIrrophonic. One big change later was that we got permanent magnets after WWII instead of DC field coils.

This was the WE three way speaker system:

In 1936-38 MGM's Douglas Shearer developed the Shearer Two-Way Horn cabinet, which was incorporated into the Western Electric "Mirrophonic Sound System". Not know if Chinese installed this system, but since the Chinese showed MGM product during this timeframe, we may safely assume it did.


This is from Audio


Lansing Manufacturing Shearer Horn
Model 75W5

© Harman International, Courtesy Mark Gander and John Eargle


The Shearer Horn has significance to the development of the sound industry for two primary reasons. First, it marked a substantial advance in the quality of sound reproduction that became the standard for movie sound. Second, it was fundamental in establishing companies that went on to form the foundation of the loudspeaker business. Not the least of these firms was Lansing Manufacturing.

WE Wide Range System

The project to design the Shearer Horn had its roots in 1933. In that year, John Hilliard contacted Western Electric (WE), on behalf of his employer MGM, to develop a prototype for a new loudspeaker. The intent was to address deficiencies in the WE "Wide Range" speaker system that was the standard of the day. The "Wide Range" system consisted of two WE 555 compression driver attached to  12' "snail horns" with four 18" bass drivers mounted on an open baffle. Two separate "Bostwick Tweeter" covered the high end to result in a three-way system.

The deficiencies of this system were many. The efficiency and low end response were restricted by the open baffle bass drivers and the distortion of these drivers was high. The most significant deficiency, in John Hilliard's mind, was the phase discrepancies between the WE555's and the other drivers. The 12' horn paths so delayed the midrange response that monitoring tests of a tap dance routine resulted in two taps being heard for every one recorded.

Fletcher System Bass Horn
©AT&T, Courtesy Steven E. Schoenherr

Hilliard was aware of research work being undertaken by Bell Labs that resulted in the Fletcher System. That system was used in a prototype, stereophonic demonstration. Hilliard's inclination was to have WE develop a marketable loudspeaker system based on that prototype. In 1934, a full year after Hilliard contacted WE with this proposal, he was dismayed to discover that they had not made any progress.

Around this time, Jim Lansing and his designer, Dr. Blackburn attended the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPE) show at Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood. Western Electric was demonstrating their "Wide Range" system and Jim and Dr. Blackburn decided to take a close look at it. They noted some obvious deficiencies and Jim began to develop ideas on how to improve that system. Shortly after returning to Los Angeles, Dr. Blackburn met with his close friend John Hilliard. At one point the discussion turned to the poor state of movie sound systems. He relayed their experiences at the SMPE show and Lansing's thoughts on how loudspeakers could be improved. The meeting concluded with the idea that John Hilliard, MGM and Lansing Manufacturing should get together and discuss this further.

This was the genesis of the Shearer Project. John Hilliard approached the head of MGM's sound department, Douglas Shearer, with a proposal to develop their own system. There was no love lost between MGM and WE since the latter was perceived to be an unresponsive monopoly. Douglas Shearer didn't hesitate to approve the Hilliard's proposal and authorized "any reasonable budget". Hilliard became the team leader of this new project. Hilliard immediately recruited Lansing Manufacturing, Robert Stephens, a design draftsman on MGM's staff, and Harry Kimball.

Hilliard set the original design parameters for the project and described a concept of a two-way design. He proposed using a compression driver and multicellular horn, similar to that employed in the Fletcher system, and 15" cone speakers mounted in either baffles or horns. Design of the drivers was the responsibility of Lansing Manufacturing. Robert Stephens undertook the design of the geometry of the multicellular horns and their manufacture in MGM's shops. Harry Kimball was responsible for the crossover. In addition to his duties in overseeing the project, Hilliard worked on the preliminary designs for flat baffles and horn alternatives for the bass drivers.

Lansing Manufacturing 284
© Harman International, Courtesy Mark Gander and John Eargle

The first result of Lansing Manufacturing's work was the 15XS field coil bass driver. It was a rugged, efficient, high precision unit using a seamless paper cone attached to a 2" round wire voice coil. The original high-frequency driver that they developed for this project was the 284, which was also a field coil unit using a 2.84" flat wire voice coil attached to a 2.84" aluminum diaphragm. An annular slit phase plug was employed in back of a horn throat that had a 1.5" exit diameter. After initial development, a concern was raised that the use of an annular slit phase plug may be in violation of Bell Lab's patent on the WE594 driver. Dr. Blackburn undertook a redesign of this phase plug to a radial slit configuration. Thus was born the 285 driver that was ultimately used in the production systems.

Hilliard continued with work on the bass module configuration. By this time he was leaning towards the horn alternative, but envisaged a direct horn path. Both RCA and WE became aware of the Shearer Project and were now interested in participating. RCA's Harry Olsen suggested using one of their folded horns. This had the advantage of significantly reduced size, particularly in depth for use behind a projection screen. Hilliard was quick to adopt this design as the basis for the Shearer Horn. By 1935, a prototype was in place using a re-entrant low frequency horn powered by four Lansing 15XS drivers. On top of this was mounted a multicellular horn designed and built by Stephens. It should be noted that Stephens developed a number of multicellular horn patterns depending on the requirements for individual theaters. Hilliard felt it was imperative to avoid the problems of multiple horn overlap. Therefore, horns with cell patterns of 2x4, 2x5, 2x6, 3x3, 3x4 and 3x5 ( all using a 17° x 17° dispersion cell) were developed for use in differently dimensioned theaters. A single Lansing 284 compression driver was initially employed on these horns.

The new Shearer system was now ready for testing and it proved an unqualified success. The bass horn configuration contributed to an overall system efficiency near 50%. The bass horn sensitivity so closely matched that of the high frequency unit that no more than 2 db of attenuation was required. It achieved a flat frequency response of +/- 2db for a bandwidth of 50-8,000hz. The position of the 284 driver, in relation to the position of the bass drivers, had been carefully designed to result in a phase delay of no more than 1 millisecond.

Lansing Manufacturing 15XS
© Harman International, Courtesy Dr. Bruce Edgar

MGM built 12 Shearer Horns for subsequent theater tests in a number of different cities. It confirmed the positive results from the development testing and production was ordered for 150 units for use in MGM's Loews's Theater Circuit. WE and RCA each received contracts to build 75 units. RCA sub-contracted with Lansing Manufacturing for the then used 285 compression driver and 15XS bass driver.

It is interesting to note that Lansing Manufacturing was not a recipient of one of the original contracts to MGM. The reasons for this are not clear given their involvement in the original design. Nonetheless, it appears that MGM did not, or possibly could not, enforce intellectual property rights to the Shearer design. Lansing was soon in business selling their own system to the entire movie industry and gained a reputation as producing the finest example of the type. More prestige theaters and studio screening rooms used Lansing systems than any of the competing designs.

Curiously, Lansing was the only manufacturer to advertise their system as the Shearer Horn. WE used the trade name Diaphonic and RCA marketed several versions of Shearer type systems under their Photophone trade name. The reasons for this are unknown. It may be that Lansing Manufacturing received exclusive rights to the name as a result of their involvement in development. Conversely, it could be that WE and RCA saw no advantage to using a trade name associated with someone outside of their firms. Nonetheless, the Shearer association proved of great value to Lansing Manufacturing. They would develop a number of very successful theatre systems based on Shearer concept as illustrated below.

Lansing Manufacturing Theatre Systems
Left to Right: 30W5 Back,18W5 Back, 75W5 Back, 75W5 Front
© Harman International, Courtesy Mark Gander and John Eargle

The impact of the Shearer Horn on the movie industry is hard to overstate. Virtually every movie loudspeaker manufacturer adopted the Shearer Horn as their standard. It was considered such a significant advance that it received a technical achievement award at the 1936 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ceremony. Lansing Manufacturing became a major presence in the movie sound industry almost overnight. The Shearer Project was also to give rise to one of Lansing's biggest competitors – Stephens Tru-Sonic. Robert Stephens left MGM shortly after the completion of the Shearer project to found this firm. For the next few years, until the formation of Altec Lansing, these two firms were committed, but friendly rivals.

© 2000 Don McRitchie





John Eickhof reports visiting the booth during this time, and recalls
Simplx XL projectors,
Simplex Penthouses
National Excelite High Intensity Lamphouses



Some great details on this page