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Criterion Days

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#1 Charlie Hein

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:56 AM

There was a time in my life, many years ago, when I worked for a telescope company. I was a telescope enthusiast at the time, one of my early obsessions in a life of serial obsession.

The company was Criterion Manufacturing, a small family owned company in West Hartford, Connecticut.


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#2 rmollise

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 09:11 AM

Very nice article. I love and use my RV-6 regularly. The SCT? All I will say is it's a shame for the people who worked so hard on it that it never really came together.

#3 Gil V

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 09:46 AM

I agree with you 100%, Rod.

Thank you very much for publishing it. If it is well-received, I might expand the article in the future.

#4 highfnum

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 09:47 AM

I waited a long time for a story like this from the inside
photo's are great
i have a 4 inch dynascope - 1967
i have dx8 from 1979

when did switch to B+L take place?
anything special happen in 79

#5 Masvingo

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:06 AM

Thanks Gil, I've been waiting for this ever since you mentioned you had submitted it to CN.

A fascinating insight into life at Criterion, really interesting to see the pictures of the plant too. Wonder if you did any of the build of my Dx8 (1980)?

James

#6 highfnum

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 11:21 AM

my dy8

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#7 highfnum

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 11:22 AM

front view I added thumb screws for easy collmination

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#8 Andy Howie

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 11:34 AM

Great, great read.
Thanks for sharing your memories and experiences.

Cheers,
Andy.

#9 Masvingo

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 11:53 AM

when did switch to B+L take place?


Sometime in 1981 According to Company 7 which ties in with the dates for a change in position given on this page on John Krewalk Jr's site, the Krewalks being the owners of Criterion prior to the sale to the Bushnell division of B&L.

James

#10 Astrosetz

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 12:45 PM

Loved the article! I'm a big fan of the Dynascope RV-6 and 8 Newtonians. I don't think I've ever looked through a Dynamax 8, though.

#11 rdandrea

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:26 PM

Fantastic article. Thanks for taking the time.

#12 mdowns

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:35 PM

Nothing beats the insights of those who were there! Great read,I really liked it.

#13 ukcanuck

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:36 PM

A great story...and a nice piece of history. I was hoping you still owned one :grin:

Thanks for taking the time to write such a great piece.

#14 Gil V

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:44 PM

I might have worked on your scope, but it's impossible to be certain. I will say that your scope is my favorite vintage - powder blue arms, white finder, removable finder brackets. I did a bunch of those. The switch to the removable bracket happened when I was an optical assembler.

#15 astrogeezer41

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:50 PM

I agree with Andy, Gil.
I enjoyed reading it.

Thanks for telling the story,
Robert

#16 Mark Swanson

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:30 PM

Good job Gil. Very good article. I have a Criterion Dynamax 8 that is just as good as the one I sold you. That is why I let the one I sold you go. I have bought several of these over the years and played with them. I will never sell the one I have now.

I would not have sold the one I sold you if it did not have great optics, because you would have only been disappointed with it. I resolved the green companion of Antares in spectacular fashion and several doubles, including Struve 359 in Hercules in your scope. I knew that it was good to go. Planets were great too.

Mark

#17 Gil V

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:40 PM

Thanks for the scope - and the kind words.

#18 Bob Abraham

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 05:34 PM

What a great article! Many thanks for this.

Bob

#19 BrooksObs

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 05:55 PM

A most interesting read addressing the company's background and evolution from a personal perspective. And I must add that my connection with Criterion products dates almost from their beginnings in the telescope business as in my youth I was the proud owner of one of their very early 4" alt-az head Dynascope Newtonians, the first scope the company ever offered, back about 1956-57. I still have its optics around here some place.

BrooksObs

#20 mrlovt

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 06:34 PM

Thanks for the inside look at Criterion. I wish they were still in the marketplace. Good quality inexpensive scopes on solid GEMs will always have a place in amateur astronomy. I know I'll always love pushing my RV-6 around the sky.

#21 mcoren

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:59 PM

Thanks for writing up that article Gil. I was one of the folks you helped in customer support all those years ago. In 1981 when I was in high school, I bought a used Dynamax 8 through a classified ad in Sky & Telescope (back when the classifieds used to run for many pages each issue). The drive corrector it came with worked fine with indoor AC power, but the first time I tried plugging it into the lighter socket in the car it smoked.

At that time I didn't know good versus bad optical quality, but it was a great scope to have during the 1981 "Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn, and I saw most of the Messiers with it, several lunar eclipses, and learned a lot of sky. I also periodically had police cars stop when I was out in front of my house, but we were a small township and most of the officers who drove the night shift knew about me after a while. I kept it through college and for many years thereafter, only replacing it (with another SCT) when my interest in astronomy was rekindled during the run-up to the 2003 Mars opposition. Say what people might about the optics, the "golden pyramid" tripod was rock stable with a set of anti-vibration pads.

By the way, I think during the timeframe you wrote about, there were more than four telescope companies in the US. I grew up outside of Philadelphia, and I recall that Questar was somewhere in the area. I never visited them or even knew precisely where they were, but it was pretty cool to see their fancy ads in the magazines and know that they were nearby (even if I would never afford one of their scopes on what I made mowing lawns and working at McDonald's!).

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#22 Mike Allen

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:29 AM

What a wonderful and informative story. I enjoyed it very much. Thanks.

#23 NigelR

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 10:25 AM


VERY enjoyable read :-) Must admit to being ignorant about the brand prior to reading your super story but yet again have learnt something new! Clear skies (BIG storm here in Benoni South Africa as I write this so no observing tonight...)
Nigel Rotherham

#24 Dennis_S253

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 11:01 AM

Very good story. I'm a proud owner of a B&L Criterion 4000. It's the only scope I had for years. Right now I mainly use it for solar viewing but I think I'm going to start using it for AP soon.
Did I understand that one part about moving the corrector plate, to get the best views? There's not much help around about these scopes. Clear skies...

#25 3c_273

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 11:08 AM

Gil,

Many thanks for writing this. I really enjoyed reading it.

Tom






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