Preserving and using classic telescopes is without any doubt a worthy endeavor; one has only to look at past threads in this forum to see the well-deserved care and attention that we lavish on our old instruments. In time, they become more like family than mere possessions.
Might I suggest that similar attention should be paid to the history of these instruments? As many of you know, I wrote a modest history of Edmund Scientific telescopes, the impetus for which was, along with an affection for the instruments, the lack of information available on them at the time. Turk has done a fantastic job with Cave Instruments, and again, prior to his efforts there was relatively little information available regarding them. Richard Hill has composed an excellent work covering Criterion, and Bob Piekiel has "written the book" on Celestron.
This is all well and good, but there are many manufacturers whose stories have, to my knowledge, not yet been properly recorded for posterity; a short list might include such manufacturers as Unitron, Pacific Instruments, Spacek Instruments, Jaegers, Coast Instruments, Optical Craftsmen and others that got their start postwar, and reached their zenith during the Space Age. The individuals who were directly involved in these ventures are quite old now, and many have passed from the scene; all the more reason to begin immediately making an effort to unearth at least a basic outline of the who, what, when and where of commercial instrument makers of this period. In any cases, if the principals are deceased, their progeny might well be willing to discuss their forebear's involvement. I know from firsthand experience that this will take some digging, a lot of cold-calling and trips down dead-ends, but wouldn't it be worth it to preserve such information about the instruments we so love?
One needn't be a writer to take on such a task, just interested enough to make the effort to unearth the information. Whatever is gathered could be put into readable form by others, if one feels that they lack the requisite skills (although judging from the high level of discourse on this forum, nearly every poster here is more than capable in this regard).
So, what say you all? Should the past be allowed to slip away and be forgotten, as it is currently doing in many cases, or should we make efforts NOW to preserve as much history as is possible?
Edited by amicus sidera, 10 August 2014 - 10:21 AM.