Tasco imported many different variations of what most folks call the 7TE model. Digging deep into the archives here on CN and with newer information that has surfaced here on CN, I have a better idea of when and what versions of the 7TE that Tasco imported thru the years. I keep searching, but have never run across any sales literature by Tasco to reflect what exactly or when exactly the various 7TE models were sold before 1960 or mid 1959.
But with that said, some pre 7TE 1960 Tascos have been found with instruction manuals, inspection tags or stickers and other sales literature to help better understand the time line for pre 1960 models. Along with that, it appears that Tasco imported 7TE scopes from the same source/vendor/manufacture that Astro Optical used and or contracted directly from Astro Optical. Before 1958 there appears to have been scopes from what is called the Astro Service Center in Japan going back to 1956 per Japan sources. This may have been pre Astro Optical Co. Inc. beginnings and or was actually early Astro Optical before if became officially Astro Optical Co. Inc. in 1958 per Japan sources in the archives here on CN.
To this date, the earliest known documented Tasco versions of a 7TE model were called Tasco 152 Power models. The name 7TE or even 7T was not used in the manuals until the 1959 time frame. Inspection tags date this first known version back to Sept 1957. But the Tasco 152 Power manuals are the same as used by Astro Optical but revised to reflect the Tasco imported version. Going back further, the Astro Optical manuals seem to arise from Astro Service Center imported scopes dating back to 1956 such as one brand imported by the name of Space Scope 151.
The serial numbers that have been found on pre 1959 Tasco 7TE models will be listed below as time permits. This is the best I can say at this time with known information again based on manuals, inspection tags/stickers, orig owner recollections first or second hand and comparing to Astro Optical or Astro Service Centers models offered during the same time period when applicable.
Numerical Range of Tasco Serial Numbers or REG NO's:
Tasco 228 Power Models with serial numbers ranging from 11XXX to 12XXX. Circa 1959 or possibly earlier?
These are the Tasco models that I can not yet honestly give a date range for many reasons. No inspection tags or export tags found with this version to help date them. Also this version appears to be from a different source/suppler/vendor/manufacture than assumed Astro Optical 1958 on up imports. Plus they also don't fit Astro Service Center typical imported models going back to 1956. Tasco had patent number on these wooden storage boxes but I've not had any luck using that to date this serial number group. I'm not convinced that the presence of patent numbers by themselves means that this version was the very first 60mm x 910mm model imported by Tasco has opposed to a different suppler/importer that Tasco used.
If you've read earlier postings by me over the years, I've said these scopes seem to share many traits that the imported brand of Swift scopes beginning around 1960 which also have much in common with the Japan brand of Eikow. But the white plastic control rod handles with a U-Joint are pictured on Astro Optical models going back to possibly 1958 or 1959.
Who's on first...I do not know the true connection between all of these importers...but as many others have stated, it may all come down to the hundreds or more of small job or mom and pop shops that supplied parts to the major exporters in Japan.
Did Tasco use another importer at one time for a short period while also importing there Astro Optical version, that could be one explanation. Reason I mention this is that these Swift like early imported scopes are found on one version of a Space Scope model and also versions of SPI and Sans & Streiffe models. And these Swift like imported various brands match known early 1959 Sears catalog offerings and other mail order catalogs from same time frame of 1959. Could they be late 1958 scopes, could be but no literature to confirm at this time. So I leave the date at 1959 at this time for this version called the Tasco 228 Power Model.
For those not familiar with the Tasco 228 Power version, here are a few pics of this version as only a few have surfaced albeit on CN, Amart or GW per my searches over the last 6+ years. This version is unlike any other known Tasco 7TE except that it has the Tasco name. The beautiful example pictured is from another CN member of the set up scope. The other pics are from examples I own but stored away.