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The world without Televue

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#1 JoeBlow

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 11:30 PM

The other thread in this forum about the difference between Televue eyepieces and other brands was the inspiration behind starting this topic. Without diminishing the contribution of other companies and developers, Televue's world leading role in eyepiece innovation for the past 40 years is undeniable. The general pattern for 40 years, with some exceptions, has been Televue innovates and then other companies play catch up to stay relevant. The topic of this conversation is how would the amateur astronomy world look today if Al Nagler never started his company? Some possible thoughts to explore may include: 

 

Do you believe Meade would have still eventually gone on to producing a well corrected ultra-wide field series of eyepieces, similar to their 1980's Series 4000 UWA eyepieces (but likely in a different design), if Televue had never come out with the Nagler eyepiece?

 

Would companies till this day be pushing mainly Plossls, Orthos and Erfles on us if Televue had never been on scene?

 

In the absence of Televue what other company/companies would have assumed the lead position of eyepiece innovator and what direction would they have pushed eyepiece innovation towards?

 

How would amateur telescopes developed without Televue?

 

My belief is Televue's drive in research & development of well corrected wide-field eyepieces has been crucial to where we are today in visual/optical amateur astronomy. My estimation is we would be about 20 years behind in eyepiece innovation from where we are today without Televue.

 

What are your thoughts?


Edited by JoeBlow, 06 September 2019 - 11:43 PM.

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#2 clusterbuster

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 11:33 PM

I agree, TELEVUE is the Leader. I wish that I had more of them !

 Mark


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#3 csrlice12

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 11:37 PM

I hate undercuts....outside of that, there's no doubt the wide field eyepiece selection would probably be sparce, and three times as expensive. 


Edited by csrlice12, 06 September 2019 - 11:38 PM.

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#4 JoeBlow

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 11:37 PM

I agree, TELEVUE is the Leader. I wish that I had more of them !

 Mark

Exactly, they are not just merely the leader in producing a wide range of high quality premium eyepieces, but much more importantly they are the lead INNOVATOR in this field.  


Edited by JoeBlow, 06 September 2019 - 11:39 PM.


#5 Scott99

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 11:41 PM

This reminds me of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy!  lol.gif  Harry Seldon could have figured this out with his equations grin.gif

 

TV definitely blew everyone away with the first Naglers.  But 20 years behind without Tele Vue? Not sure of that.  These eyepieces were developed right as the most common amateur scope transitioned from f/10 SCT's with clock drive to undriven f/5 dobs.  Part of their innovation was recognizing this trend and developing eyepieces that worked well on the new dobs.   Somebody else would have eventually responded to the need. 

 

The dobsonian revolution came out of the USA too, most of the ep's were being made in Japan at the time, where people were using longer focus scopes.  Even though TV never made any Newts they made eyepieces for them.  And the coma-corrector as well.

 

Tele Vue helped to popularize small apo refractors too, especially their f/5 Petzvels.  I give them credit for realizing that 3- and 4-inch apo refractors would soon become ubiquitous instruments among amateurs - today almost everybody has one.

 

There were erfle and other wide-fields before the Nagler, they worked pretty well in f/10 SCT's or f/15 refractors which were common in those days.  Nearly all refractors were f/15 back then.   I still like using f/8 or longer scopes and the simple eyepieces that work well in those scopes.  


Edited by Scott99, 07 September 2019 - 12:08 AM.

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#6 fcathell

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 11:54 PM

It always take an innovator to make the "herd" move away from a herd mentality.  In astronomy alone, Tom Johnson (Celestron), John Dobson, and Al Nagler all innovated radical new designs that forced the other companies to catch up or at least attempt competitive products. I think you will find similar scenarios in other areas of technology and/or manufacturing. At the other end of the spectrum where innovation becomes stagnant is the situation where a single company, who may have been an innovator initially, becomes dominant, buys out all the smaller competition, and then continues with a stale, lack-luster product (think Microsoft!). 

 

Frank 


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#7 agmoonsolns

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 11:56 PM

I hate to say this, but there were Nagler-like eyepieces (large 80 degree plus FOV eyepieces with complex high performance designs) around before Tele Vue. They were exceptionally expensive and produced in low numbers, but they were there. I think the big contribution Tele Vue made was they delivered uniformly high quality eyepieces at prices amateurs could afford. Not only that, Al Nagler was personally involved with talking to observers, feet on the ground, to find out what *we* wanted and then fine-tuned his optical innovations to satisfy observer wants/needs. That's something most companies don't do. 

 

Even if there hadn't been a TV, I think we would still have lots of amazing eyepiece designs. Maybe better, maybe not as good, who knows. I am very grateful we do have a TV, they set a high standard for everyone else to follow. Not just in terms of great eyepieces, but also in terms of being a great company with some of the best customer service on the planet. Thank you Al, you changed our world and I am so very grateful for everything you have done.


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#8 JoeBlow

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 12:00 AM

 

TV definitely blew everyone away with the first Naglers.  But 20 years behind without Tele Vue? Not sure of that.  These eyepieces were developed right as the most common amateur scope transitioned from f/10 SCT's with clock drive to undriven f/5 dobs.  Part of their innovation was recognizing this trend and developing eyepieces that worked well on the new dobs.   Somebody else would have eventually responded to the need. 

  

I concede my initial estimate was likely a bit excessive, but I'm still thinking about 10 to 15 years...



#9 bridgman

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 12:36 AM

Whether the gap would have been 5 years or 40 years is really hard to determine... it's more of a binary solution set. Either someone with Mr. Nagler's optical background AND his interest in amateur astronomy comes along or they don't. 

 

Even if you ignore the contribution of the Nagler eyepieces, it's hard to pick up a Delos and not be even more impressed. For 15-odd years my "show-off" eyepiece was a 5mm Radian; now I have a 22T4 Nagler and a 12mm Delos to keep it company. The Delos is the first eyepiece I have looked through that matches the impact of a top notch rifle scope... where the image seems to float outside the body of the optics without any sense of looking through an optical device. 

 

I know there are other high quality wide field eyepieces appearing today (the ES 92 and up are apparently very good although my experience with ES 82's was iffy due to low eye relief) but as far as I can see this is all very recent. Proving causality is pretty much impossible unless you have a copy of the universe you can use as a control (a time machine is important as well) but IMO it's hard to understate the impact of Televue on our hobby.


Edited by bridgman, 07 September 2019 - 01:41 AM.


#10 JoeBlow

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 12:39 AM

I don't doubt that eventually other companies would have likely entered the scene and provided similar products. However I believe Televue played a very important role in making things move at a much faster pace, where else the remaining companies may have felt too comfortable in their space and moved forward more sluggishly. I think this was particularly important for getting things moving during the 80s and 90s.


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#11 TOMDEY

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 01:10 AM

The two big guys were complacent. Innovation (almost) always comes from smaller companies... especially start-ups. That will probably remain so.

 

The high-end affordable eyepieces are so good now... sure seems that there is no need (or market?) to go better. The imagery is so near-perfect, that we wind up micro-splitting hairs, when comparing them. They are all magnificent, compared with the old simpletons of fifty years ago.      Tom



#12 sg6

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 02:16 AM

I would suspect that it would be a bit like evolution: There is a gap and something would evolve to fill it. In effect "just" requires someone to sit down and decide to investigate and develop a "better" eyepiece and you would have something similar. In our case the person was someone called Al Nagler.

 

Eyepieces have gone from singles, to doubles to triples. Plossls are either doubles or triples - depending on how you think. Erfles are 5 and 6 elements. The single in the 5 became a doublet making 6.

 

So I would say someone would have come along and developed a "Nagler" under one name or another.

 

Really the next question is have eyepieces realistically gone as far as they can?

Small improvements could come from new glass types, but they would be small. More elements are as likely to make things worse as much as better. New profiles - non-spherical - are probably the next improvement.



#13 Joku_

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 02:29 AM

TV definitely blew everyone away with the first Naglers. But 20 years behind without Tele Vue? Not sure of that. These eyepieces were developed right as the most common amateur scope transitioned from f/10 SCT's with clock drive to undriven f/5 dobs. Part of their innovation was recognizing this trend and developing eyepieces that worked well on the new dobs. Somebody else would have eventually responded to the need.

Do you mean that SCTs were common during the late 70s and early 80s? That sounds quite surprising considering how expensive they are nowadays compared to simpler telescopes like Newtonians.

From what I have heard from older hobbyists, I got the impression that back then smaller, longer focal length Newtonians or refractors were common. For example, 110mm f/8-ish Newtonians like TAL-1 or 100mm f/10 achromats were popular. But I guess that depends on where you live.

Though I have to say I don't understand why Dobson mounted Newtonians were not more common, as they were (and still are) cheaper to make. And something like a 8" or 10" Newtonian f/6 tube is still not too bulky to transport, and can still use cheaper EPs like Plössls or even Erfles.

Edited by Joku_, 07 September 2019 - 03:00 AM.

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#14 Sleep Deprived

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 03:31 AM

No doubt, Al Nagler was an innovator in the field.  Whether he saw an opening in the market, or he simply had a vision to make the best, clearest, widest views, I don't know.  Because he made the business decision to make these EP's, I expect he was AWARE of market needs.  Having said that, if he hadn't done it, I expect someone else would have.  Perhaps not exactly what he did, but the general improvement of the field that he is responsible for would probably have been done by someone else.

 

Just like if Bill Gates and Paul Allen had spent their high school days smoking dope and frying their brains, I expect we would probably still be operating our computers with some Windows-like OS.  Maybe Apple's OS would have morphed into something closer to Windows.  Or maybe that OTHER smart guy who DID smoke piles of dope would have followed a different path and we'd be talking about him instead of Gates & Allen.

 

In the end, I think innovators are simply making what we want/need (even if we don't know it), rather than they create something and convince us it's what we want.  Sure, there are market-makers out there, but without some latent want/need, they are probably only good for Pet Rocks and Chia Pets.  With all the people out there doing things, SOMEONE is likely to come up with the right thing at the right time.  In this universe, in this hobby, that man's name is Al Nagler.  I expect someone else would have done something similar, albeit a little later, if Mr. Nagler had followed a different calling.  Please don't mistake what I say as belittling Mr. Nagler's contribution!  He beat the rest of us to it.



#15 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 05:46 AM

I hate to say this, but there were Nagler-like eyepieces (large 80 degree plus FOV eyepieces with complex high performance designs) around before Tele Vue.

 

 

Can you name some that were as well corrected in a fast scope as the Type 1 and Type 2 Naglers? I know of none. 

 

It was not just the 82 degree field that was so special about the first Naglers, it was the fact that they were sharp across the field in very fast scopes.

 

I think Al Nagler was a very special person, a talented optical designer who was also an amateur astronomer with a special vision of what amateur astronomy could be.

 

I think had TeleVue not existed, there would be modern, reasonably well corrected eyepiece's but it would have taken a number of years and a different path with different results. I am thinking that it would have followed eyepiece's like the Pentax XLs and XWs. 

 

I don't know how much Pentax learned from TeleVue, maybe nothing, they certainly did not directly copy any of the TeleVue eyepiece's the way Meade did and others have done since. But the XWs are certainly better corrected than the XLs.

 

Here's something to consider:

 

The first Naglers were designed in 1979, hit the market in 1980. Meade immediately copied/cloned the Naglers and later the Wide Fields but never improved on the design for more than 20 years.

 

In the mean time, TeleVue was improving and innovating, the Panoptics, the Radians. By the year 2001, the Type 4, Type 5 and type 6 Naglers had been introduced.

 

Looking back, it was well into the 21st Century when new 82 degree eyepiece's arrived on the scene, the UWANs, clearly Nagler derivatives.

 

And when the 100 degree eyepiece's arrived on the scene, it was the Ethos and then those were immediately copied.

 

So from my perspective, I'm not sure that eyepiece's like the Naglers, Panoptics, Ethos's etc would have been developed because, even when given the designs and the success in the marketplace, no one else did innovate new astronomical telescope eyepiece's that were comparable to what TeleVue had done and was doing..

 

Jon


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#16 Deep13

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 06:04 AM

History is driven by contingencies and there is no way to predict how things might have been has something been different.
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#17 JoeBlow

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 07:18 AM

Can you name some that were as well corrected in a fast scope as the Type 1 and Type 2 Naglers? I know of none. 

 

It was not just the 82 degree field that was so special about the first Naglers, it was the fact that they were sharp across the field.

 

I think Al Nagler was a very special person, a talented optical designer who was also an amateur astronomer with a special vision of what amateur astronomy could be.

 

I think had TeleVue not existed, there would be modern, reasonably well corrected eyepiece's but it would have taken a number of years and a different path with different results. I am thinking that it would have followed eyepiece's like the Pentax XLs and XWs. 

 

I don't know how much Pentax learned from TeleVue, maybe nothing, they certainly did not directly copy any of the TeleVue eyepiece's the way Meade did and others have done since. But the XWs are certainly better corrected than the XLs.

 

Here's something to consider:

 

The first Naglers were designed in 1979, hit the market in 1980. Meade immediately copied/cloned the Naglers and later the Wide Fields but never improved on the design for more than 20 years.

 

In the mean time, TeleVue was improving and innovating, the by Panoptics, the Radians. By the year 2001, the Type 4, Type 5 and type 6 Naglers had been introduced.

 

Looking back, it was well into the 21st Century when new 82 degree eyepiece's arrived on the scene, the UWANs, clearly Nagler derivatives.

 

And when the 100 degree eyepiece's arrived on the scene, it was the Ethos and then those were immediately copied.

 

So from my perspective, I'm not sure that eyepiece's like the Naglers, Panoptics, Ethos's etc would have been developed because, even when given the designs and the success in the marketplace, no one else did innovate new astronomical telescope eyepiece's that were comparable to what TeleVue had done and was doing..

 

Jon

Thanks Jon, you make some excellent points.

 

In an alternate universe it's quite likely Japan would have been the center of eyepiece designs, and new innovations may have been derivatives of the Pentax line.


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#18 alnitak22

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 08:22 AM

I hate to say this, but there were Nagler-like eyepieces (large 80 degree plus FOV eyepieces with complex high performance designs) around before Tele Vue. They were exceptionally expensive and produced in low numbers, but they were there. I think the big contribution Tele Vue made was they delivered uniformly high quality eyepieces at prices amateurs could afford. Not only that, Al Nagler was personally involved with talking to observers, feet on the ground, to find out what *we* wanted and then fine-tuned his optical innovations to satisfy observer wants/needs. That's something most companies don't do. 

 

Even if there hadn't been a TV, I think we would still have lots of amazing eyepiece designs. Maybe better, maybe not as good, who knows. I am very grateful we do have a TV, they set a high standard for everyone else to follow. Not just in terms of great eyepieces, but also in terms of being a great company with some of the best customer service on the planet. Thank you Al, you changed our world and I am so very grateful for everything you have done.

What 80 degree plus eyepieces were available to the public before the Naglers and who sold them? Who made them? I didn’t know there were any. How did they perform in an f/5 system?


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#19 25585

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 08:22 AM

Tele Vue is now no longer an innovator. They are resting, presumably comfortably, on their laurels.  

 

Before any Tele Vue, I had Erfles, still do. 4 of my 80 different eyepieces are TV, & other makes equally as good or better. TV eyepieces I have tried, have been unremarkable in performance improvement, and generally less easy to use.

 

But there is no denying the influence & trends TV has set which have influenced various other makers, but some of those now lead, and TV is following.  


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#20 JoeBlow

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 08:49 AM

Tele Vue is now no longer an innovator. They are resting, presumably comfortably, on their laurels.  

 

Before any Tele Vue, I had Erfles, still do. 4 of my 80 different eyepieces are TV, & other makes equally as good or better. TV eyepieces I have tried, have been unremarkable in performance improvement, and generally less easy to use.

 

But there is no denying the influence & trends TV has set which have influenced various other makers, but some of those now lead, and TV is following.  

I've certainly taken notice of new innovators on the scene in recent years, which is really refreshing to see, I believe TV played a big role in motivating the whole industry to go on this trajectory.

 

This thread probably gives the impression that I'm some sort of huge TV fanboy... Now I do like their products, but truth is out of the 11 eyepieces I currently own, only 2 are TV (31 Nagler and 17.3 Delos), the rest are a very eclectic mix including Pentax XW, LVW, Baader Morpheus, 12.5mm Docter and a few other brands. My favourite by far is the Docter, if they ever come out with more focal lengths it's likely I'll replace some of my set with them. So I certainly have a big apparition for premium eyepiece from other makers.


Edited by JoeBlow, 07 September 2019 - 09:05 AM.

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#21 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 09:29 AM

Tele Vue is now no longer an innovator. They are resting, presumably comfortably, on their laurels.  

 

Before any Tele Vue, I had Erfles, still do. 4 of my 80 different eyepieces are TV, & other makes equally as good or better. TV eyepieces I have tried, have been unremarkable in performance improvement, and generally less easy to use.

 

But there is no denying the influence & trends TV has set which have influenced various other makers, but some of those now lead, and TV is following.  

 

I see derivative designs based on different mixes of the TeleVue innovations. I'm not seeing truly innovative designs.

 

Have you found an eyepiece equal to the 31 mm Nagler? I know of none.. 

 

Jon

 

YMMV


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#22 russell23

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 09:35 AM

Vegas odds currently 4 to 3 this thread is locked by Tuesday. :)
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#23 Astrojensen

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 09:40 AM

Have you found an eyepiece equal to the 31 mm Nagler? I know of none.. 

 

Jon

There was the Leitz 30mm/88°. I've never tried one, so I don't know how well it stacks up against the 31mmT5, but it's at least an example of an eyepiece with similar numbers. Articles I've read state that it wasn't as well corrected at f/5 as the 31mmT5, but cleaned up well at f/8-ish and longer. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#24 RAKing

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 09:42 AM

Tele Vue is now no longer an innovator. They are resting, presumably comfortably, on their laurels.  

 

Before any Tele Vue, I had Erfles, still do. 4 of my 80 different eyepieces are TV, & other makes equally as good or better. TV eyepieces I have tried, have been unremarkable in performance improvement, and generally less easy to use.

 

But there is no denying the influence & trends TV has set which have influenced various other makers, but some of those now lead, and TV is following.  

 

I don't think Televue has rested on their laurels at all.

 

They reverse-engineered their own Ethos and came up with eyepieces with better eye relief that are super sharp across a smaller FOV - Delos and DeLites.

 

I had my sets of Pentax XW and Delos outside last night and was amazed at how crisp and clean the view was through the Delos.  The companies match focal lengths at 14 and 10mm, but the total mix of these eyepieces gives me plenty of wonderful eyepieces to use.  My only wish is that TV would extend the range of the Delos into the 2-inch market.

 

My Pentaxes have always been wonderful, but I now run closer to a 50-50 mix of Delos and Pentax in my scopes.

 

Cheers,

 

Ron


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#25 SeattleScott

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 09:46 AM

Ultimately TV became successful because they were the first to market for certain products. Which benefited them and us. What makes TV unique to me is their focus on eyepieces. Meade and Celestron were more focused on building telescopes, and a little extra money from eyepieces was kind of like having candy bars next to the groceries checkout stands. It wasn’t really the focus of their business, or R&D. You could argue TV still plays a similar role with focusing on advancing eyepieces, allowing other companies to focus on telescopes and just copy TV eyepiece designs. The other company that really seems to be innovating eyepieces right now is ES. Who else has a 120 degree eyepiece? Who else has excellent LE 92 AFOV eyepieces? 30mm hyperwide? So it’s nice to see another company pushing the envelope now.

Vixen also had a reputation for innovation back then, and their LVW eyepieces remain some of the most commonly cloned eyepieces ever, despite the demise of the LVW. Maybe Vixen would have developed well corrected wide angle eyepieces if Al hadn’t beat them to it. But again they were also focused on mounts, telescopes, etc. What really helped Al was focusing on eyepieces as a profit center and core competency, and focusing R&D appropriately.

Scott
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