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Discussion in 'audio' started by robbyd, Mar 4, 2023.

  1. robbyd

    robbyd pfm Member

    Lots of threads about Linn recently -

    I have a few LP12s myself, first bought when I was probably 17...

    - But the name 'Linn' - anyone know where that origates from? How/why?

    I know the 'Sara' speakers story, but that's it...

  2. Nero

    Nero Tired

    Wasn’t Drakemire Drive next to Linn Park in Glasgee?
  3. tpetsch

    tpetsch The Rhythm has Control..

    "Linn Products Limited was started by Tiefenbrun in the city's Castlemilk district near Linn Park in 1972 in order to manufacture a hi-fi turntable, developed from his personal interest in music reproduction."

    The Linn Sondek originally cost £36 as a chassis and £64 complete with plinth and cover and the ‘K’ came from the idea of using the name sound deck simplified to communicate the revolutionary idea that the turntable would influence the sound. Thereafter the ‘K’ acquired a kind of mystic significance.
    John likes this.
  4. robbyd

    robbyd pfm Member

    Perfect - sorted!

  5. stuwils

    stuwils pfm Member

    It was close to Linn crematorium as well.

    Ptah likes this.
  6. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    Yeah, it's just named after the park across the road. Castle Engineering, Ivor's dad's company, is still there.
  7. daytona600

    daytona600 Registered User

    It was close to Hamish Robertson Park as well
    KevinHiFi, chris@panteg and canonman like this.
  8. Joe

    Joe pfm Member


    Tell me that you are not one of those who still claim that Ivor copied Hamish's dek ( sic ) are you ? :)

    I've looked and I've looked and I can't see any similarity .

    Jimin, yairf, vicdiaz and 7 others like this.
  9. Mynamemynaim

    Mynamemynaim 38yrs a Naim owner

    No...nothing to see here....:D
    mjkelshaw likes this.
  10. wd40addict

    wd40addict pfm Member

    Presumably the postcode was TD150 :)
    unclefz, RJohan, matt j and 1 other person like this.
  11. Weecrackpot

    Weecrackpot Frank made me do it.

    I could, my 73 vintage had the wee cut out for the rod that held the lid up, hinges didn’t lock those days.
  12. Paul Hindle

    Paul Hindle Do you mock me?

    Original Linn hinges don’t lock either :rolleyes:
  13. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    I'm no huge fan of Linn as a company and I'll criticize them when I think it's called for but you need to be fair. It's a good story, that Ivor stole the LP12, but I don't think it's true.

    For many years I believed that version of events myself but some things never made sense to me. If Hamish Robertson really had designed the turntable, how on earth did Ivor manage to win the court case? And what happened going forward didn't fit.

    Eventually I got to read the transcript of the case, it's on line somewhere, and that was the missing puzzle piece. I wasn't there so I'm sure that some of my ideas about what happened will be wrong but from what I've picked up over many years, this is broadly what I think happened.

    Hamish approached Castle Engineering with a view to developing a turntable which he would sell. Note that he did not have a finalised design and this is the key point. Yes, the idea of making and selling the turntable was his, but he didn't arrive at castle's door with signed off blueprints. He and Castle designed and developed the deck together and result was the RD11.

    At some point Ivor/Castle become unhappy with the way things are going. They were the ones doing all the hard work, actually making the things, and they feel that Hamish isn't pulling his weight. I know there was some kind of financial disagreement, Hamish not paying for turntables ordered or something like that, I don't know exactly what, but they feel they can do a better job of this themselves. So they tell Hamish that it isn't working and they part ways.

    Understandably, Hamish is not vary happy about this. After all, the whole caper was his idea. Without him, Castle would not have even thought about building a turntable, and he is now in a very bad position. All Castle/Linn have to do is sell the product they are already making, Robertson has to set up an entire new manufacturing stream. So he takes them to court to try and stop them selling what he feels is his idea. And he loses.

    Why did he lose the case? It's pretty simple. The court felt that Castle/Linn had put as much into developing the turntable as Robertson had so were just as entitled to it. Yes, you can argue that it was his idea and Castle/Linn merely developed it but if you want to look at it that way, so did Hamish. He didn't have an original idea, the deck was nothing more than a development of other turntables which were already on the market. If Linn stole it, so did he.

    This all makes perfect sense when you consider what happened next. Both Linn and Ariston continued to develop and sell essentially the same product starting at exactly the same place. Linn started incrementally improving the deck. Very quickly there were changes and over the years almost every part was upgraded. All of those changes were good and made sense from an engineering perspective. They made the deck more stable, better sounding, more reliable and never introduced anything that made it worse, was pointless or was not retrofittable. They kept the basic architecture the same and as a result of their sound understanding of the product it is still going strong fifty years later.

    By contrast, Hamish took the same product and made it worse. One after the other, he introduced changes that were detrimental, pointless and bad engineering. The deck got more expensive to build but no better performing. It changed so much that it became different models with little cross-compatibility. It was a total mess and and the only two Ariston models I would buy are the original RD11 and the next RD11s, which is slightly worse but close enough to still be good.

    It's very clear that Castle/Linn were the brains, the good engineers and the ones who knew what they were doing. If Hamish had won that court case I don't think we would still see his RD11 on the market today as we do with the LP12. I don't think he had what it took to develop and sell it. The right people won.

    Sorry it's not the nice underdog story people want but I do think this is broadly what happened. I'm sure others might disagree and as I said, I'm sure I won't be completely right, but I'm not picking sides here. There are always different sides to a story and some may see things differently if they feel an allegiance to one or the other but I just wanted to try and figure out what actually happened. I'm sure in real life it was messy and bitter and it's sad but these things happen.
    vicdiaz, AndrewR, Robby and 13 others like this.
  14. pocketkitchen

    pocketkitchen Registered User

    Mr Pig, what have you done?!
  15. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    Am I in trouble?

    kernow likes this.
  16. cre009

    cre009 pfm Member

    Hi-Fi News covered the patent hearings in articles by Adrian Hope (aka Barry Fox).

    From the articles we can see that the hearing was specifically about the application for a patent concerning the point bearing as used for the original Ariston RD11 turntable. The background concerning the development of the turntable also needed to be taken into consideration with regards to any remedies (possible costs/damages or other actions) that would result from the decision about whether or not to grant the patent.

    If anyone wants to read the Hi-Fi News coverage of the patent hearing then it is here. Thanks to Rob Holt for the scan of the later article.

    If the process for patent hearings in 1976/77 was anything like the modern approach then it was probably what is now known as an inter partes hearing. Much of the work is done prior to the hearing. This requires comprehensive written statements from each party to be submitted in advance of the hearing and shared with the other parties in an iteritive process of discovery. Evidence consists of witness statements and supporting documents or material. Each side is provided with copies of the other parties submissions and expected to respond by identifying what they wish to contest. If they don't contest something then by default they have agreed.

    The physical Patent Hearing in a court room is intended to address the contested content from the written submissions along with legal arguments and the modern guidelines state that new evidence should not be submitted at the physical hearing unless agreed by the Patent Hearing Officer (Comptroller).

    The Hearing Officers do not do their own research so will reach a decision based on the patent application and the written submissions along with clarification from verbal testimony provided at the physical hearing. By process and training the Hearing Officer is required to be even handed in how they administer the hearing. It would create grounds for an appeal if they were not even handed.

    From the articles we can see that the hearing was specifically about the application for a patent concerning the point bearing as used for the original Ariston RD11 turntable.

    "The Officer saw the nub of the disputed invention as the point contact bearing formed by the conical end of the platter spindle. And it was agreed all round that this, by minimising rumble was indeed the nub of the invention. The Hearing Officer then went on to summarize the train of events that led up to the current marketing of Linn turntables. To the best of my knowledge this has not previously been crystallised, so thanks are due to the officer for his delightfully clear summary of the situation.
    Indeed, anyone both puzzled by and interested in the history of the Ariston-Linn saga need look no futher than the Hearing Officer's main decision for a full breakdown of the extraordinary facts surrounding this unique episode in Audio History.

    To summarize the summary: Jack Tiefenbrun formed Castle Precision Engineering (Glasgow) Ltd. 15 years ago. Hamish Robertson had a company called Thermac in 1967 which became Ariston in 1970 and Ariston Audio in 1973. In 1970 Jack Tiefenbrun's son Ivor Tiefenbrun bought some Hi-Fi equipment and became friendly with Hamish Robertson. Ivor Tiefenbrun made a prototype turntable with a ball bearing and then went off to Israel in 1971. While Ivor was away, Jack Tiefenbrun and Hamish Robertson changed the ball bearing to a point bearing. Robertsons's company Thermac then ordered some 40 such units from Castle. Now as Ariston, Robertson then planned a display of the units for Harrogate in September 1971. C. W. and J Walker were appointed selling agents for the turntable- by now christened the RD11. The turntable was indeed shown at Harrogate that year and the RD11 sales literature boasted "a unique single point bearing" and "almost rumble free sound". The next year (1972) Jack Tiefenbrun filed the two provisional patent specifications on which the disputed patent (BP 1 394 611) was finally to issue. By the end of that year (1972) there had been a deteriation, and finally a breakdown, of relationships between Robertson and Ariston on one hand and the Tiefenbrun's on the other. This culminated with a threat to Robertson that a copyright action would be brought against him if he had the RD11 turntable made elsewhere than at Castle by Tiefenbrun.
    In February 1973 Linn Products Ltd. was formed to sell single-point bearing turntables made by Castle. Ariston was then taken over by Dunlop Westayr Ltd. and the separate firm Fergus Fons formed with Robertson as director. As we have already seen, it was Fons and Robertson and not Ariston-Dunlop-Westayr, who attacked the Tiefenbrun patent claims.".

    There is plenty of interest in the coverage but one of the key points is that "Ivor Tiefenbrun made a prototype turntable with a ball bearing and then went off to Israel in 1971" is stated as a fact (ie uncontested) in the Hearing Officer summary. Adrian Hope insisted his article contained an accurate synopsis so there are only 2 possible options to explain this.

    1. Hamish submitted an alternative version in his written submission but the Hearing Officer ignored it even though it would have been very relevent to any decisions about remedies. This would be a serious failing by the officer who would need to review both versions and justify using one submission in preference to the other. I would also have expected the Adrian Hope article to cover different disputed versions if Hamish submitted one. This option looks so unlikely that I personally dismiss it.

    2. Hamish did not submit an alternative version in his written submission and as a result conceded that the RD11 turntable was based on a prototype by Ivor.

    If the Tiefenbrun's could produce a lot of witnesses that their version was correct then it would have been a huge mistake by Hamish to submit an alternative version that was false. If the Tiefenbrun's version was fake then they would have struggled to produce witnesses and I would have expected Hamish to submit his own different version.

    Whether or not Hamish submitted an alternative version is something that will be verifiable by reviewing the patent hearing documentation copies of which should be held by the British Library in London.

    Outside the hearing Ivor has named former Castle staff who helped him with the development. "The design benefited from the input of my late father who designed the patented single point bearing and from the key engineering staff at Castle Precision Engineering, my late father’s company, including John Cross, Bob Hamond, George Borthwick and the late Russell Christie and Edgar Clumpas who all enthusiastically helped me with this ‘lunchtime’ project, along with many other employees at Castle". This implies that the Tiefenbruns would have been able to call on many witnesses at the hearing if true.
    PF interview with Ivor Tiefenbrun

    Also elsewhere Ray Collins, a former Castle employee (and later Ariston Acoustics) not named by Ivor above told Nigel Pearson that he helped Ivor with the development which provides some independent corroboration that Ivor did the early development. "Ray used to do listening tests with Ivor. Ray said he couldn't hear the differences and would humour Ivor by saying he did".

    All the versions on the web from Hamish supporters start out with him approaching the Tiefenbruns with a turntable he had designed by magic. None of them provide details of the magic trick. The patent hearing makes it quite clear that the magic trick was to use a prototype turntable developed by Ivor Tiefenbrun.
    nostromo, RJohan, Durmbo and 2 others like this.
  17. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    One irony is that I don't even think the single point bearing is that significant. If you listen to an RD11 with a captive ball bearing it still sounds good and not significantly worse than an early LP12/RD11 with the single point. Some manufacturers still use a captive ball today and in practice I just don't see why a single point is going to be massively better. Better, sure but it's not a game changer.
  18. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    Someone has clearly hacked his account!
  19. luxury_scruff

    luxury_scruff Active Member

    TimF and TheDecameron like this.
  20. matt j

    matt j pfm Member

    Also how can they patent a bearing design that is already in use by others, how does that work? Thorens were already using it.
    Mr Pig likes this.

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