Garrard Engineering and Manufacturing Company

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A Garrard turntable, Model 1212

The Garrard Engineering and Manufacturing Company of Swindon, Wiltshire, was a British company that was famous for producing high-quality gramophone turntables. It was formed by the jewellers Garrard & Co in 1915. The company was sold to Plessey, an electronics conglomerate, in 1960. During the period 1976-1978, Garrard developed demonstrators of the novel video disc technology. Although the team recognised the future potential of this data storage technology, Plessey chose not to invest. After several years in decline, Garrard was sold by Plessey to Gradiente Electronics of Brazil in 1979 and series production was moved to Brazil (Manaus). The remaining Garrard research and development operation in Swindon was reduced to a skeleton operation until completely shut down in 1992. Then, Gradiente licensed the Garrard name to Terence O'Sullivan, now doing business as Garrard and Loricraft Audio, since 1997.

In the interim, the Garrard brand name was licensed to other companies in the USA, which imported many electronic items built by many different and unrelated Far Eastern manufacturers. Thus, one can find "Garrard" cassette decks, CD players, stereo receivers, boom-box radio/cassette machines, portable "Walkman" type cassette players, serial-port printer cables, universal TV/audio remote controls, and other miscellany, including turntables that had nothing to do with any original Garrard design.

The Garrard 301 and 401 Transcription Turntables[edit]

The Garrard 301 Transcription Turntable was the first transcription turntable from the Garrard Engineering and Manufacturing Company that supported all extant commercial playback formats – the 33, 45 and 78 rpm records of the time. The first model was called the Garrard 301. The later 401 was nearly identical mechanically, but with a redesigned exterior, more powerful motor, slightly different eddy current braking speed control and different turntable thrust bearing. Both models became iconic products, revered by enthusiasts to the present day, and were used by the BBC and in commercial radio stations, mostly in Europe; the 301 and to a lesser extent the 401 were also exported around the world. Production of the 301 started in 1953; the 401 was produced until 1976.

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