Grover C. “Jeep” Harned, the founder of MCI Electronics— a manufacturer of studio consoles and recorders during the1970s and 1980s — died on March 13, 2003.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University,Harned joined the U.S. Army, serving as electronics instructor. In1955, he opened Music Center Inc., a store catering to the growinghi-fi market. Harned soon hooked up with Mack Emerman, who had justopened Criteria Studios and had trouble with the facility’scustom-built 16×3 console and ½-inch 3-track recorders. This“quick-fix” job lasted some 18 months, as Harned redesignednearly all of Criteria’s gear.
During the early ‘60s, Harned built consoles, preamps andrecord electronics. In 1965, his business name became MCI Inc., and hefocused on making replacement solid-state Ampex 350 recorders. Wordabout MCI spread: Harned got a call from Tom Hidley (then manager ofTTG Recording Studios in Hollywood), asking if MCI could create24-track electronics for an Ampex 300 that Hidley modified to handle2-inch tape. That first 24-track went into service at TTG in 1968,creating a stir among competing studios and leading to a recordingrevolution.
MCI showed its own recorders at AES 1971, and a year later, intro’dthe concept of the AutoLocator. MCI began building a“production” console series, and soon off-the-shelf prostudio mixers became reality. Later, a Nashville audio dealer namedDave Harrison, who later founded Harrison Consoles, came to Harned withan idea of a console with in-line (as opposed to “split”)monitoring. In 1972, the MCI JH400 Series — the first in-lineconsole — was born. In 1978, MCI unveiled a 32-track analog deckthat recorded on 3-inch tape. It went nowhere. MCI did much better withits JH500 and JH600 Series consoles, which became ubiquitous fixturesin studios.
Harned sold MCI to Sony in 1982 and retired. He will long beremembered as a pioneer who made significant advancements to the stateof pro audio.
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