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"The Tech Rep" by James Michener; Continued

"Fourth, every tech rep I have ever known was a nut about high-fidelity music systems and spent much money on equipment. No matter where they pitched their tents, no matter how far into the jungle or remote from the capital city of the nation they served, the tech reps insisted on having good sound, and to get it, they went to extraordinary lengths. Because the supply of electricity varied so much from country to country, any tech rep who had to depend on the local system had to provide his own voltage regulators, transformers, capacitors and safety switches. To bring a fluctuating 220 Burmese volts down to a smooth 110 which the American equipment required, the tech rep would often need half a Jeep-load of gear, and this he would gladly lug from one base to the next, content to spend time and money on the project just so long as the end result was a sound of high quality. In assembly of units he was most catholic, for he used Leak speakers from England, Tandberg recorders from Sweden, Sony amplifiers from Japan, Dural turntables from Germany, and McIntoish preamplifiers from the United States. To collect this complicated gear from so many different sources required an ingenuity of its own, and one of the first things a tech rep did on reporting to a new country was to ascertain how he could promote the various components he needed. Pilots from Scandinavian Airlines System could be replied upon to bring the Tandbergs, German technicians working in the country usually could get hold of the fine turntables produced in the Ruhr, and sooner or later each tech rep established relations in the United States embassy who would import McIntosh or Fisher gear. It was not unusual for older tech reps to spend two or three thousand dollars for an assembly."

To be continued!

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