THE SCHAUB LORENZ MUSIC CENTER


  Devised, researched
 and written
  by
  Peter King Smith BSc

                                                         The mid-1960s, German-built multi-track tape recorder with FM/AM/SW radio

Interview 

Kurt Senglaub, Ing. grad. 


Kurt Senglaub , 87, recalls his involvement in the design and development of the Schaub-Lorenz Music Center in the mid-1960s, and for the first time reveals why he was not recognised as one of the co-inventors of the BBG machine. 


Photo: Kurt Senglaub, East Germany, 1956

 

PKS: I recently discovered your name on a document that I was handed in Erfurt, Germany, in May of this year [1], which described you as one of the design and development engineers who helped make the Schaub-Lorenz Music Center. Is that correct? 

KS: Yes, that's correct. Hans-Georg Fuchs and I were senior engineers responsible for the mechanical construction of the Music Centers at Standard Elektrik Lorenz (SEL) in Altena.

PKS: Who was the principal inventor of the Schaub-Lorenz Music Center?

KS: Aah, that was Friedrich Knochenhauer. He had already come up with the idea for such a machine in 1959 at 'Funkwerk Köpenick' in East Berlin, in the former DDR, where we, as a team comprising Friedrich Knochenhauer, Günter Löffler, Hans-Georg Fuchs and myself, were getting the first tape recorder (the BG 19) ready for production.

PKS: OK. That confirms the findings of my research into the history of the patents for the Music Center.
  The Erfurt document claims that you left East Berlin and sought asylum in West Berlin. Is that correct?

KS: Yes. After fleeing [ed. to West Berlin] in 1960, we ended up at Graetz (later SEL) in Altena, Westphalia, where Friedrich Knochenhauer realised his idea of the BBG together with us. Later, Siegfried Apitz and Alexander Boom joined the team.

PKS: What happened once production of the Music Center was terminated?

KS: As you know, the machine was not very successful at the time, and eventually our team broke up in 1966. Friedrich Knochenhauer went to Munich, where he worked as an independent development engineer [ed. Entwickler] until his death on 9 April 1969.

Hans-Georg Fuchs was killed in a car accident between Altena and Lüdenscheid in 1963, I believe. Günter Löffler became a lecturer in Electrical Engineering at the School of Engineering in Wuppertal. I have no idea what Siegfried Apitz or Alexander Boom went on to do.

PKS: Are you still in touch with the Knochenhauer family?

KS: I do have an address for Mrs Knochenhauer. After the death of her husband, she moved out of Munich, but that address dates back to 1980. I am no longer in touch with her now.

PKS: What did you do after the team broke up?

KS: My family and I moved to Ulm in 1966 to join AEG-Telefunken where I became senior development engineer for the train-railway-radio system which had just started up there. I retired in 1984 aged 63. My wife and I lived in a detached house with a large garden in Erbach near Ulm until 2004.

PKS: Did you ever own a Music Center?

KS: Yes, I had a Music Center up in the loft in Erbach. When the house was sold in December 2004 and we moved to Ulm, the machine ended up on a scrap heap, something which I now regret. Up till then, the machine had worked flawlessly.

PKS: Do you happen to remember the name of the "Schaub engineer", who apparently spoke good English and had an unusual use for his own music center, who was sent by Standard Elektrik Lorenz to England in 1970, to train a certain Mike Solomons how to repair faulty music centers?

KS: I have no idea who was sent to England in 1970 to repair Music Centers. I was already working in Ulm for several years by then.

PKS: While researching the key patents relating to the Music Center invention, I never once came across your name as one of the co-inventors of the BBG. What was the reason for this?

KS: As a result of unpleasant internal politics on the part of Mr Fuchs, I was [ed. deliberately] excluded from the team of inventors, which did not seem that important to me at the time.

PKS: I understand from Siegfried Apitz that you went to Ireland a couple of times while working for AEG Telefunken?

KS: Yes, that's right. I went to Dublin to assist the railway people there install the SE equipment in train drivers' cabs.

PKS: Mr Senglaub, it was a privilege being able to interview you.

KS: I hope I have been able to contribute a little to your website, and would be glad to hear from you again.

***

Kurt Senglaub corresponded with the website's author in July 2008.
© Peter K. Smith 2008


Footnotes
1. For further details, see Hamann 2008.