PS AUDIO / Paul McGowan
In 1897 a former patient of Dr. John Kellog, Charles “C.W.” Post, mixed a batter of wheat and barley together then baked it in his oven. What came out was a hard brown sheet of material with a slightly sweet and nutty taste. Post then broke apart the sheet and ran the pieces through a coffee grinder. The resulting kernels he called Grape-Nuts.
Of course, Grape-Nuts cereal is neither grapes nor nuts. Post named it Grape-Nuts because he believed the sugar formed in the baking process, Glucose, was actually “grape sugar”. The “nut” part came from the nutty taste and shape of the coffee-ground wheat and barley mix.
Enjoying my bowl of Grape-Nuts bathed in cashew milk this morning, it occurred to me my blind acceptance of the cereal’s name after these many years of never questioning it. I knew there were neither nuts nor grapes inside, yet to me, it was just “a name” and without meaning.
How often do we find the same things in audio? I remember back to Bob Carver’s original company, Phase Linear. To me, it was just a name. It wasn’t until years later I associated the idea of keeping the phase “linear” or unmoving within the audio band as a design goal, and yet Carver wrapped that idea into the name of his company. Dynavector cartridges were another good example. I never put together the idea of a phono cartridge dynamically moving along multiple vectors. Magneplanar, with its magnetic structure and planar surfaces, yet another.
There are no doubt hundreds more clever amalgams of technology into names, but you get the point.
Ours was not quite so cool or technical.