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Orion Telescopes and Binoculars:

If one seeks to find a company that has grown to represent the ideal of a customer service oriented mail order and catalog sales telescope store, then it will be "Orion" that comes to the forefront.

A Brief History Orion Telescopes and Binoculars was founded in 1975 at Santa Cruz, California by Tim Gieseler. Originally known as "Gieseler Electronics" and "Optronic Technologies", it was then a company engaged in the design and manufacture of electronic accessories for amateur telescopes. It would become by the late 1980's, the largest and most successful mail order oriented reseller of amateur telescopes.

AccuTrack Drive Corrector of early 1980's (59,941 Bytes) Orion also marketed its own products to the consumer under the "AccuTrack™" trademark. The most popular of these accessories was the Drive Corrector, an electronic accessory made to precisely control telescopes which incorporate an AC powered synchronous tracking motor. Depending on the model, the Drive Corrector might also permit the operator to use the telescope in the field from portable 12 volt D.C. power sources, and precisely speed up or slow down the tracking to compensate for errors of Polar Alignment, or of mechanical imperfections in the mount. And since battery voltage tends to drop gradually as depleted, many early models often incorporated a dial to vary the speed in order to compensate for variations of power source voltage. Later quartz models regulated this automatically. One of the 1975 era AccuTrack Model 1117A is on display with a Unitron Model 142, 3 inch Equatorial Refractor in our collection.

Right: AccuTrack Model 2120 Dual Axis Drive Corrector of the 1980's, with provided hand-held control (59,941 Bytes).
Click on image to see enlarged view (110,801 bytes).

The "Dual Axis Drive Corrector" added the capability to control an optional Declination motor for centering an object in the field of view. For a time, Celestron International contracted Optronics to manufacture drive correctors to be marketed under the Celestron trademark; one of these is on display in Company Seven's showroom museum collection alongside an early Celestron 8. Drive correctors were almost necessary accessories for many tracking telescopes sold until 1985 when Meade Instruments Corp. became the first manufacturer to incorporate a drive corrector and 12 volt DC operation into the "LX3" series Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope integrated circuit board. Since then, more and more manufacturers included such circuits, and other improvements thereby reducing the market for third party drive correctors. To this day, electronic drive motor and corrector accessories sold by Orion often bear the name "AccuTrack™".

Orion logo small (blue) 6,004 bytes The Optronics subsidiary "Orion" was conceived to market consumer telescopes. Their approach was to offer good quality telescopes targeting the beginner and intermediate amateur astronomer market. The marketing strategy was unprecedented in this hobby: 1. produce a beautifully illustrated catalog with wide distribution, 2. explain what is being sold in terms amateurs can relate to, 3. offer products at prices that are competitive - not always the cheapest, but then Orion has always provided service and catalogs that merit what slight difference in cost charged, 4. buy full page advertisements in popular astronomy magazines produced with a consistently professional appearance, 5. maintain a warehouse to assure prompt delivery of items ordered, and 6. offer liberal customer service policies. To this day, nobody does this any better.

Orion SkyQuest™ XT10 IntelliScope™ (51,107 Bytes) Orion offered many popular consumer lines including TeleVue, Meade Instruments, and Celestron. But in time some of the manufacturers who Orion relied upon became less vital to the Orion plan. Some were so concerned about marketing concepts that they modified they product line offerings - "new and improved" often meant "cheaper and with less accessories". In one instance, Celestron who used to distribute the Japanese made "Vixen" products dropped the entire line in favor of less capable products which could be sold at lower prices. Vixen featured well made achromatic and fluorite apochromatic telescopes (most notably the highly regarded Vixen 102 Fluorite Apochromat, some Newtonian models, and interesting accessories. Orion began to realize that for its success it should rely less on companies run by people who probably knew less than Tim. And so Orion gradually picked up products and sometimes marketed these under the "Orion" trademark, or designed and commissioned items to be made for sale under their trademark. In some areas Orion felt their products were so adequate that they no longer needed to offer products made by previous suppliers - who were now in effect Orions competitors.

Right: Orion SkyQuest™ XT10 IntelliScope™ telescope. Note the IntelliScope™ Control shown here is optional (51,107 Bytes). Click on image to see enlarged view (85,940 bytes)

Today Orion's range of accessories include items such as their well reviewed Sky Pollution Rejection Filters, Eyepieces, their unique Polyester/Nylon padded telescope soft cases, Lights Out™ observing hood, and much more. Orion developed telescopes including the original SkyQuest™ series Dobsonian Reflectors XT-6, XT-8, and XT10. And by 2003 these evolved into the highly innovative and fun to use SkyQuest™ XT-6 IntelliScope™, XT-8 IntelliScope™, and XT-10 IntelliScope™. For 2004 Orion scaled up the XT10 into a serious yet handy light bucket - the XT-12 IntelliScope™. Each of these telescopes have been rated the best in their respective class by publications, and more importantly by the amateur community and Company Seven!

Demanding amateurs choose Orion, the most demanding buy their Orion telescope at Company Seven

part of Company Seven's showroom Spring 2010

Above: a part of our Orion products display. This awaits those who make the pilgrimage to Company Seven's Laurel, MD showroom.
Shown are the XX-14, XX-12, XT-10 IntelliScope™, XT-8 IntelliScope™ and just beyond that are XT-6 IntelliScope™ and Classic XT-8.
At far left is an Orion 80 EON refracting telescope, at bottom right just barely visible are some of our smallest Orion XT-4.5 and XT-6 telescopes.
This perspective does not show the area of our showroom where we maintain other interesting Orion telescopes too.
Click on image to show enlarged view.


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