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General Scanning Discussion For general questions not specific to a model of scanner or general discussion of use of a scanner. Location specific posts should be directed to the regional forums listed below.

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Old 07-21-2010, 9:12 AM
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Question First commercially available programmable scanner?

OK old-timers and historians I'm doing some research. What was the first commercially available programmable scanner and when was it introduced? No mods, special boxes, home brew software etc. Out of the box with a cable and software, any manufacturer.
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:35 AM
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OK old-timers and historians I'm doing some research. What was the first commercially available programmable scanner and when was it introduced? No mods, special boxes, home brew software etc. Out of the box with a cable and software, any manufacturer.
IIRC correctly it was a bearcat 10 channel scanner back in the late 70's. Although I seem to remember a Regency(?) scanner you could program by changing wires and using a internal keypad about that time also that was sold at Olson electronics.
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:36 AM
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That would be the Tennelec MCP-1

Tennelec - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Picture of it found on this page:

Popular Mechanics - Google Books

Better (color) pictures, front and back:

RadioPics Database - Other Radio Scanners - Tennelec Memoryscan MCP-1
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:06 AM
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I thought the Bearcat 101 came out before those, early 80's. But weren't there some that were programmed with combs that even before that?
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:14 AM
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The FIRST "Programmable" scanner I remember that did NOT require crystals was the Regency "Whamo" scanner, model ACT-W10. It was programmed with a series of aluminum combs where teeth were broken off the combs for each particular frequency. A large 8X10 inch book came with the unit listing all the available frequencies (VHF Lo, VHF Hi and UHF) showing which teeth were to be broken off the comb for the frequencies you wanted. These combs were then plugged into one of ten slots on the rear of the unit. I bought one and still have it today -- it still works. I also bought the optional accessory box that was available whereby you could "dial up" any frequency you wanted "on the fly". This box would also plug into one of the slots where the aluminum combs would go. It was a large bulky rig with the scanner AND the optional "dial-up frequency box" each being about the size of a shoebox.

I still have the frequency programming book for programming the combs, but would like a source for the aluminum combs. For a while, Regency sold extra combs for a very reasonable price, but I haven't seen them offered in decades!

This is a true museum piece by today's standards, but at the time, it was a great scanner set-up. One major advantage of this rig was its ability NOT TO LOSE memory if the power failed!

I believe this model was introduced in 1976, give - or take - a year.

Tom, KR4BD
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Last edited by KR4BD; 07-21-2010 at 11:36 AM..
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkipSanders View Post
That would be the Tennelec MCP-1

Tennelec - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Picture of it found on this page:

Popular Mechanics - Google Books

Better (color) pictures, front and back:

RadioPics Database - Other Radio Scanners - Tennelec Memoryscan MCP-1
You win!

Here's a good article about scanners through time:

Strong Signals - Scanner Radio Review Briefs
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:11 PM
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KR4BD got it right... :-)
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkipSanders View Post
That would be the Tennelec MCP-1

Tennelec - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Picture of it found on this page:

Popular Mechanics - Google Books

Better (color) pictures, front and back:

RadioPics Database - Other Radio Scanners - Tennelec Memoryscan MCP-1
That "Regency" scanner pictured just below the Tennelec (on the middle link) looks just like a Bearcat aircraft scanner I use to have. It quit working in the early 90's.
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K4IHS View Post
KR4BD got it right... :-)
From Bob Parness article I cited:

TENNELEC Manufactured the first synthesized scanners. See US patents
3,961,261 and 3,962,644, granted 6/1/76 and 6/8/76

WHAMO-10: Regency's first synthesized scanner. Appearance
more like a crystal scanner, with a single LED per channel.
User has to break off teeth on a metal 'comb' for each
channel according to a code book. See US patent 4,057,760,
granted 11/8/77.
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Old 07-21-2010, 2:01 PM
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The WHAMO-10 was patented 1 year after the MCP-1. I believe it came out about a half year after the MCP-1, at retail.
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Old 07-21-2010, 2:07 PM
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Question Programmable with cable or not?

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Originally Posted by Oldglide View Post
OK old-timers and historians I'm doing some research. What was the first commercially available programmable scanner .... Out of the box with a cable and software, any manufacturer.
Because you mention cable and software, it sounds like you want to know the first scanner that can be programmed via a computer. That would be different than the first programmable scanner (programmed via 1s and 0s).
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Old 07-21-2010, 2:19 PM
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If we're talking about using software and a cable, then at the very least, the BC245 has to be in there somewhere. I'm unsure if the PRO-92 preceded it, but it's definitely in that area....73 Mike
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Old 07-21-2010, 4:03 PM
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Not wanting to date myself, but if you are talking about Software and cable to program the scanner, it would have to be the Bearcat Compuscan CP2100. Yes, I still have one.
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Old 07-21-2010, 4:40 PM
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Not wanting to date myself, but if you are talking about Software and cable to program the scanner, it would have to be the Bearcat Compuscan CP2100. Yes, I still have one.
I vaguely remember this scanner. Did the software come on a 5.25 inch floppy or IBM punch cards?

Found this about it:

Electra Compuscan Computer controlled Scanning receiver was original designed for the US Government/Military when they approached Bearcat to design a "State of the Art Surveillance scanning communications receiver for the standard "FM" mode bands 29 to 512 MHz" in the late 1970's or early 80's that could be externally controlled and log useful information. It was to be used for Military and Police Surveillance with "Block Box Technology". The US Government came to Bearcat because they were innovators in Scanning receivers (one of the first to make a programmable "Crystal less scanner"). Bearcat agreed but they also wanted to make it available to the general public. The Government wanted it exclusive for official use and that slowly soured the deal. Most people agree that it was years ahead of it's time as shown by the ICOM PCR1000 and Winradio External series radios today. Also the US military NOW use the ICOM receivers in there remote control drones in Iraq and other applications. Only a few were manufactured between 1983 and 1984 mainly for Consumer shows including the prototypes but some were sold to the general public. They were planning to add the 800 MHz band and include more PC control interfaces/software. The Apple, C64 and last the IBM PC interfaces did make it in production. It was Rumored that it cost more to make the CP2100 then they were selling it for (they were taking a BIG loss to promote new technology). The US government dropped out of the deal leaving Bearcat in a hard spot with a lot of money gone into R&D and no interest in both government and public sectors. For a short time Bearcat advertised the Radio to the general public but people were wondering what to do with computers and didn't see the need for tying up an expensive computer...
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Old 07-21-2010, 4:59 PM
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YouTube video of CP2100: YouTube - Bearcat Electra Compuscan CP2100 computer controlled scanner
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Old 07-21-2010, 8:57 PM
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Going back to the Regency "Whamo" (Model ACT-W10) mentioned above... I dug out all the manuals and frequency programming book for the frequency combs and found everything is dated October 1975. It may have been patented after this date, but I am almost sure this is about the time I bought it. Even the optional Digital Frequency Selector (Model DFS-5K) manual is dated 10-75. I bought the ACT-W10 from Graham Electronics in Indianapolis if my memory is correct. I did not get the DFS-5K until 1980 when I was visiting Amateur Electronic Supply in Milwaukee. They had stacks of these units on a "closeout" table for only $69 each which was a fraction of their original retail price. I still have the receipt for the DFS-5K. When I bought it, the salesperson asked if I was interested in buying multiples "at an even better price" because you could use more than one of them at a time.... They must have had a bunch of them, but the ACT-W10 scanners were LONG GONE at that point.

The "Whamo" may not have been the first programmable scanner available, but it was the FIRST Crystal-Less Model I ever saw and I knew I HAD TO HAVE ONE. I was tired of buying Crystals at $4 or $5 a pop!!!

The only complaint I ever had with the "Whamo" was its internal DC power supply was awfully noisy with 60 cycle hum if you powered it directly from the household AC power. However, I easily by-passed this problem by connecting it to a well filtered 12 VDC power supply and still use it today.
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:24 PM
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Really neat reading the old Popular Mechanics article.
They mention monitoring mobile telephone channels.
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:25 PM
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I bought a brand-new Tennelec MCP-1 which was a wonder...no crystals, no punch cards, no combs. IIRC, it was $425.00 and there was no provision for 12VDC mobile use.

The antenna was a stiff piece of wire with an RCA plug.

When it was working, it got so hot the glue holding the little stick-on button 'legs' melted off.

It was in the shop more than in the shack.

Finally traded it for a Unimetrics Digiscan-8 xtal unit which was built like a tank and performed flawlessly.
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Old 07-22-2010, 7:23 AM
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While we are on firsts, I know there was a previous post on the first scanner made, I don't believe the question was truely answered. My response since I had one was the Peterson H/L 44. I got one around late 1971 or early 1972. Later that year I bought a Radio Shack VHF HI only. Anybody up for a challenge to find out?
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Old 07-22-2010, 2:45 PM
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MA88, PROGRAMMING COMB FOR REGENCY WHAMO 10 SCANNER - Scanner World - The Largest Dealer of Scanning Radios in the World

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I still have the frequency programming book for programming the combs, but would like a source for the aluminum combs. For a while, Regency sold extra combs for a very reasonable price, but I haven't seen them offered in decades!




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