§ 5.2. Competition Intensifies
Gregory Gross

§ 5.2. Competition Intensifies

On This Page

  1. Celestron and the Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope
  2. Optical Techniques Incorporated and the Quantum Telescope
  3. Small Catadioptric Imitators

Over the years, Questar had always faced competition. Companies like Unitron, Criterion, and many others produced refractors and reflectors that were typical for their day. But Questar had little trouble distinguishing its catadioptric telescope from those other more conventional designs. In the early 1960s, other manufacturers like Vega Instrument Company, Tinsley Laboratories, Thermoelectric Devices, Inc., and Cell Optical Industries introduced small Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes. But none of them truly succeeded, and they never seriously threatened Questar’s business. For a number of years, the company in New Hope had the market for its unique kind of telescope largely to itself.

In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, however, more serious competitors emerged. Some proved more lasting than others.

Celestron and the Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

Questar’s first major source of competition emerged in the 1960s when Tom Johnson began and developed Celestron and his revolutionary line of Schmidt-Cassegrains. In their wake, the telescope market would never be the same. In particular, Celestron’s C8 was such a revolutionary success that it forever transformed the world of amateur astronomy.

Tom Johnson and the Emergence of Celestron

Born in January 1923, Tom Johnson served as a radar technician during World War II before pursuing a career in the electronics industry. In 1955 at the age of 33, he established Valor Electronics in Gardenia, California. The company produced components for military and industrial customers. By the early 1960s, his company had over one hundred employees.[1]

While he built his electronics company, Johnson also developed an interest in amateur astronomy. After purchasing a couple of Newtonian reflectors, he built his own eight-inch f/4 reflector and, later, a twelve-inch Cassegrain telescope.[2] Looking for something to put into the hands of his two young sons but dissatisfied with his options on the market, Johnson also built a six-inch reflector.[3]

Front cover of the March 1963 issue of <em>Sky and Telescope</em>
The front cover of the March 1963 issue of Sky and Telescope featured Tom Johnson’s 18 3/4-inch Cassegrain telescope. Sky and Telescope

A thoroughgoing entrepreneur whose hobby suggested to him that a business opportunity awaited, Johnson created the “Astro-Optical” division within Valor Electronics in 1960. He continued to develop his ideas. Remembering his experience building his twelve-inch telescope, Johnson started work on an 18 3/4-inch Cassegrain that he designed for maximum transportability. To reduce its weight, he had a ribbed pattern sandblasted into the telescope’s three-inch-thick mirror blank. A user could disassemble the entire setup—telescope and fork mount—and pack it into a car in fifteen minutes. In January 1962, Johnson brought his telescope to a Los Angeles Astronomical Society star party, where it drew significant attention. Sky and Telescope took notice, too. The magazine put Johnson’s Cassegrain on its front cover for March 1963.[4]

Not long after his unique telescope caused a stir among the members of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, Johnson had his ear to the ground for other ideas. In the April 1962 issue of Sky and Telescope, he encountered Donald Willey’s article entitled “Cassegrain-Type Telescopes.” Alongside numerous illustrations, Willey discussed several designs: the true Cassegrain, the Dall-Kirkham, the Ritchey-Chretien, and the Maksutov-Cassegrain. “The last and most complex member of the Cassegrain family that I have examined,” he continued to write, “is the Schmidt-Cassegrain.” It shared several features with Maksutov’s design: it was compact, its spherical primary mirror was relatively easy to figure, its secondary mirror was mounted on the corrector lens and thus eliminated spider diffraction, it showed less field curvature than a true Cassegrain, its chromatic aberration was negligible, and its off-axis performance was excellent. But the Schmidt-Cassegrain’s design also called for a relatively complex aspheric corrector lens and secondary mirror. Its “construction is one step more difficult than that of a Maksutov, because an additional surface has to be made and figured. But the thickness and radii of curvature are not nearly as critical in Schmidt optics.”[5]

Tom Johnson was undoubtedly aware not only of Maksutov’s design but also of Questar’s status as its premier representation on the commercial market. The existence of another design that had certain advantages over the Maksutov-Cassegrain but that was still relatively easy to produce surely intrigued him. Yet it seemed that no one had thought to put a line of Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes into mass production.

Johnson decided to act. With his recent experience building his 18 3/4-inch Cassegrain still fresh in his memory—and perhaps still remembering whatever difficulties he encountered in figuring its optics—Johnson made plans for something new. Within a few years, he finally had something to share with the world.

Celestron advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, January 1964
The first advertisement for the Astro-Optical Division of Valor Electronics appeared in the January 1964 issue of Sky and Telescope. Celestron

In the January 1964 issue of Sky and Telescope, Johnson made a bold move. With plans to use Perkin-Elmer Corporation as his optics supplier, he ran a full-page advertisement for a formidable twenty-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope he called the Celestronic 20. Depicting it in an environment that resembled a professional observatory far more than an amateur’s backyard, Johnson highlighted the versatility and relative compactness of the instrument. But its price remained a mystery.[6]

As 1964 progressed, Johnson continued to develop his commercial telescope operation. The “Astro-Optical Division” part of Valor Electronics evolved into Celestron Pacific. Not long after that, Johnson dropped Valor’s name entirely. He also dispensed with his earlier plans to work with Perkin-Elmer and began making his own optics. Significantly, he developed a process for mass producing the corrector lens for his Schmidt-Cassegrains.[7] Overcoming the complexity of figuring this key optical element, Johnson and his colleague John O’Rourke used a vacuum that pulled a lens blank across a master block while a polisher ground a flat surface on its other side. When the vacuum was released, the lens had the correct shape.[8]

Celestron advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, April 1965
Celestron Pacific’s advertisement in the April 1965 issue of Sky and Telescope featured the company’s various offerings. Celestron

By the end of 1964, Johnson’s company was offering Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes whose apertures ranged from four to 22 inches.[9] In the days when J.W. Fecker’s advertisements regularly featured massive professional instruments that were obviously beyond the means of any amateur, Celestron announced that its telescopes were far closer to being within reach. In the December 1964 issue of Sky and Telescope, the company boasted that “it no longer takes a quarter million dollar grant or federal aid to equip an observatory with a modern catadioptric telescope of large aperture.” Describing the advantages of the Schmidt-Cassegrain over conventional Cassegrain instruments and their parabolic primary mirrors, the company highlighted the way that it left the primary mirror spherical. Having developed a way to produce “the delicate aspheric figure of the corrector plate” using “specially developed manufacturing techniques and a test system sufficiently sensitive to detect 1/100th wave errors, Celestron produces corrector plates of perfectly smooth figure, free of wedge or other astigmatic effects.”[10]

Celestron advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, July 1968
In the July 1968 issue of Sky and Telescope, Celestron advertised its ten-, sixteen-, and 22-inch SCTs. Celestron

In the late 1960s, Celestron ran other advertisements featuring the company’s SCTs. In the July 1968 issue of Sky and Telescope, for instance, Celestron promoted the “three most popular instruments of its extensive line.” The 10-, 16-, and 22-inch models were priced at $2000, $11,500, and $29,500, respectively. The price of the larger 16- and 22-inch telescopes, which Celestron quite clearly targeted to institutional observatories, included “on-site instruction.” The company mentioned in small print towards the bottom of the ad that prices for their telescopes started at $380.[11]

Perhaps drunk on his own early success, Tom Johnson went so far as to meet with Marguerite Braymer, John Schneck, and Paul Schenkle in the late 1960s to propose a merger between Celestron and Questar. Mrs. Braymer promptly turned him down.[12] Undeterred, Johnson continued to develop something that his competitor could not brush off and ignore.

The Celestron 8

Up until the time that Tom Johnson made his bold merger proposal, Questar perhaps saw Celestron as an interloper who warranted little if any engagement. While the company in New Hope steadily continued to build its signature 3.5-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, Celestron seemed mostly to be engaged with developing its line of large Schmidt-Cassegrains that were destined for life in a professional observatory. As a new decade approached, the situation was about to change dramatically.

Throughout the late 1960s, Tom Johnson continued to ponder how to expand his market share. He and his colleagues reasoned that an eight-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain priced under $1000 would hit the sweet spot in terms of compactness, portability, and aperture. Perhaps noticing Questar’s success with making accommodations for photography, Johnson also believed that this new telescope should work with a camera as easily as possible.[13]

Celestron advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, January 1971
The advertisement announcing the Celestron 8 in Sky and Telescope. Celestron

What emerged was the Celestron 8, which made its first appearance in the June 1970 issue of Sky and Telescope. The advertisement’s copy opened with a simple question: “What are the features of the optimum large but portable telescope?” It must have sufficient aperture to show faint objects well and to render detail at high magnification with sufficient brightness. It must have an electric drive and setting circles built into the mount. It must have a closed-tube system that contributed to carefree maintenance. It must be portable and easy to set up quickly. And it must be priced under one thousand dollars “so that the people who would like to use it can afford it!” The advertisement listed its “full price” at $850.[14] Compared to a 10-inch Celestron, which the company had offered without a pier for $1875 only a month before,[15] the C8 was substantially less expensive. The price of Celestron’s new eight-inch SCT was also not far off from the $1065 that Questar asked for a Standard Questar with Pyrex mirror and magnesium-fluoride coatings. But the C8 had most of the features that Questar offered, and the fact that it could gather more than five times as much light as the 3.5-inch Questar for over two hundred dollars less was unavoidable.

The C8 was an immediate success. Seemingly overnight, as Dennis di Cicco wrote, “it set the pattern for all the amateur Schmidt-Cassegrains that would follow in the coming decades from Celestron, its competitor Meade Instruments, and others.”[16]

Celestron advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, January 1972
Celestron’s outside back cover ad in the January 1972 issue of Sky and Telescope. Celestron

During the early 1970s, the proliferation of Celestron’s advertising matched the success of its C8. Beginning with the January 1972 issue of Sky and Telescope, Celestron took over the magazine’s outside back cover, which Unitron had occupied for decades. By this point in time, the company had begun offering not only the C8 but also a smaller and more portable C5.[17] Before long, Celestron began running multiple advertisements in each issue of Sky and Telescope. In June 1973, for instance, it mimicked Questar’s earlier advertisements by featuring a large and dense block of text with institutional clients who had purchased a Celestron telescope.[18] On the magazine’s back cover, the company ran another advertisement which promoted its five-, eight-, and fourteen-inch SCTs.[19]

In the 1980s, Celestron maintained its prominence not only in Sky and Telescope but also in the relatively new Astronomy magazine, whose circulation had increased since it began publishing in 1973.[20]

Celestron advertisement, <em>Astronomy</em>, October 1982
Celestron advertisement in the October 1982 issue of Astronomy magazine. Celestron

Celestron and Questar approached their advertising in markedly different ways. On the outside back cover of both Sky and Telescope and Astronomy for October 1982, Celestron ran an advertisement featuring an attractive model using a camera and her C8 to engage in high-caliber astrophotography. The impressive image of the Orion Nebula that appeared above her telescope suggested what was possible.[21]

That same month, Questar used its advertising space that same month to communicate more traditional messages. On the inside front cover of Sky and Telescope, the company suggested that “a Questar 3 1/2 is an enjoyable family instrument as well as a great astronomical telescope.”[22] In Astronomy magazine, it reflected on how “one thing leads to another here at Questar.” Using rather staid language, the company described the way in which its existing line of telescopes served as the basis for instruments designed for special applications in laboratory settings.[23] The two approaches could scarcely have been more different.

Celestron advertisement, <em>Astronomy</em>, December 1982
Celestron advertisement in the December 1982 issue of Astronomy magazine. Celestron

Two months later, Celestron continued to make a splash by running an advertisement that featured Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock on Star Trek. It delivered a simple message from the actor: “When I explore the real universe, I use precision optics from Celestron.”[24]

The use of celebrity testimonials served as still another point of contrast with the marketing approach of Questar, who rarely if ever used a direct celebrity endorsement in all of its years of magazine advertising in spite of the fact that many famous individuals were genuine and loyal Questar owners.

Since the Questar Seven made its debut toward the end of 1967, Celestron’s C8 was the first high-profile catadioptric telescope to appear on the market with a generous amount of aperture. Although the C8’s price point was well below that of even the Standard Questar, it gathered more than five times as much light. Not long after made its first appearance in 1970, the C8 was destined to assume a leading role in amateur astronomy. It reset the thinking of amateur astronomers, and it brought the prospect of substantially larger aperture in a well-made catadioptric design—or perhaps one that was good enough—within reach.

Questar’s Response to the Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

Ironically, Questar had never seen its 3.5-inch telescope as something that existed in the same league as larger instruments. As early as August 1965, the company maintained that the Questar telescope “was not designed to supplant larger telescopes, but to supplement them. It is for taking with you wherever you go, to explore further not only the heavens, but also this lovely planet on which we so fortunately find ourselves.”[25]

But comparisons between Questar’s 3.5-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain and Celestron’s new eight-inch catadioptric telescope were inevitable. Within a short time, Celestron had established itself as a dominant player in the amateur telescope market. No longer able to ignore it, Questar finally addressed the emergence of this new company and its Schmidt-Cassegrain, the jack of all trades in amateur astronomy.

Questar advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, September 1973
The versatile Questar “does it all.” Questar Corporation

In Sky and Telescope for August 1973, Questar claimed that its telescope “does it all.” The company asked, “Do you want to observe in comfort, photograph what you see, carry your ‘portable observatory’ in one hand, use it at night and day, wherever you are, as your most convenient and versatile tool?” Reflecting on the explosion of choices that had recently become available to amateur astronomers, Questar admitted that the choice was not an easy one. “Should it be a reflector, a refractor, or one of the new catadioptric (mixed lens-mirror) systems? How big? Should you buy a lot of aperture and skimp on mounting, or vice versa? Should it be portable, semiportable, or permanently mounted with some sort of shelter?” With answers for these questions at the ready, Questar invited readers to send for its new leaflet entitled “On the Problem of Choosing a Telescope.”[26]

In that brochure, whose title echoed that of a series of advertisements that first appeared in August 1957,[27] Questar took direct aim at the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. The company reiterated much of what it had already written about the drawbacks of conventional reflectors and refractors: cumbersome equatorial mountings, false color, limited usefulness for examining nearby objects, and so forth. As “a logical extension of the Schmidt camera,” the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope had potential to offer “superior performance.” But its “inability to perform is not difficult to understand when the elements of the system are examined.” The secondary mirror presents a number of problems. “Since it is necessary to adjust the secondary mirror for system alignment, the mounting cell becomes disproportionately large with the controls it must afford, and substantially reduces the over-all light grasp and imaging contrast of the system.” In addition, the relatively large secondary mirror assembly “can cause stress in the thin corrector lens to such an extent that image quality is seriously affected. Finally, regardless of which mounting method is chosen, the observer is continually faced with the annoying need to collimate a three-element system, a task which can only be described as difficult at best.”[28]

But the Maksutov-Cassegrain, as Questar continued to argue, suffered from none of these problems. With its thick meniscus corrector lens and its secondary mirror, which consisted simply of a silvered spot on the lens itself, the design eliminated all of the problems that plague Schmidt-Cassegrain instruments. The Questar telescope “astonished everyone” since it was introduced to the market in 1954, and it “established the superfine small telescope on a new level of serious respect.”[29]

Questar advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, November 1976
Questar talked about collimation with respect to SCTs. Questar Corporation

Questar continued to feel the pressure that Celestron’s Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes had continued to exert on the market. In another advertisement that began to appear in July 1976, Questar expressed almost a sense of bewilderment with the thought that, after more than twenty years of continuous advertising in Sky and Telescope, readers were unaware of what the company had been saying all that time about its products. Among all the other benefits of owning a Questar was “its freedom from the collimation annoyance.” The company asked, “How often have you compared the telescopes at a sky party and wondered about the strangely shaped images you have seen in some instruments, while their owners apologized for their being out of collimation?” Schmidt-Cassegrains not only lose their collimation over time but also are prone to further misalignment as a result of the weight of the secondary distorting the thin corrector plate. “On the other hand, a Maksutov corrector plate is thick, has strong spherical curves, and has its secondary mirror as a metallized spot on the glass. There is no mechanical strain on what is a much studier optic.”[30]

Questar advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, December 1976
Questar reproduced a testimonial from Jim Brant that questioned the ability of a Schmidt-Cassegrain to resolve as well as a Questar telescope. Questar Corporation

Later that year, Questar continued to challenge the Schmidt-Cassegrain on another front: resolution. In its advertisement in the December 1976, the company relayed a letter from Jim Brant, a member of a local astronomy group in Miami, Florida, who regularly travelled to a dark-sky site in Everglades National Park. Brant owned an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain “which I had purchased, expecting better performance overall.” Encountering a new member who brought with him his 3.5-inch Questar, the group joked with the member, questioning why he would spend such a large amount of money on such a small instrument. At their next star party, the group took Brant’s SCT, a number of the club’s Newtonian reflectors ranging up to 12.5-inches in aperture, and the other member’s Questar. “From my first look through Questar,” Brant wrote, “I was hooked! The dumbbell shape of M27 in Vulpecula was obvious even at 80x, and the globular cluster in M4 in Scorpio was resolved right across the center, using 160x.” But the biggest surprise came with a tight double in Gemini, each component separated by 0.9 seconds of arc. The Questar cleanly split them, but the SCT barely showed them as separate stars. “Needless to say, I used the Questar for the rest of the night, even though the seeing was superb.... As a result of the fact that both scopes were in perfect collimation (the Questar’s being fixed, of course) and that the seeing was so good, I decided that for me at least, the Questar is a better investment, and a ten year guarantee says a lot more about a company and its product than a one year [warranty] ever could.”[31]

Questar advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, August 1988
Greet Mars with a Questar and avoid having to collimate a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Questar Corporation

Questar’s criticism about the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope continued into the late 1980s. In anticipation of the late-summer Mars opposition, Questar asked its readers in August 1988 whether they were prepared to view the planet and all its details. “Only Questar superb optics will delineate these features for you. And you won’t have to spend part of your observing time collimating a Questar.” Later, the company went on to say, “We wonder why people put up with telescopes that are always out of collimation. On a clear, still night who wants to be tinkering around with those three screws? How much precious time is wasted in this exercise in frustration? And how often are the times when no friend is around to help?” But the Questar never needs collimation. It simply slips out of its case ready to go with all accessories built in to the telescope.[32]

Almost three years later, Questar encouraged readers of Sky and Telescope to “pit us against your 8 inch SCT. None can match our optical tolerances, which guarantee 1/8 wave minimum, peak to peak. Our Maksutov design and custom workmanship allow us to exceed diffraction limited performance in every instrument.” Repeating its longtime theme of convenience and portability, the company went on to say that, “if you want to use a telescope anytime, take a Questar. It will make you wonder why you brought that big SCT to the party in the first place.”[33]

Questar made its most sustained case against the Schmidt-Cassegrain in its 1992 brochure entitled “Choosing a Telescope,” which was largely authored by Rodger Gordon, a longtime friend of the company. First, there was the matter of the difficulty of putting the Schmidt-Cassegrain design into mass production. In spite of its promise for superb performance, he wrote, SCTs are difficult to manufacture well. There is little if any room for error when figuring a complex corrector lens that calls for a fourth order curve. It was for this reason that Maksutov’s design, which employs a lens that corrects for spherical aberration by means of a spherical curve that is far easier to manufacture, was so groundbreaking. SCT manufacturers are able to offer their telescopes at relatively low prices only because they merely approximate the fourth order curve that the Schmidt design calls for.[34]

Second, Gordon repeated that frequent point of criticism Questar had been making for years: collimation. While an SCT’s secondary mirror, which which requires its own figuring, must be collimated, the Questar is permanently collimated because it has a secondary spot applied directly to the corrector lens surface.[35]

Third, Gordon emphasized how all the components in a telescope—optical and mechanical components—function together as one system. While SCT manufacturers may claim one-tenth-wave optics, they fail to account for total system performance, which may only reach half-wave. On the other hand, Questar tests each component so that they individually attain one-fiftieth-wave performance and achieve one-eighth-wave performance when they are all put together.[36]

Fourth, the question of whether larger apertures on their own will translate into better performance was subject to debate. Experienced telescope users know that larger apertures are more prone to the effects of poor seeing. In this respect, whatever advantage a larger aperture will present are cancelled out by atmospheric turbulence. Questars routinely delivered better resolution than the average eight-inch SCT due largely to their ability to handle typical seeing conditions better.[37]

And fifth, Gordon maintained that whatever advantage a larger aperture may have over a Standard Questar is often cancelled out because the larger instrument often has poor internal baffling. Allowing light to scatter resulted in washed-out light-to-dark transitions and poor image contrast.[38]

By the end of the 1980s, Celestron and Meade would make Questar’s task of criticizing the shortcomings of the Schmidt-Cassegrain much easier. During and after the fever over Halley’s Comet, both companies produced SCTs of infamously poor quality as they rushed to meet soaring demand for telescopes. Soon, the design earned a reputation—an unwarranted one, some say—for poor optical performance.

At the same time, however, there was no doubt that the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope was here to stay. Its ability to deliver the benefits of big aperture to observers for a fraction of the cost of a small Questar put the onus of justifying that cost on the company in New Hope. It had to work harder to make its case in favor of a telescope it had produced with exacting standards and an insistence on quality since 1954.

Optical Techniques Incorporated and the Quantum Telescope

While Questar was busy dealing with the challenge from Celestron and the appearance of their Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, discontentment was brewing within its own ranks.

Departures from Questar

Since the earliest days of Questar, John Schneck had been Lawrence Braymer’s right-hand man. He managed the production side of the business and eventually earned the title of vice president. After Braymer’s death in December 1965, his wife Marguerite took over the company. But Schneck continued to play a key role. Most notably, he helped realize Lawrence Braymer’s vision for a seven-inch Questar telescope, whose concept had first emerged in the late 1950s before stalling as a result of Braymer’s failing health.[39]

Under the direction of Marguerite Braymer, Questar had taken a more cautious, slow, and incremental approach to the way that the company handled product development. She enabled Schneck to finalize his development of her late husband’s idea for a Questar Seven and bring it to production. But perhaps reluctant to endanger the commercial success that she and Lawrence had worked so hard to build, Marguerite allowed little more than the introduction of new accessories that friends of the company helped develop. The company’s core product—its 3.5-inch Standard Questar—retained the form it had always had since its introduction to the market in 1954.

Marguerite Braymer never forgot the enormous personal risk that she and Lawrence had taken when they started Questar Corporation in 1950. While her husband pushed forward with design, development, and production during the company’s first few years, Marguerite helped out where she could. She kept the financial books in order, managed the office, and even assisted with tested instruments when they were complete. On top of this, she worked freelance writing jobs to make ends meet. “We needed the money,” she later remembered.[40]

John Schneck undoubtedly knew about Marguerite Braymer’s professional background. Following a stint in the advertising industry, she became decorating editor at Woman’s Day magazine in the mid-1940s, where she remained until 1953. Between 1950 and 1954, she also wrote for a variety of magazines including House Beautiful, Better Homes and Gardens, and Country Gentleman.[41] And she published two books: America’s Homemaking Book (1957) and America’s Cookbook (1963).[42]

From Schneck’s point of view, Marguerite Braymer’s resume hardly qualified her to lead a company that designed and built precision optics. At the same time, he remembered his own deep and longtime involvement not only in making the Questar Seven a reality but also in guiding all other aspects of production since the company’s earliest days. A mounting sense of frustration must have gnawed at him.

Given the deep sense of investment both John Schneck and Marguerite Braymer had, perhaps it was inevitable that ill will would emerge between the two. On one hand, he had around two decades of deep experience building most of what Questar sold. He was also keenly aware of the changes that were underway in the amateur astronomy market. On the other hand, she had lasting memories of the lean days of the early 1950s when her husband worked ceaselessly to build a successful company while she herself did her best to support him.

John Schneck perhaps failed to remember and acknowledge the depth of Mrs. Braymer’s personal investment in the company. Marguerite Braymer perhaps failed to remember and acknowledge how closely Schneck worked with her husband and his deep expertise in all of Questar’s work.

But at the end of the day, it was Marguerite Braymer’s company. Her word was final.[43]

As the 1970s progressed, John Schneck became more dissatisfied. He was not the only one to feel that way. Robert Richardson, who had become sales manager at Questar,[44] had also been growing frustrated. Both surely realized how Celestron’s intensifying competition represented a growing threat to Questar’s sales. Perhaps both felt hamstrung by Mrs. Braymer’s unwillingness to adapt to the times. From her perspective, however, she believed the company had always been on the right course both before and after she took over managing it.

The catalyzing moment came when Marguerite Braymer decided to hire Douglas Knight in 1976. Twenty years later in a conversation with journalist Barry Kawa, Knight recalled his feeling that Schneck and Richardson had been trying to edge Marguerite Braymer out of the company before his arrival. When Knight came onboard, however, the two men realized that perhaps the time had come to seize control of their own fate. After having spent decades building experience at Questar, Schneck and Richardson both felt they could do a better job in a company of their own making. They resolved to strike out on their own.[45] They were about to gain a first-hand appreciation of all the implications of their decision.

The Quantum Telescope

In April 1977, John Schneck and Robert Richardson formed Optical Techniques Incorporated.[46] The two eventually set up shop at facilities in Newtown, Pennsylvania. The location was only a 13-mile drive 23 minutes southeast of Questar’s headquarters in New Hope. Although the timing of his departure from Questar is unclear, Paul Shenkle also joined Schneck and Richardson as OTI’s sales manager.

With their new company established, Schneck and Richardson turned to designing a new telescope, one that had many of the same features as the Questar but had all of its quality at the price of a Celestron.[47] They replicated the best concepts from Lawrence Braymer’s design, and they introduced enhancements they felt were far overdue.[48]

Quantum Four
The Quantum Four. Optical Techniques Incorporated

By the summer of 1977, Schneck and Richardson had completed enough work for them to begin their marketing efforts. In August, they printed a promotional flyer entitled “The Quantum Series of Maksutov Cassegrain Telescopes.” Two telescopes emerged: the Quantum Four and the Quantum Six. The primary mirror for both was figured not at f/2 but instead at f/2.5. Doing so afforded a wider diffraction-limited field and enhanced contrast by means of a smaller central obstruction. The mount featured a single-arm design that its maker claimed was highly stable, an electric clock drive, setting circles, an optional set of tabletop tripod legs, and the ability to attach to any tripod with 1/4-20 threads—all features of the Questar. The back of the optical tube assembly included an internal 1.75x Barlow lens, a movable mirror diagonal for using the telescope visually using an eyepiece mounted on the topside of the telescope or photographically using a rear-mounted camera, and a focus knob—again, features that mimicked the Questar. The Quantum Four accepted standard 1.25-inch eyepieces while the Quantum Six accepted two-inch eyepieces. Both included a single 16mm University Optics Konig eyepiece, an instruction book, and a fitted case.[49]

The parallels between the Questar and the Quantum telescopes did not end with the many features they held in common. Schneck and Richardson turned to the very same supplier that Questar had used for its optics since the late 1950s: J.R. Cumberland.[50]

But while the Quantum telescope had characteristics that would appeal to an engineer in the mid-1970s, it had none of the flourishes that made it as beautiful as the telescope created by Lawrence Braymer, who was an artist as much as he was a tinkerer and self-taught engineer.

Optical Techniques Incorporated advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, August 1977
OTI’s first advertisement appeared in the August 1977 issue of Sky and Telescope. Optical Techniques Incorporated

OTI began their marketing campaign by running a small advertisement in the August 1977 issue of Sky and Telescope. If you are considering the purchase of “a compact multipurpose catadioptric telescope, you owe it to yourself” to have a look at a new line of Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes that were to make an appearance in Sky and Telescope the following month. In a thinly veiled shot at both Questar and Celestron, OTI wrote, “Until now you have been faced with paying a premium price for the superior performance of a Maksutov or settling for the compromises of the more moderately priced Schmidt systems. But now, thanks to modern technology, much planning, and a lot of hard work, you can acquire an instrument of superior optical and mechanical quality at a most reasonable cost.”[51]

Optical Techniques Incorporated advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, September 1977
OTI’s first full-page advertisement appeared in the September 1977 issue of Sky and Telescope. Optical Techniques Incorporated

The promised introduction of the Quantum telescope came the next month. With two images depicting a telescope on a one-armed mount and cylindrical base that bore striking resemblance to the Questar, the September 1977 advertisement in Sky and Telescope began by declaring that “Optical Techniques, Inc., was formed a short time ago by John Schneck, former Vice-President of Questar Corporation, and Robert Richardson, who was Sales Manager of that company. Together they have a combined total of 30 years experience in the design, production, and sale of high-quality Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes. In addition, many of their staff have wide experience with these and similar instruments.”[52] By drawing a clear link between themselves and their long tenure at Questar, Schneck and Richardson sought to establish their credibility on firm ground. But using their debut moment to declare that they had recently broken with Questar also demonstrated how difficult it was to step completely out of the shadow of their former employer. It also suggested their lingering sense of frustration. It was an odd way to introduce themselves to the market.

In that first full-page advertisement, Schneck and Richardson ostensibly sought to make the Maksutov-Cassegrain design within financial reach of most amateur astronomers, who until that point had been faced with the choice of either paying a large sum of money for a commercially-made instrument or engaging in the difficult process of building it themselves. Highlighting the Quantum’s f/15 design and its relatively small 33% central obstruction, OTI boasted that it had made “no compromises in optical or mechanical design.” The quality of its instruments “equals or surpasses that of the best examples of commercially produced catadioptric Cassegrain telescopes available today.”[53]

Over the next few years, OTI introduced other products and options:

  • The Quantum 100, an unmounted four-inch optical tube assembly that used the same optics as the Quantum Four but that could be used on any tripod (November 1978).[54]
  • Special enhanced optical coatings (November 1979).[55]
  • A conversion kit that enabled owners to attach a Quantum telescope to a Unitron equatorial mount (January 1980).[56]
  • Instruments for special applications including the Model IR-100, a four-inch f/10 instrument made of Invar; the Model 18016-DP, a seven-inch f/15 system; the Model 15015-M, a six-inch telescope for long-range surveillance; and the Model TVS-500, a 12-inch system meant for low-light television applications (March 1980).[57]
  • The Quantum Eight, an eight-inch f/15 instrument (May 1980).[58]
  • Optics sets from the four-, six-, and eight-inch Quantum telescopes for amateur telescope makers to incorporate into barrels of their own construction (May 1980).[59]
Optical Techniques Incorporated advertisement, <em>Astronomy</em>, October 1979
Quality remained the most important factor for OTI in its October 1979 advertisement in Astronomy magazine. Optical Techniques Incorporated

Like Questar, OTI used its magazine advertisements, which appeared regularly in Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazines, to stress the optical and mechanical quality of their Quantum telescopes. Once advertisement that appeared in October 1979 was typical. Under the headline “Quality Remains the Most Important Factor,” the copy addressed the matter of mass-produced optics. “Certain highly regarded telescope manufacturers would have us believe they discovered large-volume, low-cost production techniques which facilitate rapid generation and fast polishing of large optical surfaces while maintaining high quality.” But high-quality optical systems, OTI continued to argue, have never been and will never be inexpensive. Superior systems must be hand figured and tested for them to yield good performance.[60] The Quantum telescope was an expensive and high-quality instrument, OTI ensured its readers, but not quite as expensive as another high-end Maksutov-Cassegrain.

The company also made frequent use of testimonials in its advertising. In October 1977, the month after it ran its first full-page advertisement in Sky and Telescope, OTI took a page from its competitor’s marketing playbook and featured a written testimonial from longtime Questar owner Rodger Gordon. Writing about his experience testing the Quantum Four on Delta Cygni and Zeta Bootis, two close double stars, Gordon praised the optical performance of his test instrument. It performed superbly with resolving fine lunar features and Jupiter’s cloud belts better than his “3½-inch Maksutov.” Deep-sky objects appeared equally satisfying in the Quantum. “I’ve used many telescopes and own several instruments besides my 3½-inch Questar,” Gordon concluded, “and I’ve also tested several commercial Schmidt-Cassegrains.” Praising what OTI had created, he wrote that “you have the finest optical and mechanical quality of any telescope I’ve ever used. I will not hesitate to recommend your telescope for any observing situation.”[61]

The next month, Rodger Gordon began appearing as one of the company’s three sales representatives at the bottom of its magazine advertisements.[62]

Optical Techniques Incorporated advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, February 1979
OTI’s advertisement in the February 1979 issue of Sky and Telescope featured an interview with Paul Shenkle, the company’s sales manager. Optical Techniques Incorporated

In another advertisement, OTI interviewed one of its own employees, Paul Shenkle, who had become its sales manager. Under the headline, “The 100 Series? Maximum Performance at the Lowest Possible Cost,” the advertisement promoted the Quantum 100 using a question-and-answer format. “Do you feel that people still care about quality?” Shenkle’s answer was clearly “yes.” One could hardly have failed to predict his answer to another question: “Do you feel that the Quantum 100 Series instruments will be as successful as the Quantum Four and Six have been?”[63]

Early Business Fortunes: From Early Hiccups to an Improved Outlook

In its first full advertisement in the September 1977 issue of Sky and Telescope, OTI announced that, until the end of 1977, both the Quantum Four and the Quantum Six were available at the introductory prices of $750 and $1250, respectively.[64] As Rodger Gordon later remembered in his 1983 essay “The O.T.I. Experience,” Schneck and Richardson hoped that news of a Questar-quality Maksutov telescope whose price was the same as a Schmidt-Cassegrain would trigger quick and widespread acceptance among amateur astronomers. When this happened, they would slowly raise the price and begin making a profit. OTI’s founders predicted that somewhere between 100 and 150 telescopes would sell at the lower introductory price within the remaining months of 1977.[65]

But their strategy backfired almost immediately. The company ended up receiving over 280 orders at that lower price. The effect of uncontrolled inflation on the cost of materials during the late 1970s further eroded their profit, and they lost money for every order they filled.[66]

To combat the effects of double-digit increases in inflation rates, OTI steadily raised the price of their four- and six-inch telescopes. After the company released the Quantum Four to market in September 1977 for $750, it raised that price to $895 in January 1978, $990 in October 1978, $1085 in September 1979, and $1395 in July 1980. And after the Quantum Six was initially priced at $1250, that amount rose to $1395 in January 1978, $1450 in February 1978, $1795 in October 1978, $1995 in September 1979, and $2595 in July 1980.[67]

In addition to its initial pricing mistakes, OTI’s production shop was ill-equipped to handle a large number of orders at the same time that it dealt with resolving the new telescope’s early flaws. Although the company initially expected shipments to begin in the middle of September 1977, delays pushed that date back to November. Persistent issues with production caused other delays that lasted four months to an entire year. As a result, the company developed a reputation for delivering a quality product several months late. Around 15% of orders were cancelled by customers because of the delay.[68]

Other problems emerged. At first, Schneck and Richardson estimated they would need $120,000 of capital as they started their business. They succeeded with getting three commitments of $40,000 each, but one backed out, leaving the company undercapitalized.[69] Other investors became uncomfortable upon seeing OTI’s pursuit of highly profitable industrial and government clients go nowhere. They ultimately pulled out, too, and the company’s cash flow troubles compounded even more. But with the crush of orders that OTI received from amateurs, the company’s founders developed a false sense of security, and they began to downplay the importance of cultivating potential industrial and government clients.[70]

By early 1979, the outlook for OTI began to improve. Although some of its first investors had pulled out, another group stepped in on the condition that the company reverse its anemic approach to industrial and government clients. OTI’s sales team began to deliver results, and some industrial clients started to give the company business. Unitron also entered into an agreement in which OTI was to produce Quantum telescopes that were to be sold under the Unitron brand name. To some employees like Rodger Gordon, the new company’s fortunes seemed to be turning around, and they decided to invest in the company themselves.[71]

Decline and Failure

The sunny prospects for OTI did not last long. By late 1979, things began to unravel for the company. In spite of limited success, its pursuit of government and industrial business never truly materialized. Although Contraves Goerz Corporation gave OTI a contract valued at $35,000 for ten special instruments, for instance, the Carter administration later slashed military spending, and Contraves Goerz cancelled all but one order. Unitron’s deal with OTI then fell through when it sold to another company and decided to focus instead on industrial microscopy. Meanwhile, amateurs cancelled orders almost as fast as others placed them. Whatever additional capital the company managed to raise went towards paying its mounting debt. Suppliers who had committed to doing business with OTI suddenly pulled out.[72]

Then things truly ran off the rails. After entangling themselves in questionable international schemes that promised high profits from rapidly rising oil and gold prices, OTI’s founders ultimately lost more money. With intensifying cash flow problems, the company began making promises to its customers it could not keep. Many who put money down on instruments or accessories never received them. Some lost thousands of dollars. Others simply stopped making installment payments on items that never arrived. At the same time, those remaining vendors who were still doing business with the company grew increasingly mistrustful and began demanding payment upon delivery for parts they sent to OTI. Desperate to stay afloat, Schneck and Richardson plowed most of their life savings into a company that, by early 1980, was clearly failing.[73] Their dream of running their own business and controlling their own destiny was slipping away.

OTI’s implosion continued through the following summer. The company’s last advertisement in Astronomy magazine appeared in June 1980,[74] and its final promotion in Sky and Telescope appeared four months later.[75] Meanwhile, the company’s staff members protested about what they saw happening, but Schneck and Richardson ignored their pleas. Witnessing the disaster unfolding around him, Rodger Gordon eventually realized that the situation was hopeless. He resigned in August 1980. Others like Paul Shenkle left the company, too.[76]

Optical Techniques Incorporated finally ceased operations in October 1981. Its founders, John Schneck and Robert Richardson, were financially wiped out. Others who had made an investment in the company lost all of their money. After the company failed to pay employee payroll tax withholdings for two years, the Internal Revenue Service took a close look and discovered that OTI had been keeping two sets of books, one showing a successful and profitable company and another revealing OTI’s actual debt load. In early 1982, the federal agency seized what little assets the company had left: a depleted checking account, a handful of designs and patents, and some office furniture.[77]

Coda

After OTI’s collapse, Robert Richardson wound up at an optical firm in Rochester, New York. He later moved to a company that did military contract work, but it failed a short time after its owner died.[78]

John Schneck and Paul Schenkle found a place at Davro Optical Systems, a provider for government and industrial clients that began doing business in 1981. An earlier version of the company had been founded by John Daveler as Davro Instrument Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial machinery, in 1966. Schneck, who eventually became a vice president at Davro, brought with him all of the design documents for the Quantum Four, Six, and Eight. But Davro never took up production of these instruments. Instead, the company only offered repair and maintenance services for existing Quantum telescopes.[79]

Paul Shenkle’s work at Davro included performing analyses for government-military contract work that the company won. He developed expertise with modulation transfer function (MTF) units and later performed design work for Davro. Upon his departure, the company never succeeded with finding a replacement for Shenkle.[80]

In 2018, Davro Optical Systems ceased doing business, and its assets were sold off at auction.[81]

After he left OTI, Rodger Gordon went back to his career in audio-visual sales in educational markets. In 1989, he took up work at Vernonscope. Between 1998 and 2005, he eased into retirement.[82]

Two decades after John Schneck and Robert Richardson left Questar, the memory of his erstwhile competitors still chafed Douglas Knight. In spite of them taking—or, from his perspective, stealing—Lawrence Braymer’s original design for a one-armed mount, Schneck and Richardson tried to outperform Questar at its own game. They ultimately failed. True, Knight admitted to journalist Barry Kawa, OTI “cut into Questar sales with its Quantum scopes, and [they] did sell a lot of telescopes.” Moreover, their product was less expensive than what Questar sold, yet it had just as much optical quality. But Schneck, who had experience as a tool and die maker and was head of production at Questar before he left the company, “thought he knew how to cut corners and make a cheap instrument.” After only a few years, OTI went under just like many other small businesses often do. “It was rather exciting for a few years,” Knight added. “Then, they failed at it, too.”[83]

Throughout the brief period when OTI challenged Questar, Marguerite Braymer and Douglas Knight held firmly onto their ideas for how they should do business. John Schneck and Robert Richardson had a different approach in mind. When they decided to start their own business, their own sense of entrepreneurialism and their willingness to take many of the same risks that Lawrence Braymer did three decades earlier trumped their loyalty to Questar. While they succeeded in taking some of Questar’s business at a time when other competitors like Celestron were doing the same, Marguerite Braymer and Knight had an enormous advantage in the form of a company that had already been well established a quarter-century earlier. In the end, Schneck and Richardson were ruined, and Questar continued along its way.

Small Catadioptric Imitators

The Quantum telescope was not the only imitator to appear on the market in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Other manufacturers attempted to produce and sell telescopes whose design and form mimicked the Questar telescope.

Criterion Tabletop Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes

Criterion advertisement, <em>Astronomy</em>, August 1981
The Criterion Dynamax 4 as it appeared in the August 1981 issue of Astronomy magazine. Criterion

Perhaps the most blatant Questar knockoff was the Criterion Dynamax 4. First appearing in the August 1981 issues of Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazines, the four-inch tabletop Schmidt-Cassegrain had a focal length of 1200mm and a focal ratio of f/11.8. It was available in three configurations: a telephoto lens for $249.95, a spotting scope for $299.95, and an astronomical version for $499.00.[84]

One could hardly miss the similarities between the Criterian Dynamax 4 and the Standard Questar. The newcomer mimicked the telescope produced in New Hope right down to the shape of its dual fork mount side arms, the location and color of its logo badge, the cylindrical mount base, and its tabletop tripod legs.

But perhaps true to the now ever-changing landscape of astronomical telescope manufacturing, the Dynamax 4 eventually appeared under a different brand name. In 1981, Criterion was sold to Bushnell Corporation, which itself had been sold to Bausch & Lomb and became one of its subsidiaries a decade earlier.[85]

In the January 1983 issues of both Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazine, Bausch & Lomb introduced the Criterion 4000. With its 1200mm focal length and its overall construction and appearance, this “new” telescope appeared simply to be a rebranding of the earlier Dynamax 4. It featured similar if not identical specifications as compared to the earlier model.[86]

Bausch & Lomb advertisement, <em>Astronomy</em>, April 1984
Advertisement for the Bausch & Lomb Criterion 4000, which appeared in the April 1984 issue of Astronomy magazine. Bausch & Lomb

Bausch & Lomb continued to market the Criterion 4000 for a while longer. In the April 1984 issue of Astronomy magazine, for instance, the company ran an advertisement featuring the telescope alongside an image of Isaac Asimov and a pithy but general quotation from his writing about astronomy.[87] The advertisement never made any indication that Asimov directly endorsed or even owned a Criterion 4000.

Years later, telescope reviewer Malcolm Bird reflected that the Criterion 4000 labored “under a cloud of poor optical performance.” Based on his example, its reputation was “fully justified.”[88]

The Criterion 4000 never managed to shake off its bad reputation. It quickly disappeared from the market, and it never represented a major threat to Questar.

Still, the company in New Hope saw the need to remind potential buyers about the genuine article. In 1981, it added a small “®” symbol to the lower right-hand side of the side arm logo badges that appeared on its fully-mounted telescopes.[89] Underscoring the change, the company asserted in October 1983 that “‘Questar’ is the registered trademark of the Questar telescope, manufactured only by Questar Corporation. There is none other, whether or not it superficially resembles our instrument, or whether it claims the same quality at half the price. No other telescope is of comparable quality.”[90]

Celestron C90 Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

Not long after John Schneck and Robert Richardson formed Optical Techniques Incorporated and began offering the Quantum telescope, a more formidable competitor made its own entry into the Maksutov-Cassegrain market.

Celestron advertisement, <em>Sky and Telescope</em>, October 1977
Celestron’s introduction of the C90 in the October 1977 issue of Sky and Telescope. Celestron

In the October 1977 issue of Sky and Telescope, Celestron introduced the C90. Similar to the way that Criterion marketed its Dynamax 4, the company offered the 3.5-inch C90 in three configurations: one mounted for astronomical use for $495, another as a spotting scope for $295, and a third as a telephoto lens for $245.[91] Meanwhile, a fully mounted Standard Questar with Pyrex mirror and standard magnesium fluoride coatings ran $1415.[92]

Each version of the C90 was figured as an instrument with a focal length and ratio of 1000mm at f/11. Celestron claimed its optics were “permanently collimated and fully baffled.” The introductory advertisement praised the C90’s versatility and its ease of use as a tabletop instrument.[93]

In ways that were similar to Questar’s marketing, Celestron highlighted the photographic applications of the C90. In its advertisement appearing in the October 1981 issue of Astronomy magazine, for instance, Celestron featured a sampling of photographs of various terrestrial and astronomical objects that were taken with the C90.[94]

Celestron advertisement, <em>Astronomy</em>, December 1982
Celestron C90 advertisement in the December 1982 issue of Astronomy magazine. Celestron

But Celestron differentiated itself from Questar’s advertising style by continuing its use of attractive models to draw one’s eye. In its December 1982 advertisement in Astronomy magazine, the company used small typeface to make its case in favor of its 3.5-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain as both a visual telescope or a photographic telephoto lens. Above Celestron’s marketing pitch was a far more eye-catching image of a woman with flowing hair enjoying her experience at the eyepiece of a C90.[95]

It was probably no accident that Celestron chose an aperture that was nearly identical to that of the 3.5-inch Questar telescope. Moreover, the argument the company in New Hope had been making for years rested on all the ways its unique product had certain advantages over the shortcomings of the Schmidt-Cassegrain design. With the appearance of the C90, however, that argument lost some of its force.

But Celestron’s 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain was not without its problems. In addition to optics that were mediocre if not downright poor, its focuser was a weak point. Like a telephoto lens, the entire forward section of the C90’s tube rotated forward and back. When used on a typical photographic tripod this led to vibrations which made achieving focus at high-magnification difficult.[96]

Celestron advertisement, <em>Natural History</em>, November 1988
Advertisement for the Celestron C90 in the November 1988 issue of Natural History magazine. Celestron

After the original orange-tube C90 faded away in the 1980s, another similar model emerged. But that, too, disappeared before long.[97]

The C90 made its comeback as an unmounted telescope that was produced in China by Synta and that some retailers offered at a comparatively rock-bottom price below $200.[98] Other variants included the Celestron NexStar 4SE, which featured a back port and internal flip-up/flip-down diagonal mirror that mimicked the Questar’s rear axial port and internal star diagonal. Included with a computerized mount, it retailed for $499. Occasional sales promotions sometimes dropped that price down to $399.[99]

Celestron advertisement, <em>Astronomy</em>, July 1981
Celestron’s advertisement in the July 1981 issue of Astronomy magazine. Celestron

By the early 1980s, Celestron’s offerings had grown to encompass a wide variety of products including Schmidt- and Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes and an entire constellation of accessories. To any observer, one thing was certain: this company was not about to disappear anytime soon. After Tom Johnson developed Celestron as a business in the late 1960s and introduced the groundbreaking C8 SCT in 1970, his company continued to play an outsized role in amateur astronomy. It became one of the most recognized brand names in the hobby.

Celestron’s success represented more of an exception than a rule. After other competitors attempted to cut into Questar’s business, they often fell by the wayside and were largely forgotten.

Questar continued to sell a telescope whose design process began in the late 1940s and whose form had not changed much since its introduction to the market in 1954. But the company did not rely entirely on its existing line of instruments. Like its competitors, the company explored ways to diversify its product offerings.

Next: § 5.3. More Variations on a Theme

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Notes

1 “Tom Johnson (astronomer),” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Johnson_(astronomer), accessed February 22, 2021; Dennis di Cicco, “Tom Johnson, 1923-2012,” Sky and Telescope, March 13, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/tom-johnson-19232012/, accessed August 14, 2020.

2 Dennis di Cicco, “Tom Johnson, 1923-2012,” Sky and Telescope, March 13, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/tom-johnson-19232012/, accessed August 14, 2020.

3 Karri Ferron, “Celestron founder dies at age 89,” Astronomy, March 13, 2012, https://astronomy.com/~/link.aspx?_id=9a67e349-362b-4bce-abfd-22cc532409b8, accessed February 22, 2021.

4 Dennis di Cicco, “Tom Johnson, 1923-2012,” Sky and Telescope, March 13, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/tom-johnson-19232012/, accessed August 14, 2020.

5 Donald Willey, “Cassegrain-Type Telescopes,” Sky and Telescope, April 1962, 191-193; Dennis di Cicco, “Tom Johnson, 1923-2012,” Sky and Telescope, March 13, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/tom-johnson-19232012/, accessed August 14, 2020.

6 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, January 1964, 61; Dennis di Cicco, “Tom Johnson, 1923-2012,” Sky and Telescope, March 13, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/tom-johnson-19232012/, accessed August 14, 2020.

7 Dennis di Cicco, “Tom Johnson, 1923-2012,” Sky and Telescope, March 13, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/tom-johnson-19232012/, accessed August 14, 2020.

8 “Schmidt corrector plate,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schmidt_corrector_plate, accessed February 22, 2021.

9 Dennis di Cicco, “Tom Johnson, 1923-2012,” Sky and Telescope, March 13, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/tom-johnson-19232012/, accessed August 14, 2020.

10 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, December 1964, 373.

11 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, July 1968, 44.

12 Rodger Gordon in discussion with the author, October 6, 2020.

13 Dennis di Cicco, “Tom Johnson, 1923-2012,” Sky and Telescope, March 13, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/tom-johnson-19232012/, accessed August 14, 2020.

14 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, June 1970, 385.

15 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, May 1970, 317.

16 Dennis di Cicco, “Tom Johnson, 1923-2012,” Sky and Telescope, March 13, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/tom-johnson-19232012/, accessed August 14, 2020.

17 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, January 1972, outside back cover.

18 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, June 1973, 388.

19 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, June 1973, outside back cover.

20Astronomy (magazine),” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomy_(magazine), accessed February 22, 2021.

21 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, October 1982, outside back cover; Celestron, advertisement, Astronomy, October 1982, outside back cover.

22 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, October 1982, inside front cover.

23 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Astronomy, October 1982, 29.

24 Celestron, advertisement, Astronomy, December 1982, outside back cover.

25 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, August 1965, inside front cover.

26 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, August 1973, inside front cover.

27 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, August 1957, 486.

28 Questar Corporation, “On the Problem of Choosing a Telescope,” 1973.

29 Questar Corporation, “On the Problem of Choosing a Telescope,” 1973.

30 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, July 1976, inside front cover.

31 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, December 1976, inside front cover.

32 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, August 1988, inside front cover.

33 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, June 1991, inside front cover.

34 Questar Corporation, “Choosing a Telescope,” 1992.

35 Questar Corporation, “Choosing a Telescope,” 1992.

36 Questar Corporation, “Choosing a Telescope,” 1992.

37 Questar Corporation, “Choosing a Telescope,” 1992.

38 Questar Corporation, “Choosing a Telescope,” 1992.

39 “Optical Techniques, Inc.: A Brief History of A Brief Company,” Company Seven, n.d., http://www.company7.com/library/quant6.html, accessed August 14, 2020; “Questar Products Index & Overview Page,” Company Seven, n.d., http://www.company7.com/questar/index.html, accessed July 3, 2019.

40 Charles Shaw, “Larry Braymer: ‘In Quest of the Stars,’” New Hope Gazette, March 14, 1985, 32, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019.

41 Charles Shaw, “Larry Braymer: ‘In Quest of the Stars,’” New Hope Gazette, March 14, 1985, 3, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019; Ralph Foss, “Lawrence E Braymer” (unpublished manuscript, June 11, 2006, revised June 26, 2006), typescript, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019; Herb Drill, “Marguerite Braymer, 85, Questar Corp. co-founder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 1, 1996, R4, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/21814542/the_philadelphia_inquirer/, accessed October 8, 2019; “Marguerite Annetta Braymer,” Prabook, n.d., https://prabook.com/web/marguerite_annetta.braymer/491976, accessed November 2, 2020.

42 Marguerite Dodd, America’s Homemaking Book (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1957), https://archive.org/details/americashomemaki00dodd/, accessed November 17, 2020; Marguerite Dodd, America’s Cook Book (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1963).

43 Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

44 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, September 1977, 197.

45 Barry Kawa, unpublished essay on Douglas Knight and Maurice Sweiss (unpublished manuscript, n.d.), typescript, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/Questar%20Manuals/, accessed October 14, 2019; “Optical Techniques, Inc.: A Brief History of A Brief Company,” Company Seven, n.d., http://www.company7.com/library/quant6.html, accessed August 14, 2020; Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 1, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020.

46 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 1, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020.

47 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 1, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020.

48 “Optical Techniques, Inc.: A Brief History of A Brief Company,” Company Seven, n.d., http://www.company7.com/library/quant6.html, accessed August 14, 2020.

49 Optical Techniques Incorporated, “The Quantum Series of Maksutov Cassegrain Telescopes,” August 1977, http://www.astrophil.com/astrophotos/Q6_Info_files/Quantum%20Series.pdf, accessed August 14, 2020.

50 Rodger Gordon in discussion with the author, August 15, 2020.

51 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, August 1977, 144.

52 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, September 1977, 197.

53 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, September 1977, 197.

54 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, November 1978, 478.

55 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, November 1979, 485.

56 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, January 1980, 33.

57 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, March 1980, 231.

58 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, May 1980, 391.

59 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, May 1980, 428.

60 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, October 1979, 339; Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Astronomy, October 1979, 46.

61 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, October 1977, 332.

62 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, November 1977, 392.

63 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, February 1979, 195.

64 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, September 1977, 197.

65 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 1, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020.

66 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 1, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020.

67 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, September 1977, 197; Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, December 1977, 488; Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, February 1978, 172; Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, September 1978, 256; Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, July 1979, 38; Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, July 1980, 58.

68 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, September 1977, 197; Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 1, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020.

69 Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

70 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 1, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020.

71 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 1-2, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020; Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

72 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 2, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020; Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

73 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 2, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020.

74 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Astronomy, June 1980, 27.

75 Optical Techniques Incorporated, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, October 1980, 304.

76 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 2, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020; Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

77 Rodger Gordon, “The O.T.I. Experience,” Gemini: A Publication of the Minnesota Astronomical Society, December 1983, 2, http://forums.mnastro.org/gemini/files/gemini_198312.pdf, accessed August 3, 2020; Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

78 Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

79 Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020; “Davro Instrument Corp,” Bloomberg, n.d., https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/company/0066652D:US, accessed February 21, 2021; “Davro Optical Systems Inc,” bizstanding.com, n.d., https://bizstanding.com/directory/PA/DA/1283/, accessed February 21, 2021; “Company History,” Davro Optical Systems, n.d., http://www.davrooptical.com/#HISTORY, accessed August 14, 2020; “Quantum Telescope Repair and Restoration,” Davro Optical Systems, n.d., http://www.davrooptical.com/htm.docs/quantum_tele_repair_.htm, accessed August 14, 2020.

80 Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

81 Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

82 Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

83 Barry Kawa, unpublished essay on Douglas Knight and Maurice Sweiss (unpublished manuscript, n.d.), typescript, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/Questar%20Manuals/, accessed October 14, 2019.

84 Criterion, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, August 1981, 183; Criterion, advertisement, Astronomy, August 1981, inside back cover.

85 “Criterion RV-6 Dynascope,” Company Seven, n.d., http://www.company7.com/library/criterion_rv6.html, accessed August 24, 2020; “Bushnell Corporation,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushnell_Corporation, accessed February 20, 2021.

86 Bausch & Lomb, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, January 1983, 103; Bausch & Lomb, advertisement, Astronomy, January 1983, 29.

87 Bausch & Lomb, advertisement, Astronomy, April 1984, inside back cover.

88 Malcolm Bird, “B&L Criterion 4000 - a scope with Junk Bond Status,” Astromart, January 15, 2012, https://astromart.com/reviews/telescopes/cats/show/bl-criterion-4000-a-scope-with-junk-bond-status, accessed August 24, 2020.

89 Ben Langlotz, online forum posting, Cloudy Nights, June 12, 2017, https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/580599-questar-design-change-history/?p=7935420, accessed February 16, 2021. As of February 16, 2021, the last Questar known to the author to have a side arm logo badge without an “” symbol is #1-Z-8370-BB, built in 1981 (“Questar 3.5 Zerodor with Broad Band coatings,” Astromart, March 31, 2016, https://astromart.com/classifieds/astromart-classifieds/telescope-catadioptric/show/questar-35-zerodor-with-broad-band-coatings, accessed February 16, 2021).

90 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, October 1983, inside front cover.

91 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, October 1977, outside back cover.

92 Questar Corporation, Instruments and Accessories catalog, 1976.

93 Celestron, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, October 1977, outside back cover.

94 Celestron, advertisement, Astronomy, October 1981, outside back cover.

95 Celestron, advertisement, Astronomy, December 1982, inside back cover.

96 “Celestron C90 Mak Review,” Telescopic Watch, n.d., https://telescopicwatch.com/celestron-c90-mak-review/, accessed August 24, 2020.

97 “Celestron C90 Mak Review,” Telescopic Watch, n.d., https://telescopicwatch.com/celestron-c90-mak-review/, accessed August 24, 2020; Rod Mollise, “The Mighty C90,” Uncle Rod’s Astro Blog, March 28, 2010, http://uncle-rods.blogspot.com/2010/03/mighty-c90.html, accessed August 24, 2020.

98 B & H Foto & Electronics Corporation, “Celestron C90 Mak Spotting Scope,” n.d., https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/677179-REG/Celestron_52268_C90_MAK_Spotting_Scope.html, accessed June 17, 2020.

99 B & H Foto & Electronics Corporation, “Celestron NexStar 4SE 102mm f/13 Maksutov-Cassegrain GoTo Telescope,” n.d., https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/440804-REG/Celestron_11049_NexStar_4_SE_4_0_102mm.html, accessed June 17, 2020.