Beolink - Part 1

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Beolink® stems from the fact that since 1985, Bang & Olufsen products have, almost entirely, been able to be controlled by way of remote control.

The idea started in the mid-1970s with Beosystem 6000 - one of the most advanced hi-fi systems ever manufactured. The hi-fi could be controlled by ultrasonic beams - allowing the user to operate the major functions by the touch of a button on a paperback book-sized 'Commander'. The culmination of the development of the range of Commanders came in 1985 when David Lewis designed a Beolink® terminal whereby a user, without using visual prompts, could control picture, sound and light sources by applying a slight pressure of the thumb. Incredibly, it could be used around the house, from room to room!

So, the idea behind Beolink® is really quite simple. It's all about getting the best out of the Bang & Olufsen products you already own and moving the experience rather than the equipment. You can play the same music throughout the house, increase or decrease the volume, change tracks, switch over to the radio or another music source or watch your favourite television programme wherever you have an extra television or a pair of loudspeakers. Beolink® can even be used to control the lights in your home. Beolink® is controlled either by touch or by the current Beo4 remote control.

So what is Beolink®?

Beolink® is a language. One that allows you to get the most out of your entertainment sources, your time, and most importantly, your pleasure. In its abstract form, the language is about a simple form of operation that most of Bang & Olufsen's products share. In its physical form Beolink® is a range of products that you decide to connect together - and live with. Beolink® is a Bang & Olufsen expression that covers:

the ability to create and operate audio-video systems.

the ability to distribute sound and picture from a Bang & Olufsen main room system to other rooms in the home, and to operate the main room system from the rooms connected by means of Beolink®.

Beolink® is not a product - it is a number of features that are the result of the intelligent interaction between products: a synergy effect.

How the idea started: Beolink® Audio product history

The idea stemmed as far back as 1974 when Beomaster 6000, as part of Beosystem 6000 was introduced. This was followed two years later by the highly successful Beomaster 1900 and closely followed the year after when its remote-controlled brother made its début on the hi-fi arena: Beomaster 2400. Both of these units had a sensi-touch display which meant that you just touched the 'buttons' with a finger (or by using the ultrasonic remote control commander in the case of Beomaster 2400) to choose your source or to alter the listening level. The idea of electronic sensi-touch controls did away with old-fashioned buttons and other mechanical ways of controlling your equipment and paved the way for the first true 'Datalink' product: Beogram 4004.

This record-player was the first of its kind in that it linked directly to a suitable Beomaster to start and stop play and to carry out other functions which otherwise had been controlled by a user effecting a control on the record deck itself. The idea was quite simple - a separate data channel was built into the DIN lead which connected the receiver to the record deck. In this way, digital information could be transferred between both units so that each could 'talk to each other' and literally tell each other what the other component was doing! Beogram 4004 went a stage further in that control could be made to the deck and receiver via its own one-way ultrasonic remote control.

In 1979 Beocenter 7000 was introduced, later upgraded to the Beocenter 7700 in 1982. The Center included drivers for the very first Bang & Olufsen link system - MCL82. This was an audio-only Beolink® system using the newly-developed MCL system. Four years later came Beosystem 5500 (developed from the two-way Beosystem 5000) which was the very first range of products to feature the current Beo4 codes, operated via the Beolink 1000 remote control. This same year MCL2 was introduced using the same 8mm passive cable but could incorporate video signals as well.

How the idea started: Beolink® Video product history

On the video side of things, Beolink® stemmed initially from the introduction of Beovision 4402 in 1977 which was Bang & Olufsen's first remote-controlled TV set using an ultrasonic remote control commander. Three years later the Beovision 8800-family of TV sets was introduced using Bang & Olufsen's Video Terminal - the oft-named 'Mars bar' remote control commander which was able to control via now-familiar infra-red signals, the various functions of suitable televisions.

Up till that time only mono sources could be played back via Bang & Olufsen TV sets and video recorders. The UK in the early 1980s had been toying with the idea of transmitting stereo signals to the nation's TV sets but NICAM was not accepted until a few years' later. However, Beovision 8902 was the company's first stereo set the be introduced which could be 'back-fitted' with the NICAM module to enable receiving of digital stereo broadcasts. Germany paved the way for NICAM broadcasts who 'got there' before the UK!

In 1986 Beovision L2802 was introduced which could control a video recorder via the TV's SCART lead. The signals were intercepted via the TV set's 'eye' and them transferred to the VCR through the SCART lead in order to control, video functions. This was achieved through pin 8 of the SCART lead (the status pin) and which generated a 12v electrical signal.

That same year full integration was achieved between a TV set and a suitable hi-fi system via a 7-pin auxiliary lead.

Simplicity itself!

Beolink® may be obtained in different ways, depending upon the products that are used: basically either the Audio Aux Link/Master Control Link (MCL) system or the current Master Link system. The latter is the most recent system with the long-term objective being that it will eventually replace the former system.

Beolink® is as simple as 1 + 1 = 3. The idea behind Beolink® is a simple one - connect your products and extend the experience. Have your audio and video sources available all around the house, on any scale you wish. Add loudspeakers and TVs as you wish and when you wish. Technically Beolink® is intelligent software on the inside of most recent B&O products - just add a length of cable to join them together!

Created: 11th February 2007
Modified: 3rd April 2007

Author Notes:

Pictured is the BeoSystem 6000 from 1974.

My BeoWorld



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