Charlie Butten, Founding Father of Intercoms, to be Inducted into SCN Hall of Fame

ALAMEDA, USA – JANUARY 3, 2023 – Clear-Com® is proud to announce that Charlie Butten, inventor of the distributed amplifier intercom and one of the company founders, will be inducted into the Systems Contractor News (SCN) Hall of Fame this month. To this day, Charlie continues to actively contribute to the company’s engineering efforts, with a special focus on analog audio circuit design.

Originally from the East Coast, Charlie made his way to San Francisco in the 1960s and teamed up with Bob Cohen to create an intercom system for crew communication in live productions. What started as a project with a frying pan in a bathroom sink eventually became the first distributed amplifier analog beltpack system, and by 1968, Charlie and Bob had established the Clear-Com business in San Francisco. The original RS-100 was used by such groups as Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead as part of their touring systems, and that exposure led to later versions being adopted by many production crews in various music venues all over the world. 

A 1971 feature in Rolling Stone magazine highlighted Charlie’s impact on the rock music industry, and their invention earned both Charlie and Bob Cohen a Technology and Engineering Emmy® Award for The Belt Pack: Distributed Amplifier Systems in Live Production by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) in 2010. 

“Back in the mid-60s, when I came up with a simple solution to a simple problem, I did not think of it as a big deal,” Charlie says. “This recognition is certainly a nice honor!”

“We’re immensely proud to see Charlie honored for his contributions,” said Bob Boster, President of Clear-Com. “He is the whole reason Clear-Com is the company it is today, and through subsequent evolution of his innovations, his ideas have impacted millions of audience members worldwide, not only in live performance settings, but also in broadcast, sports, and other domains.”

Charlie lives in the Bay Area, where he continues to work full-time for Clear-Com, as well as its parent company HME.  His ongoing contributions impact a variety of products and inspire the company’s development teams, touching generations of engineers and others in product development. 

About Clear-Com®

Clear-Com, an HME company, has been a trusted global provider of professional real-time communications solutions and services since 1968. We innovate market-proven technologies that link people together through wired and wireless systems.

Clear-Com was first to market portable wired intercom systems for live performances. Since then, our history of technological advancements and innovations has delivered significant improvements to the way people collaborate in professional settings where real-time communication matters. For the markets we serve — broadcast, live performance, live events, sports, military, aerospace and government — our communication products have consistently met the demands for high quality audio, reliability, scalability and low latency, while addressing communication requirements of varying size and complexity. Our reputation in the industry is not only based on our product achievements, but also on our consistent level of customer engagement and dedication to delivering the right solutions for specialized applications, with the expertise to make it work. Across different markets around the globe, Clear-Com’s innovations and solutions have received numerous awards and recognitions for ingenuity and impact on customers.

For more information, please visit www.clearcom.com

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