It all started when...
A few years ago I came across a kitset from a local electronics supplier for a valve based headphone amplifier based on the Raytheon 6418. I'd never built anything with valves in it before, so being intrigued I ordered a kit. At the time I had some cheap, low quality headphones through which I enjoyed my music. But the difference the valve based kitset made to the sound quality was like the difference between night and day. I demo'd to a few friends and they all wanted one. This valve amp was just too good to keep to myself, and being someone who likes a challenge I decided to build more.
The glass tube valves used in our products were made by Raytheon in 1982 and were used in the guidance system of the Patriot and Tomahawk missles. Since they are not solid state (transistors) they are immune to EMP, or atomic blasts. The valves were built to Military Specifications and packaged in boxes of 200. Although old, our stock of valves have never been used. The boxes they are packed in have labels which read 'Defence Dept' and 'Date Pkd : 1982'.
There is a very limited supply of these high quality military specification valves world-wide and once they are are used they will be gone for good. As our business is based around these valves we decided to buy a large qualnity and have them shipped from the USA to our office in New Zealand. We now have around 75 thousand valves- enough to make at least 37,000 amplifiers.