All about Alpha Control !!
Who runs Alpha Control?
My name is Jeff Story. I am 42 years old and when I'm not involved with Lost In Space, I'm an educator with the New York City Public School System. Ever since 1965, I was hooked on this show in every conceivable way. Back in Elementary School, I'd sketch pictures from Lost In Space, not even imagining that I'd be able to build a real Jupiter 2 spacecraft. Little did I realize back then in the 1960's and 70's that In 1991 these daydreams would become a reality. I guess hard work, determination and a little bit of luck can go a long way. I'll even ask my students, "ever hear of the tv show Lost In Space?", they'll answer, "sure, on cable"...then the following day I'll bring in my pictures and they all can't believe that their teacher owns this stuff.
Just how was all of this stuff gotten?
In early 1991 I was sitting in my den watching television when a promo for Quantum Leap was shown on NBC. This promo was for that night's episode titled "Future Boy". In this brief promo, Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) was in a 1950's space uniform in a spaceship playing a 1950's space hero. In the background my eye caught something that I thought was long gone, namely a Lost In Space flight console. Well, immediately I grabbed a videotape and just had to tape that episode. When that episode began I watched carefully and then I knew......Yes...this was a console from Lost in Space. I knew that after Lost In Space was canceled many of the props were used in such series as Planet of the Apes, Hogan's Heroes, Canon as well as many others, but that had been in the early and mid 1970's so you can imagine my shock when in 1991 this shows up.
Well, that was all I had to see and I knew I had to do something about it. The next day, after coming home from school, my mission began!!! The first thing I did was to call Universal, the studio where Quantum Leap was filmed. After leaving numerous messages on various voicemail systems I had a feeling I wasn't going to get any calls and I was so right. My next step was to call various prop houses in SouthernCalifornia, well after 20 to 30 calls and people ranging from cordial to downright nasty, I finally met a gentleman who said, "hmmmm, that sounds familiar, I might know who has them, can you send me a picture?" Well, cutting out a picture from Paul Monroe's great book on Lost In Space, I immediately sent this out. Within a week, I received a letter saying "yes, we know where these are.....they're at" (sorry, can't reveal the prop house)
I then called up this prop house and my journey had reached a conclusion.....sitting here were tons and tons of props from Lost In Space, the flight consoles, the radar screens, tons of smaller rack mounted display panels, etc. My first question to this great guy who would patiently answer all my questions was what kind of bulbs were used and how they blinked on and off ? I was told that GE47's (A type of minature bayonet lightbulb)were used and that the blinking effect was caused by a clock timer with various contacts on it each controlling 40 or 50 bulbs. This makes a click clack sound, but on the show, the clock timers were kept off stage in wooden boxes(with a wiriring harness connecting them to the consoles on the sound stage)as not to interfere with the filming. I kept asking question after question as this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. Finally, I asked, are they for sale? At this point, the answer was No but in the summer of 1991, one of the flight consoles was lent to me. It was fed-exed over night and arrived in a big wooden crate. The unit itself is in a steel housing and weighs in at over 60 pounds. Some two hundred GE47's make up each unit as well as a myriad of internal wiriring. I held onto this unit for about a week or so when at that point, it was time to return it.
Flight console origins
Some interesting information on these flight consoles. In the early days of the space program, they were used by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. These units were called the Electodata 220c and were manufactured by Electodata Corporation (Later called Burroughs Corpration) in Pasadena in 1954. When they were retired from active service in 1960 or so, Twentieth Century Fox bought them all up as well as tons and tons of other surplus antiquated computer equipment which would later grace the sound stage of the Lost In Space as well as other Fox productions. Fox got rid of it's "Fixtures" department in 1980 and a major prop house in Southern California bought it. The freezing tubes even survived into the mid 1980's but now reside somwhere in a Los Angeles landfill.
The Jupiter 2 cockpit is rebuilt
In 1992, my dream began to be realized. This prop house decided that they would sell the Lost in Space Props. In fact, I have become close friends with one of the owners. As I began receiving the flight consoles, radar screens, etc....it became apparent that the skills of a master crafstman would be in order to assist in the restoration of the cockpit. In 1994, the gentleman who sold them to me flew out to New York, spent a week here and worked out a miracle. Everything soon began to take form and substance and one really began to believe that they were on the Fox soundstage back in 1968. Drawing some 30 amps of power, this colossal but most delicate of instruments stands 8 feet high, 15 feet across and some 7 feet deep. One piece of equipment came from an entirely different source, the center radar screen (added at the start of season two) was sold to me by Peter Greenwood who had found it withering away at some obscure California locality. When it was recived, all the knobs, lights, switches and even the bulbs were clearly ORIGINAL.
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