Founded in 1972 and public since 1997, Meade is a world leader in the design and manufacture of telescopes and accessories for amateur astronomers. The Company's innovative and technologically advanced products are recognized to be among the best in the world.
A History of Meade - The First Thirty Years
Founded in the most modest of circumstances, Meade Instruments began business in 1972 on initial capital of $2500 as a mail-order supplier of small refracting telescopes. Starting, quite literally, on the kitchen table of a single-room apartment and operating from a post office box, the one-person business grew slowly: sales that first year were just under $8000, all of which came from a 2" by 4" ad in Sky & Telescope magazine, then the only wide-circulation U.S. publication directed at the amateur astronomer. The fledgling company quickly found that there was an increasing demand for quality telescope accessories, a demand that was going largely unmet. In 1973 Meade added lines of Orthoscopic and Kellner eyepieces, followed rapidly by a group of precision rack and pinion focusers, viewfinders, filters, camera adapters, and other accessories. That year also saw Meade as charter advertisers in the new magazine Astronomy. Amateur astronomers purchasing Meade accessories found that each had custom touches not generally available on competing models - the focusers, for example, had spring-loaded gearboxes that permitted smoother action throughout the entire travel distance, the viewfinders included eyepieces with wider fields than had been commonly available.
By 1977 Meade Instruments offered a broad range of telescope accessories and parts for the serious amateur, a range of accessoires and parts that in fact permitted the company to bring out its first in-house manufactured telescopes, Meade Models 628 amd 826 6" and 8"; reflecting telescopes. With Meade reflectors American amateur astronomers found that they had, really for the first time, a telescope manufacturer that provided a quality product at a reasonable price, that continually updated its products technically, and, above all, one that stood firmly behind every sale.
Meade 6" and 8" reflecting telescopes were an instant success - so much so that in early 1978 the company was faced with a 6-month backlog, despite the fact that Meade had promised "6-to-8 week delivery". Every customer was written a personal letter explaining the backlog situation and was offered a full and immediate refund if the additional waiting time was not acceptable. Few accepted the offer. As it turned out, by working overtime shifts and adding additional personnel, we were able to ship all of the back-ordered telescopes within about three months instead of the projected six.
Word began to spread among amateurs that Meade Instruments is a company that can be trusted, one that does and means what it says. These values, now so often abused, are still very much at work in the Meade Instruments on the present day.
In 1978 Meade Instruments took on its most formidable challenge to that date: the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope market. Development of the original Meade 2080 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain required three years and all of the financial and engineering resources that the company had at its disposal, notwithstanding the significant growth that the company had experienced in the late 70's. But Meade was determined to develop the state of the art Schmidt-Cassegrain design, a design that Meade strongly felt had overpowering advantages for the serious amateur, but one that was not being technically well-advanced due to an absence of competition.
With the announcement, in September, 1980, of the Model 2080, Meade Instruments began to grow rapidly. Each year thereafter saw new and exciting telescope models and accessories, as Meade led the way in telescope technology for the serious amateur. By 1986 Meade Instruments was generally acknowledged as the largest, and certainly the leading, manufacturer of serous telescopes in the world. By 1995 in virtually every county in the world where serious telescopes are sold, more Meade telescopes were sold than all competing telescope models combined.
So why has Meade Instruments been successful - why has the company grown during these past 30 years, when other telescope and accessory companies, dozens - perhaps more than one hundred of them, have come and gone? The answers are as fundamental and as clear today as they were on that kitchen table thirty years ago:
Product Quality and Value: The bedrock of any successful manufacturing company is the quality and value that its products represent. Does each product perform well-within its advertised specifications? Does each product offer good and fair value for the customer's money? If the product is made by Meade Instruments, we know that the answers are yes in both cases. We look at our products, study them, use them every day, and we regularly compare them directly with competing products, to confirm to ourselves that no company anywhere is offering the customer a better product or a better value.
Customer Service: Meade goes the second mile with their customers to reach an amicable conclusion to any question or problem - and we have found likewise that the overwhelming majority of customers also want to be reasonable with us. We offer an excellent product warranty, a warranty that gives Meade customers strong formal protection of their investment in any of Meade's products. But when a customer calls with a complaint - whether or not their Meade product is still under warranty - we ask ourselves a simple question: What is the fair thing to do? If the product has not been abused or mishandled, we routinely repair or replace a defective component, beyond stated warranty terms, if we feel that the problem should not reasonably have occurred. The Meade Customer Service staff's sole mission is to keep Meade customers satisfied with the product they have purchased - and with the company they have purchased it from.
Continual Innovation: The list of Meade firsts is the most impressive in the industry: the first 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain to include a worm-gear drive (1980); the first commercial Schmidt-Cassegrains to include integrated electronic drive systems (Meade LX3's, 1984); the first permanently-programmed periodic error correction software (Meade Smart Drive, 1990); the first apochromatic refractors with automatic slewing and GO TO capability (1992); the first fully computerized observatory-class Schmidt-Cassegrain (Meade 16" LX200, 1994) - the first intermediate-level telescopes with automatic slewing and GO TO capability (Meade Digital Electronic Series, 1999) - the first ultra-high transmission coatings for commercial catadioptric telescopes (Meade UHTC group, 2002) - and with dozens of innovations in between. Meade engineers are constantly seeking ways to make our products even better, to reduce manufacturing costs, and to design new and exciting products. To the often-asked question, "Are you working on anything new?" the answer is always, and not facetiously, yes.
Meade Common Stock is traded on the NASDAQ National Market, the result of an initial public stock offering in April, 1997. The principal members of the Meade management team - including the Chairman/Founder, President, and Senior Vice-President of Sales - have been with the company an average of 23 years; they have grown with the company and seen it develop. These Meade managers are also among the company's largest shareholders. Your interests are their interests; your Meade telescope is their Meade telescope.