Taiwan also has a Bill Gates! Located in Baoshan Township in Hsinchu County, the Bill Gates Museum was founded by Wen Chao-long, a repairer and collector of audio equipment. Establishing the museum has fulfilled Wen’s 40-year dream of opening a museum of audio equipment from around the world.
Wen decided to name his museum after Bill Gates because it is near Hsinchu Scientific Park, and he hopes to attract visitors from the high-tech industry, and share his collection with them.
Besides 100 antique gramophones and radios, the museum also houses over 30 amplifiers, more than 100 speaker units, and amost 30 record players. On top of that, there are also more than 30,000 records and over 500 musical instruments provided by his friend Wei Jin-yuan. When visiting the museum, audiophiles and music students can’t help being amazed.
As soon as the 58-year-old Wen hears about a rare record or a special piece of equipment he will jump on a flight to Europe, America, China or Southeast Asia to do an exchange or buy a new item for his collection. He says that the gramophone is a wonderful invention because it produces a beautiful sound without an external power supply.
In 2004, Wen and his wife bought the building that later became the museum, an old 400-ping two-story redbrick house. Wen is also an enthusiastic promoter of activities related to music, art and culture.
The most precious item in the museum is an Edison gramophone made 105 years ago. Manufactured in 1905, it is extremely rare but still functions properly. Chang Chun-yen, ex-president of National Chiao Tung University, used to be very fond of this machine and wanted to have it, but Wen wouldn’t let it go to anyone at any price.
Wen says vacuum tube-based amplifiers from different countries produce different sounds, with some suited to the human voice, and others suited to musical instruments. Handmade, custom-designed equipment has surpassed mass-produced equipment as the product of choice for connoisseurs because it produces clearer sounds and is made of better quality material.
When showing an RCA amplifier made in the US in 1935, Wen excitedly says that the machine produces a lovely sound and is beautifully designed. He’s also very proud of a jukebox used in casinos and pubs in the 1950s. A large speaker for outdoor movie theaters is also among his favorites.
One of the museum’s biggest instruments is a sousaphone. US composer John Philip Sousa modified this powerful instrument from a tuba in 1899, to be used by marching bands. A Victorian-style organ made in the US in 1935, of the kind often used in churches in the west, is also on the list of the museum’s most cherished items.
(LIBERTYTIMES, TRANSLATED BY TAIJING WU)