Special Exhibit:

Pullen PCS

(Click on any of the images on this page to see a larger version)

This first production PCS wasn’t just signed by Jerry Pullen – he designed it. Here is the Sept 66 FM product review calling Jerry Pullen the “father of Proportional Control Systems” and indicating he also designed the Kraft proportional system.

Actually he didn’t “also” design the Kraft proportional, the PCS proportional was the Kraft proportional, only with different colors and lettering and, most importantly, a different price. PCS’s revolutionary low price of $299.95 shook the RC world to its foundations and led to the demise of several competing manufacturers.

Kraft organized PCS as a separate line or division and paid Jerry Pullen and Cliff Weirick to head it up. For almost two years PCS was held out as a separate manufacturer. We believe this was done to: (1): avoid diluting the Kraft brand with a lower price image; (2) avoid antagonizing Kraft customers who paid much more for their “Kraft” branded radios; (3) enable Kraft to expand into the budget-priced market; (4) increase production runs and achieve economies of scale, and thereby (6) maximize revenue, market share and profit. This was a smart business move but by December, 1967 PCS ads began to disclose that it was “a division of Kraft Systems Inc.”

PCS’s advertising was unique and effective. After a few months of miscellaneous ads PCS hit on a winning formula. They would picture their latest transmitter with model Charlene Jones and head the ad with the slogan “A Sweetheart of a Radio”. This formula was followed until the end in 1968. In the March 1967 RCM product review on PCS, the editors said they were disappointed to open the box and not find “the beautiful girl pictured in the ad” in it.

Here are sample ads starring PCS’s sweetheart Charlene Jones, her cover picture (June 67’ MAN) and subsequent wedding to Cliff Weirick:

Jerry Pullen is credited above as the father the Proportional Control System (PCS) but was actually one of the most important fathers of proportional control systems generally. Jerry was flying his three channel feedback “Pullen Proportional” as early as 1961. Phil Kraft was impressed.

Phil Kraft’s growing RC company would ultimately beat all others and dominate the industry while Phil Kraft’s flying prowess earned him the top awards, nationally and internationally. For a unique photo of Phil Kraft standing on top of the RC world, symbolically and (almost) literally, see Kraft section.

In the early 1960’s, however, Phil Kraft was frustrated as he struggled to devise a commercially successful proportional system; he turned for help to Jerry Pullen, a top engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratories. (JPL).

In October 1963, Kraft announced that it would begin selling its Kraft Pullen proportional, but apparently never did (although there is some evidence at least some were produced with one going to Cliff Weirick, and research continues). Instead, a 4 channel proportional was sold which Pullen designed for the most part but was not a “Pullen Proportional” (3 channel analog). Therefore Kraft never paid Pullen the per unit royalty contemplated for the long planned sale of 3 channel Kraft Pullen Proportionals (although to further confuse the issue it appears the first Kraft 4 channel rigs actually said “Pullen Proportional” under the “Kraft” logo on the front of the transmitter as did the first advertisement). However, Kraft compensated Pullen by putting him on the payroll when PCS was launched, and then Jerry left his job at JPL to work full time for Kraft.