Meade Instruments

Meade Instruments
Meade Instruments Corporation
Type Public (NASDAQMEAD)
Founded 1972
Headquarters Irvine, California, USA
Key people Steven Murdock, CEO
John Elwood, CFO

Meade Instruments Corporation (aka Meade) is a multinational company headquartered in Irvine, California, that manufactures, imports, and distributes telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, CCD cameras and telescope accessories for the consumer market.[1] It is the world's largest manufacturer of telescopes.[2] Besides selling under its "Meade" brand name, the company sells solar telescopes under the Coronado name. Its products are also imported and sold in Europe by a former subsidiary under the Meade and Coronado brand names.[3]


Origins and history

Founded in 1972 by John Diebel, Meade started out as a mail order seller of small refracting telescopes and telescope accessories manufactured by the Japan based Towa Optical Manufacturing Company.[2] Meade started manufacturing its own line of products in 1976, introducing 6" and 8" reflecting telescopes models in 1977. In 1980 the company ventured into the Schmidt-Cassegrain market that up to that time had been dominated by Celestron Corporation.[2] Meade has a long history of litigation with other companies over infringement of their patents, particularly with its once bitter rival Celestron. In August 2008, Meade modified their line of schmidt-cassegrain telescopes with changes to the optical surfaces in design they call "Advanced Coma-Free optics" (ACF Optics).[4]


A 40 cm Meade LX200 in the York University Observatory

Meade manufactured its products formerly in Irvine, California, and currently in an expanded plant in Tijuana, Mexico.[5] Products produced by Meade include:[6][7]

Catadioptric cassegrains

ACF Telescopes

ACF (Advanced Coma-Free) is an altered version of the Meade's previous schmidt-cassegrain telescopes that replaces the traditional spherical schmidt-cassegrain secondary mirror with a hyperbolic secondary mirror. In the new design the full aperture corrector is slightly altered in shape and combined with a spherical primary mirror.[8] Meade's literature originally describe their ACF as a variation on the Ritchey-Chrétien telescope, although it does not use the two hyperbolic mirror combination in that design (being more of an aplantic design).[9] After a legal settlement Meade dropped the claim.


Maksutov telescopes

The Meade "ETX" series Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope (105mm aperture).

Meade currently produces a line of Maksutov telescopes under their ETX series (Everybody's Telescope). They were first produced in 90 mm (3-1/2") Maksutov Cassegrain telescope in 1996. They range in size from 90 mm to 125 mm.

Newtonian telescopes

GoTo telescopes

Many Meade telescope lines are classified by the self aiming computerized alt-azimuth and equatorial mounts they come on, a technology commonly called a "GoTo" mount.

  • LXD75, including Newtonian, Schmidt-Newtonian, Advanced Coma-Free, and achromatic refractor telescopes
  • ETX-LS, a 150mm (6 in) F/10 ACF telescope on a single-fork arm.
  • DS-2000 Series, 80mm (3.1") refractor, 114mm (4.5") and 130mm (5.1") reflector on altazimuth Goto mounts
  • LX80

Solar telescopes

In 2004, Meade acquired Coronado Filters from founder and designer David Lunt,[14][15] who produce an extensive range of specialty telescopes that allow views of the sun in Hydrogen-Alpha, and formerly, at Calcium K line wavelengths. The Meade Coronado telescopes are called "Solarmax 40" or higher depending on the model.

Coronado Personal Solar Telescope

Other products

  • Achromatic Refractors (5 and 6-inch)
  • Meade also sells under the "Meade" name imported low to moderate cost reflectors and refractors intended for the beginner retail market.

Telescope accessories

Accessories produced by Meade include the series 5000 eyepieces that are comparable in construction to those of Chester, New York-based Tele Vue Optical's "Nagler" (82-degree field of view), "Panoptic" (68-degree field of view), and "Radian" (60-degree field of view) eyepieces. Meade sells Deep Sky and Lunar digital imagers for telescopes. They also market the mySKY & mySKY Plus, multi-media GPS devices guiding users to the sky, similar to the competing Celestron SkyScout.

Meade lawsuit

In November, 2006, plaintiffs including Star Instruments and RC Optical Systems, manufacturers of traditional Ritchey-Chrétien optics and telescopes, filed a civil lawsuit against Meade, several dealerships, and other individuals in federal court (New York Southern District). The complaint was against Meade advertising their RCX400 and LX200R models as "Ritchey-Chrétien." The plaintiffs claimed these models did not use true Ritchey-Chrétien optics and therefore Meade and its retailers were committing false advertising infringing on the plaintiff's market.[16] In January 2008, Meade settled, with a "small" amount paid to the plaintiffs and the requirement to rename the affected products, not using any initials that might suggest Ritchey-Chrétien.[17]

Financial problems

Meade has had financial problems in the past and has survived with the help of its founder, John Diebel, purchasing back the company.[18] However, Meade in the past few years has run into another round of financial woes, since Diebel sold the company again. The previous CEO since May 2006, Steve Muellner[19] had announced various bad news for the company since he had the lead role for Meade. Meade's Irvine, California manufacturing plant was closed, with manufacturing moved to a new plant in Mexico, and a majority of the administrative positions were cut.[20][21] Meade's customer service line has also been affected by the move to Mexico, including shorter operating hours and the elimination of the callback option.[22][23] Meade is also looking at other options for the uncertain future of the company.[24][25] No matter what the future was holding for the company, Muellner and some of the board members signed an agreement to cover themselves financially.[26]

In April 2008, Meade sold two of its three non-telescope product brands (Weaver/Redfield) to two companies for a total of $8 million. However, as compensation for divestiture of these two brands, out-going VP of Sales, Robert Davis, received a $100,000 bonus from the company.[27][28] On June 13, 2008, Meade sold their last non-telescope brand Simmons to Bushnell for $7.25 million.[29][30] Also in 2008, Meade's stock value fell below one dollar, bringing up the possibility of Meade being delisted from the stock exchange.[31] On October 3, 2008, Meade eliminated Donald Finkle's Senior Vice President position with the company providing him with one year of salary as severance and certain other benefits.[32]

Meade announced on January 29, 2009 that it had sold Meade Europe, its European subsidiary, for 12.4 million dollars, thus relieving much of Meade's debt. However, that reduced the company's assets greatly.[33] Further changes and unknown stability of the company was announced on February 5, 2009, with the resignation of Steve Muellner, Chairman of the Board Harry Casari and fellow board member James Chadwick. Former CEO Steven Murdock was reinstated as Meade CEO.[34] On March 5, 2009, the company announced the resignation of CFO Paul Ross and the assumption of the position by John Elwood. With his resignation, Ross receives a severance in the lump sum of $260,000.[35] During the summer of 2009, Meade announced a 20:1 reverse stock split in hopes of raising the value of their stock.[36]


  1. ^ "Intellectual property, by Gordon V. Smith, Russell L. Parr, page 167". Google Books. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c ", Meade Instruments Corporation". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ Meade Instruments Announces Sale of Meade Europe Operations for Gross Cash Proceeds of US$12.4 Million Retrieved Jan 29, 2009
  4. ^ After 27 Years of Continuous Production, Meade Drops Schmidt-Cassegrain Optics – Biotech Week, August 27, 2008 – archive[dead link]
  5. ^ "Tour The New Meade Mexico Manufacturing Facility". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Meade Telescopes, Meade, Mead, Telescopes by Meade, Meade Instruments". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  7. ^; The Optical History of Meade Telescopes
  8. ^ "Rod Mollise, ''Choosing and Using a New CAT: Getting the Most from Your Schmidt Cassegrain'', page 65". Google Books. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Rod Mollise, ''Choosing and Using a New CAT: Getting the Most from Your Schmidt Cassegrain'', page 59". Google Books. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  10. ^ "LX90 Series". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  11. ^ "LX200 ACF Series". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  12. ^ [ Durango Skies – LX400-ACF 20" (f/8) w/UHTC on MAX Mount w/Tripod
  13. ^ "LX800 Series – Meade Instruments – Telescopes, Solar Telescopes, Accessories, Telescopes by Meade". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  14. ^ Tresch, Richard (January 18, 2005). "Sky & Telescope: David Lunt (1942–2005)". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  15. ^ David Lunt biography, Solar Filter designer
  16. ^ Tom’s Astronomy Blog » Blog Archive » The Meade Lawsuit[dead link]
  17. ^ Meade Instruments, Star Instruments and RC Optical Systems Agree to Settlement: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance[dead link]
  18. ^ "Company Seven | Meade Instruments company history page". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Meade Instruments Corp (MEAD.O) Officers & Directors | Stocks |". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Meade Instruments to cut 120 jobs". Reuters. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  21. ^ Meade moves production to Mexico[dead link]
  22. ^ "Meade Instruments Corporation – Contact Information". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  23. ^ Meade customer service phone line
  24. ^ "Meade hires Robert W. Baird to review strategic options". Reuters. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  25. ^ 10:00 pm EST. "MEAD: Summary for MEADE INSTRUMENTS – Yahoo! Finance". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  26. ^ Executive Retention Agreement[dead link]
  27. ^ Material Definitive Agreement, Bonus Agreement[dead link]
  28. ^ Change in Directors or Principal Officers[dead link]
  29. ^ "Meade Instruments Announces Sale of Simmons Brand". Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  30. ^ Meade Instruments sells Simmons brand, assets[dead link]
  31. ^ Meade Instruments Receives Nasdaq Deficiency Notice Related to Minimum Bid Price Rule Retrieved August 12, 2008
  32. ^ Change in Directors or Principal Officers Retrieved October 3, 2008
  33. ^ Meade Instruments Announces Sale of Meade Europe Operations for Gross Cash Proceeds of US$12.4 Million Retrieved Jan 29, 2009
  34. ^ Meade Instruments Announces Resignation of Steven Muellner Retrieved Feb 5, 2009
  35. ^ Change in Directors or Principal Officers Retrieved March 9, 2009
  36. ^ Meade Instruments Announces Reverse Stock Split Retrieved Aug 8, 2009

External links

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