The Astatic 77 Microphone or sometimes erroneously referred to as the 77A was manufactured by the Astatic Corporation starting around 1945 and continued to be made into the 1960’s. The “A” that people often mistake as part of the model number, actually stands for Astatic and not the letter A. You can see this in their logo, where the 2nd “A” has lightning bolts emitting from it. There were quite a few well known performers who used the Astatic 77 including Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent and even Elvis Presley. That said, Elvis was more known for using the Shure 55 microphone and the post office even made a stamp of him using the 55.
The Astatic 77 was designed for high quality broadcasts, recording studios and public addresses. On the underside of the microphone there are three letters H,M,L that stand of High, Medium and Low Impedance. Depending on what the microphone was being connected to, users could switch between Impedance levels. The microphone was made out of polished satin chrome and many still retain their luster. For a little bit more money the Astatic Corporation would add an optional gold finish.
When Shure released their 55 microphone, other companies like Astatic had to think fast and also come out with a great looking mic. Astatic answer was the 77 Microphone. As a testimate to the great design, other companies would soon try to capitalize on the looks by making similar designs. Some of these companies included Calectro, Calrad, Claricon, & Lafayette. Their designs however fell short in both quality and craftsmanship. It was a time when American manufacturing was superior to their Asian counterparts. Japan still climbing out of it’s war torn economy just couldn’t compete in the quality department.
The Astatic Corporation was incorporated in 1933 in Conneaut, Ohio by C.M. Chorpening (Vice President) and F.H. Woodworth (President).
From what I can tell, there were at least 2 versions of the Astatic 77. The first version doesn’t have an on/off selection switch. The second version which does, was probably released later and might have been released around the time that Shure released their 55SW. The “W” standing for switch. I have come across 2 other models including the 77-L & 77-G, but I am not sure what those letters designate.
The difference between the Astatic 77 and the 77-L had to do with mounting. The 77-L just had the head only and was used to mount on desk top type G-Stands, where the lower portion of the microphone wasn’t needed. The 77-L was most likely used for broadcast type settings, where the announcer would be sitting at a desk.
You will see many of the Astatic 77s missing their colorful 77A name tag. These name tags weren’t that secure, so if the microphone got bumped around a bit, it could easily go missing.