LEMCO

Lowrance Electronics Manufacturing Company ad circa 1962.

Lowrance Electronics Manufacturing Company ad circa 1962.

It may seem like we’re doing a lot of old advertisements here on the Bass Fishing Archives lately and we realize that. The fact of the matter, though, is one way to track where we’ve been and what we’ve done over the course of our history is to look at these ads. The ad featured in today’s post is just that – a look back into our history with respect to sonar and how we used the technology to assist us in finding fish.

Anyone who fishes knows the name Lowrance. Carl Lowrance along with his sons Darrell and Arlen arguably developed the first sonar specifically for the use of sportfishing in 1957. Before that if anglers wanted to know the depth of an area they used a rope with a weight attached to it. The development of the Fish Lo-K-Tor – or Little Green Box as it was also known – revolutionized the art of offshore angling.

In this ad from 1962 there are a couple of things to notice. First off look at the name of the company Lowrance Electronics Manufacturing Company (LEMCO). It’s not the familiar name Lowrance Electronics Incorporated (LEI) that we know today. Also, look and see where the company is located, Joplin, Missouri – not Tulsa Oklahoma. Lowrance moved from Joplin to Tulsa in 1967.

The ad also states that the unit (model 505) cost the angler $124.50. In 2013 money that would be about $1000.00. That makes you wonder how many people in the early days of sportfishing could actually afford one of these units and also brings to light how expensive today’s units are in comparison. I also didn’t know there was more than one model of the old Green Box – as this ad implies.

The ad also shows two othrr products that LEMCO sold at the time. The first being a book titled “The Facts of Electronic Fishing.” I’ve never seen this book but you can bet it’s high on my “want” list now.

The other interesting part of this ad is Lowrance’s Porta-Sound unit designed for hunters. It’s not hard to imagine a company based out of the Heartland would delve into the hunting industry with a device that could call in game. How long did they sell equipment targeting hunters and when did they stop manufacturing the device?

Reports state that Lowrance sold more than one million Green Boxes in their first 25 years of business. I can proudly say I was one of those people who bought one and to this day wish I hadn’t sold it.

So when was your first experience with the Little Green Box? Did you own one prior to this 1962 ad? Did you own a model other than the one shown in this ad? If so, please let us know by making a comment.

  • Brian

    From what I’ve read in some of my old newspapers, before there was the “green box”, there was actually a “red box”. Never seen a picture of one, but some have reported that it was the “non-production” model, in some cases possibly sent to staffers to use/test/promote. I do know that Al Lindner started with the “red box” before moving to the newer/better(?) green box. Back on the green box, there were many versions out there over the years beside the 505. Others I’ve seen include the P-300ME, LFP-300, LFP-300D and LFP-300F. Some of these were 60′ scale units, and others were in the 100′ scale. Some of the oldest dating back to when Lowrance was still located in Joplin have mostly yellow faceplates and numbers, with the words “fully transistorized” written under the dial scale.

    In October 1965, Bill Binkelman/Fishing News officially endorsed the Lowrance Lo-K-Tor as the best unit out there for anglers. He was even able to get the Boston Store (he was their merchandise mgr.) to start buying and selling them. A story on Bill and the beginnings of Fishing Facts is coming to the site soon – I promise 🙂

    On the books, there were at least 3 versions published. The original, I believe, is the 1961/1962 black and white version as in the picture. There was also a 100 pg. version with the same title from 1967 that had a color cover and included the full Lo-K-Tor user manual printed within it’s pages, then the updated version, “New Guide to the Fun of Electronic Fishing,” which was published in 1975.

    • Brian, I am holding you to the Fishing Facts piece along with something on the old Lowrance electronics books. No pressure at all. 🙂

      • Marvin & Jackie

        Hi Terry, we have a 505 that has been in my husband’s family forever. We also have “The Facts of Electronic Fishing“ book and a pamphlet that says “Buy yours today at the low price of $124.50 complete with bracket. It works great.

        • Hi Jackie

          That’s awesome! I bet it’s fun to go and look at. I’m still waiting on Brian to do his piece on the book. Maybe this will put him in action. 🙂

  • I well remember the first green box I was shown. I’d learned to map water by counting down jigs and the green box cost two weeks salary, with my “know it all” attitude at the time – I proclaimed a person would be nuts to buy such a costly device. Now, after owning untold numbers of depth sounders, I wonder who that know it all was-

    • Capt Bosley, I am also a bit hesitant when it comes to new technology – especially when it costs so much. But having my butt handed to me the last few weeks here in NC is making me seriously consider buying two new HDS units with sidefinders and downscan. 🙂 The topo maps are great but there’s just no substitute for seeing what’s really down there.

  • Earl lSchmidt

    Talking about the Lo K To Red Box made in Joplin, MO — I used one for quite a while before starting with the Green Box Lo K Tors. I still own the Red Box and
    a couple Green Boxes. The Red Box still works. If anyone wants pictures
    of it or the early Ads by Lowrance, let me know.

    • Earl, Thanks for the info and thanks for sending me that email. I look forward to posting the info you sent me on the site!!

  • Anna

    I actually have a green box lol no clue how to use it etc so any incite would be greatly appreciated. My email is momtoalexyss@gmail.com

  • Heather Marx

    Brian, I am very interested in more history of these. Would you be able to contact me if I give you my contact info please?