‘A-M Systems Had It’ in 1983 and We Still Do

'A-M Systems Has It' ad published in the Sep/Oct 1983 issue of Respiratory Therapy. (Image courtesy A-M Systems Archive.)

‘A-M Systems Has It’ ad published in the Sep/Oct 1983 issue of Respiratory Therapy. (Image courtesy A-M Systems Archive.)

We’ve been showcasing some of the highlights of our 40-year journey from humble beginnings to a dynamic international company. This post is the third in that series.

This week’s showcase is a print ad titled “A-M Systems Has It.” It appeared on page 14 of the Sept/Oct 1983 issue of Respiratory Therapy. The ad shows a reusable Mainflow bacterial filter, which we still carry, an inline nebulizer filter, and an oxygen flowmeter. By this time we were based in Everett, Washington.

The ad shared the page with an article by Dr. Edwin R. Levine, who was among the early advocates and a pioneer of oxygen inhalation therapy. Dr. Levine trained some of the first ‘technicians of inhalation therapy,’ helped form the Inhalational Therapy Association (ITA) in 1946, and remained its medical advisor for nine years. The I.T.A. in 1982 would become the American Association for Respiratory Care.

In the 1983 article, The fear of oxygen, Dr. Levine airs his frustration that fear of oxygen toxicity might undo four decades of advances in oxygen therapy.

For some reason which is not completely clear, a fear of oxygen has grown up among physicians and respiratory therapists. No one questions the existence of oxygen toxicity, but it is a physiologic fact that must be understood. That the lack of adequate oxygen is more dangerous than its supposed toxicity should also be recognized. In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), administration of too much oxygen suppresses the hypoxic drive and causes hypercapnia. Again, this is a matter of physiology that can be understood and managed.

What Dr. Levine labeled as a ‘fear of oxygen toxicity,’ perhaps a bit too broadly, was pervasive. And that fear led to “aggressive measures” to avoid it, according to Dr. David J. Pierson, in a brief monograph published in 2013.

High concentrations of inspired oxygen may play a role in such [ventilator-related lung] injury, but aggressive measures to reduce them in order to avoid oxygen toxicity—which dominated ventilator management in previous decades—have been tempered in the present era of lung-protective ventilation. Although some additions and modifications have emerged, much of what we understand today about oxygen in respiratory care is owed to the pioneering work of Thomas L Petty more than 40 years ago.

One of Dr. Petty’s five attributes that defined his enormous contribution to the respiratory care and oxygen therapy, Dr. Pierson wrote, was his realization that commercial respiratory care industry was critical to designing innovative medical devices and improving patient care. And Dr. Petty’s work with medical device manufacturers led to advances in oxygen therapy and mechanical ventilation we see today.

Since our birth in 1976, we’ve worked with clinicians and patients to bring pulmonary products that not only exceed international standards but also improve efficiency. Pulmonary function test kits saved the time required to set up for each patient by combing popular disposable items in a single bag. Design improvements, seen in the latest VBMax PFT filters, wouldn’t have been possible either without feedback from clinicians and patients.

And we still have it, in stock, for same-day shipment.

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Birth of the Calibration Syringe for Spirometry

An ad for a calibration syringe we published in the May/June issue of the now defunct Medical Electronics Equipment & News.)

An ad for a calibration syringe we published in the May/June 1977 issue of the now defunct Medical Electronics Equipment & News.)

In 1977, we introduced an acrylic calibration syringe designed to verify that a spirometer was measuring the flow volume correctly. Back then only two connectors were available, and the volume was limited to two liters. And the first statement on the Standardization of Spirometry wouldn’t be published for another two years.

Only two years earlier, in 1975, the Committees on Environmental Health and Respiratory Physiology of the American College of Chest Physicians called for a standardized methodology for measuring ventilatory capacity. The call to action was brought on partly by federal efforts to protect coal miners and ensure healthful working conditions.

The assessment of ventilatory capacity is being used increasingly by the medical departments of large companies for preplacement screening and for serial measurements for routine medical surveillance of workers exposed to respiratory hazards. The passage of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act will lead to a great increase in these practices. Also taking place at present is a vast amount of epidemiologic research into the causes of respiratory impairment and disability.

The Committees’ call for action was also partly due to bad “electronic spirometers” and to different methodologies used by different labs at the time.

… a significant minority of spirometers are inaccurate and technically unsatisfactory, and their use leads to confusing and spurious results. For example, the inadequacies of certain electronic spirometers have recently been the subject of some comment. It should be stressed, nevertheless, that these strictures should not be considered as a general condemnation of electronic spirometers. In addition, different laboratories use different routines for performing spirometry; …

It was obvious, however, that any spirometer should be capable of BTPS conversion and should be checked daily. In their recommendations for spirometers, the Committees said:

8. An instrument to be used under conditions of varying ambient temperatures and barometric pressures should incorporate a temperature sensing device such that the flows and volumes recorded can be corrected to body temperature saturated with water vapor (BTPS).

9. The instrument used should provide a tracing of either flow versus volume or volume versus time during the entire forced expiration. Instruments that provide electrical outputs proportional to volume and/or flow should be checked daily for calibration.

It wasn’t until May 1979 when the Snowbird Workshop on Standardization of Spirometry was published in the American Review of Respiratory Disease. It outlined standards for measuring VC, FVC, FEVt, FEV1, FEF25-75%, V and MVV, and margins of error for spirometers that were to measure the parameters. And the test signal for Vital Capacity was to be a calibration syringe.

The test signal for VC will be a calibration syringe with a volume of at least 3 liter[sic] or suitably calibrated spirometer tested over the volume range of the instrument.

After two updates, in 1987 and 1994, a joint task force of the American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society issued the latest standards in 2005. The volume of the statement grew to 20 pages (in PDF) from 11 pages (only on paper) in 1979, and became the de facto international standard.

In the 37 years since the first standards were published, the need to check a spirometer against a known volume for calibration hadn’t changed.

The syringe used to check the volume calibration of spirometers must have an accuracy of ± 15 mL or ± 0.5% of the full scale (15 mL for a 3-L syringe), and the manufacturer must provide recommendations concerning appropriate intervals between syringe calibration checks.

And A-M Systems’ commitment to producing accurate, high-quality syringe hasn’t changed either. Our 3-L calibration syringes boast a volume accuracy of ± 0.25%, or 50% better than the 2005 standards require, and includes adapters for many common spirometers.

[This is part of a series covering the highlights of our journey over the past 40 years. Thank you for supporting and following us.]

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Free Shipping on Select Pulmonary and Respiratory Supplies


As part of our 40th-anniversary celebration, we’re offering free ground shipping on a range of pulmonary and respiratory products. Use code SPRINGFREESHIP at checkout.

For a limited time, PFT filters, pulmonary function test kits, bacterial-viral filters, HME filters, breathing circuits, flow meters, turbines, nose clips, calibration syringes and more ship for free.

The free shipping offer applies to orders over $300 that are shipped to an address in the continental United States. Check out the complete list of pulmonary and respiratory products that qualify for ground shipping.

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In 1977, We Were the ‘Mouthpiece People’


The ad was published in the May/June issue of the Medical Electronics & Equipment News in 1977. (A-M Systems Archives)

Take a look at this black-and-white ad we published back in 1977! As part of A-M Systems’ 40th-anniversary celebration, we’re sharing some of the highlights from our archives. This ad was published in the May/June issue of the Medical Electronics & Equipment News in 1977 and was one of the earliest ones we dusted off.

In this ad titled “Mouthpiece People,” paper mouthpieces form a human figurine while rubber mouthpieces stand in for shoes and a top hat. Strewn about the figurine are names of leading spirometer manufacturers, including some that are no longer around.

In May 1977, silent film actor Charlie Chaplin was still alive. The Seattle Mariners were reeling from a 7-0 loss a month earlier in its first-ever game against the California Angels. Apple Computer was a month away from selling its first Apple II, and still Commodore was a few months away from releasing its PET 2001 personal transactor.

“Order By Phone Today!” was the first call to action in the print ad, reflecting a time before a global network of computers and servers. In fact, researchers in Norway, the U.K., and the U.S. would conduct a three-network Internet Protocol test later that year. And you also had to “write” us to have a catalog mailed to your home or office.

While the ad focuses on Mouthpiece People, we were much more than that. And 40 years later, we still offer the latest pulmonary function test supplies, including PFT filters and kits, calibration syringes, and disposable and reusable mouthpieces and turbines.

But one aspect of our business hasn’t changed much at all. We keep most of our products in stock and ship them the same day.

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A-M Systems Looks Forward to Its 40th Year

A-M Systems Team

Nurturing and growing a dynamic business is both challenging and rewarding, much like raising a child who brings tears and chaos as well as joy and laughter. I’ve dedicated much of my adult life to A-M Systems, so it’s exciting to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. And I, along with my family, friends and the entire “Team A-M,” can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment.

Starting in early 2015 we began holding a “Team Day” every other Friday when everyone gathers for a few hours and plays a game or two of cribbage, backgammon, Yahtzee, ping pong or foosball. And there’s always the challenging, 1,000-piece puzzle.

We're celebrating our 40th year in 2016. And we have you to thank for supporting us over the years.

We’re celebrating our 40th year in 2016. And we have you to thank for supporting us over the years.

These and other gatherings reinforce our value as a company that puts people and family first. And like most families, we’re not without growing pains or challenges to solve. But every time we’ve conquered those challenges as a team, we’ve grown as a family. That family is at the core of our evolving culture which the A-M Systems Team, our customers and distributors have come to appreciate.

I joined A-M Systems in 2000 and have been at the helm of Team A-M for the past decade, during which we’ve grown every year. And we plan to continue to cultivate growth for years to come. None of this would be possible without our newly expanded engineering team, a sales team that develops new business and takes care of our customers, or our entire team that sprints to the finish line each day.

Our distributors, many of whom are halfway across the world, have helped A-M Systems export to over 100 countries. There and in the U.S., scientists and clinicians have been using our instrumentation and medical devices for 40 years. And we’re proud of that fact.

Since our humble beginnings, A-M Systems’ 40-year journey has been rewarding and eye-opening. Our amplifiers and stimulators for the research community have helped break grounds in cutting-edge neuroscience investigations. Our bacterial-viral filters continue to serve as added layers of protection for spirometry equipment, clinicians and patients.

And we wouldn’t be here without the researchers and clinicians who have put their faith in the A-M Systems family to design, produce and deliver high-quality products. For that, I’m very thankful.

Cheers to everyone who has been part of our 40-year journey!

Arthur B. Green III
President and CEO
A-M System

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See Our New Isolated Stimulator at Neuroscience 2015

New Model 4100 Isolated Stimulator to Be Unveiled at Neuroscience 2015

Joins us at Booth 1362 at Neuroscience 2015 where we’ll unveil our new Model 4100 Isolated High Power Stimulator that features more power, more capability, and more connectivity than the previous model.

The new Isolated High Power Stimulator packs a punch in terms of power and capabilities. With an internal constant current/voltage isolator, easy-to-use controls, and complete computer connectivity (iOS, OSx, Windows, Android, and Ethernet), the 4100 is ready to be your lab’s workhorse.

Purchase of Model 4100 Isolated Stimulator Includes iPad AirThe Model 4100 is highly flexible and can deliver stimulus trains comprised of monophasic, biphasic, ramps, and/or user-generated custom waveforms. In addition, the Model 4100 stimulator can deliver traditional protocols such as LTP/LTD stimulation studies, paired pulses protocols, and stepped pulses.

The output may be switched between constant current and constant voltage modes. The high-power output signal is isolated thereby eliminating the need to purchase expensive external stimulus isolation units.

Swing by booth 1362 and learn more about the new stimulator.

Dr. Jonathan Bakin and Dr. David Mittmann will be on hand to answer any questions you might have about our lines of programmable stimulators, extracellular and intracellular amplifiers, patch clamp instrumentation, data acquisition solutions, behavior tracking systems, electrodes and electrode supplies.

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Meet the Scientist: Dr. David Mittmann


In the second installment of our “Meet the Scientist” series, we introduce Dr. David Mittmann, A-M Systems’ chief engineer.

Dr. Mittmann’s interest in bioengineering began while studying electrical engineering at Oregon State. He began work at W.L. Gore & Associates in Flagstaff, Arizona, helping develop artificial arterial grafts that were seeded with cryogenically preserved endothelial cells.

At the University of Akron for his master’s, Dr. Mittmann helped develop physical and mathematical models of unsteady fluid flow in anatomical structures.

His work at Akron City Hospital—developing bioartificial pancreas using semipermeable membranes seeded with islet cells—brought him in touch with Dr. Jeff Wenstrup of Northeast Ohio Medical University. Dr. Wenstrup’s work on neural mechanisms underlying hearing and acoustically guided behaviors intrigued Dr. Mittmann, who completed his doctorate under his guidance.


An avid hiker and a mountain climber, Dr. Mittmann stands above Mt. Baldy near Sequim, Washington. (Image Courtesy David Mittmann)

While working on his doctorate, Dr. Mittmann learned techniques for acoustic stimulation, single- and multiple-unit recording, histological techniques, and the instrumentation involved in those techniques. Dr. Mittmann continued his neurophysiology research as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Washington working with Dr. Ellen Covey and Dr. Pete Casseday. Here he helped develop the techniques for in vivo patch clamping and sonar stimuli generation.

Returning to his roots in electrical engineering, Dr. Mittmann joined A-M systems in 1998 as the chief design engineer. Seventeen years later, he works with the design team to continually improve existing instruments while developing new products that best serve our customers’ requirements.

He has helped design over 10 instruments including intracellular (Model 3100), extracellular (Model 3600) and patch clamp amplifiers (Model 2400), and stimulators (Model 3800). In addition to the neurophysiology equipment, Dr. Mittmann helps design pulmonary and spirometry products, including calibration devices (3L Calibration Syringe), mouthpieces, nose clips, and breathing filters (HME filter).

Dr. Mittmann is on his way to the top of Mount Olympus (7,800 ft) in the Olympic National Park in Washington.

Dr. Mittmann is on his way to the top of Mount Olympus (7,800 ft) in the Olympic National Park in Washington.

In the community, Dr. Mittmann used his collegiate rowing expertise to help start the Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association in Port Angeles. He has enjoyed coaching all three of his kids over the years in soccer. He’s an advocate for the Olympic Peninsula, which he calls “one of the best places for backpacking, mountain biking, and trail running.”

In his spare time, he loves to help his wife with fast-growing adventure sports events, including the Olympic Adventure Trail Run  and the Big Hurt Port Angeles .

If you have questions about any A-M Systems instruments or products, would like to have a custom instrument designed for you, or want to join him at the next tandem bike rally, please contact him at David.Mittmann@a-msystems.com.

Selected Publications:

Wenstrup, J.J., Mittmann, D.H., and Grose, C.D. (1999) Inputs to combination-sensitive neurons of the inferior colliculus. Journal of Comparative Neurology 409:509-528.

Mittmann, D.H., Wenstrup, J.J. (1995) Combination-sensitive neurons in the inferior colliculus. Hearing Research 90:185-191

Donovan, F. M. McIlwain, R. W. Mittmann, D. H. Taylor, B. C.(1994)Experimental Correlations to Predict Fluid Resistance for Simple Pulsatile Laminar Flow of Incompressible Fluids in Rigid Tubes. Journal of Fluids Engineering 116:516-521

Mittman, D.H., Taylor, B.C., and Donovan, F.M. (1993) A critical study of the suitability of the one-dimensional model for determining steady state resistance in oscillatory flow of incompressible fluids in rigid tubes. ASME Forum on Unsteady Flows, FED-Vol. 157:201-206.

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Join Us at ATS 2015 Booth #512


A-M Systems CEO Art Green and Pulmonary Product Manager David Green will answer your questions at ATS 2015 in Denver. Stop by booth #512. (Image: A-M Systems)

We’re at booth 512 at ATS 2015 in Denver, where Art Green, A-M Systems’ chief executive, and Dave Green, the pulmonary product manager, will answer all your questions about how we can help design custom solutions for your clinical setting.

A-M Systems has been manufacturing high-quality pulmonary and respiratory products since 1976 with the goal of improving patient care and helping clinicians save time. Come by and learn more about custom pulmonary function test (PFT) kits and tailored calibration programs for your clinic.

We look forward to seeing you at ATS 2015!


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Meet the Scientist: Dr. Jonathan S. Bakin


Welcome to A-M Systems’ “Meet the Scientist” blog series. The purpose of this series is to introduce you to the wide variety of scientists who over the years have selected A-M Systems products for use in their laboratory research endeavors.

A-M Systems makes a concerted effort to develop long-lasting relationships with our customers, and we do so by offering well-performing instruments and accessories at fair and equitable pricing, in addition to offering support and research guidance when possible.

We want to be a partner in your research endeavors. To ensure that we are offering the best products we can, we also go out and visit our customers at their labs, to learn a bit more about their research endeavors, what they like about our gear, and what they don’t. This blog series will feature many of the scientists we have met during these trips, in addition to those we look forward to visiting!


The one time a neuroscientist has to wear a tie. (Dr. Jonathan Bakin/A-M Systems)


But the first two installments of this series will feature A-M Systems’ own scientists, the persons directly responsible for guiding neuroscience product development at A-M Systems. This month, we will introduce you to Dr. Jonathan S. Bakin, A-M Systems Neuroscience and Physiology Product Manager. Dr. David Mittmann, A-M Systems Chief Engineer, will be profiled next month.

Dr. Jonathan Bakin’s first exposure to neuroscience was as an undergrad at University of California Irvine, where he began as an assistant in the laboratory of Dr. James McGaugh. While in Dr. McGaugh’s lab, Dr. Bakin developed a deep interest in the neurophysiology of learning and memory, with his first experiments being performed under the guidance of Dr. Paul Gold, using kindling as a model of learning.

While working in UCI’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Dr. Bakin was exposed to other laboratories, including those of Dr. Norman Weinberger and Dr. Gary Lynch. Dr. Bakin’s interests in electrophysiology led him to joining Dr. Weinberger’s laboratory, where he stayed to complete his doctorate investigating and learning-induced plasticity in the receptive field properties of auditory cortex neurons of rats and guinea pigs.

During this period, Dr. Bakin learned a variety of techniques, but the mainstay of his work was single- and multiple-unit recording in awake behaving animals with extensive classical conditioning and behavioral analysis. Following his time at Irvine, Dr. Bakin continued his interest in the mechanisms underlying behavior when he pursued a Post-Doctoral appointment at Rockefeller University with Dr. Charles Gilbert. Paired with Dr. Ken Nakayama, Dr. Bakin investigated the responses of V1 and V2 neurons to illusory contours in behaving primates.

One of the lessons Dr. Bakin learned under Dr. Weinberger is how every instrument has built-in biases and assumptions, and if you don’t understand what they are, and how they impact the performance of that instrument, then you weaken your ability to properly interpret your data. Contemporary instruments are far beyond the simple op-amp buffer circuits of 30 years ago, making this lesson even more applicable today.

During grad school, Dr. Bakin continually developed new instrumentation for use in his experiments, including designing and building his own portable, automated, calibrated, auditory stimulus delivery system; an automated whisker stimulator for use in barrel cortex research; and timing control circuitry to control stimulus and reward delivery in both operant and classical condition experiments.

This exposure to laboratory instrumentation, combined with his extensive exposure to neuropharmacological, neurophysiological, neuroimaging, and behavioral techniques made him a highly qualified candidate during A-M Systems search for a new Neuroscience Product Manager. Dr. Bakin joined A-M Systems in the summer of 2000, bringing nearly 20 years of lab experience with him in his role as “Defender of the Customer”. His current job responsibilities include guiding the design of new instruments, the selection of new products to offer, assisting customers in system design, and general technical support.

So, if you have any questions about any of A-M Systems instruments or products, or you would like to suggest new instruments or accessories for A-M Systems to manufacture, please feel free to contact Dr. Bakin at jbakin@a-msystems.com

Selected Publications:

Bakin JS, Nakayama K, and Gilbert CD (2000) Visual Responses in Monkey Areas V1 and V2 to Three-Dimensional Surface Configurations, Journal of Neuroscience, 20, 8188-8198

Weinberger NM, and Bakin JS (1998) Learning-Induced Physiological Memory in Adult Primary Auditory Cortex: Receptive Field Plasticity, Model, and Mechanisms. Audiol Neurooto, 3:145–167

Bakin JS, and Weinberger NM (1996) Induction of a physiological memory in the cerebral cortex by stimulation of the nucleus basalis. PNAS 93, 11219-24

Bakin JS, South DA, and Weinberger NM (1996) Induction of receptive field plasticity in the auditory cortex of the guinea pig during instrumental avoidance conditioning. Behavioral Neuroscience, 110, 905-913

Bakin JS, Kwon MC, Masino SA, Weinberger NM, and Frostig, RD (1996) Functional organization of auditory cortex demonstrated by intrinsic signal optical imaging. Cerebral Cortex, 6, 120-130.

Bakin JS, Lepan B, and Weinberger NM (1992) Sensitization induced receptive field plasticity in the auditory cortex is independent of CS-modality. Brain Research 577, 226-235.

Bakin JS, and Weinberger NM. Classical conditioning induces CS-specific receptive field plasticity in the auditory cortex of the guinea pig (1990) Brain Research 536, 271-286.

Weinberger JS, Ashe JH, Metherate R, McKenna TM, Diamond DM, and Bakin JS (1990) Retuning auditory cortex by learning: A preliminary model of receptive field plasticity. Concepts in Neuroscience, 1, 91-131.

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Researchers Produce First Map of Microbes in NYC Subway


(Relative amount of DNA found in the New York subway system form bacteria associated with the human body. Courtesy: Weill Cornell Newsroom)

The first-ever city-wide map of microbial diversity shows that half of all DNA on the New York City subway system’s surfaces match no known organism, and that about 10 percent of all sequenced DNA matched those related to the respiratory tract.

Results of the massive undertaking, published in Cell Systems, are part of an ongoing PathoMAP project to create a molecular portrait of New York City.

The majority of the identified bacterial, viral, fungal and animal species were harmless species that were commonly found on human skins or in the gastrointestinal tract. There were, however, DNA fragments of Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Yersinia pestis (Bubonic plague), Staphylococcus aureus, and live methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) at some of subway stations.

S. aureus is commonly found on human skins as well as in the airways and doesn’t always cause diseases. Some strains, such as the antibiotic-resistant ones, may lead to complications.

“Despite finding traces of pathogenic microbes, their presence isn’t substantial enough to pose a threat to human health,” Dr. Christopher Mason, the study’s senior investigator was quoted as saying. “The presence of these microbes and the lack of reported medical cases is truly a testament to our body’s immune system, and our innate ability to continuously adapt to our environment.

The researchers also analyzed human DNA samples left on the surfaces of the subway system and were able to successfully predict the U.S. Census demographics of a neighborhood.

The study found mostly African American and Yoruban alleles at Canarsie station in Brooklyn, while they found Mexican, Colombian and Puerto Rican alleles in a primarily Hispanic and Amerindian area of Bronx. In Midtown Manhattan, they noted an increase in British, Tuscan and other European alleles with some potentially Chinese alleles.

“This provides a forensic ability to learn about the ancestry of the people who transit a station,” Dr. Mason was quoted as saying. “[A]nd it means the DNA people leave behind can reveal a clue as to the area’s demographics.”

Weill Cornell’s news release is available here. And the full study in Cell Systems can be downloaded here.

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