[vcf-midatlantic] History-of article on Heathkit, must-read

Sentrytv sentrytv at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 7 12:22:01 EST 2020

Thank you Herb!

On that note.

Maybe VCF and InfoAge could come up with some sort of plan to have a Workshop that shows the average person what we do, as technicians and how we go about repairing computers, TVs, radios and such.
I know right now it would have to be all virtual, but I don’t think it would be much different then what VCF has done recently.

Ultimately this could be done live and a setting like VCF East.

And commenting on what Herb has said that this would help show people,
 “why we do what we do.”

Mike Rosen

Sent from:
My extremely complicated, hand held electronic device.

> On Dec 7, 2020, at 11:55 AM, Herb Johnson via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
> https://www.electronicdesign.com/communiqu/article/21148923/electronic-design-heathkit-an-employees-look-back
> A senior executive of Heathkit, Chas Gilmore, is interviewed by Lou Frenzel of Electronics Design (a trade magazine). Lou himself is a former Heathkit executive. They both came up through engineering so this article is about technology development and sales.
> The article describes now-vintage computing history at Heath. This is familiar to those of us over 60; thus it's a must-read for our younger colleagues. For those who question why those "ugly boxes full of cards" were every popular, or why people built ever computers instead of just buying them, here's the answers.
> It also underscores the impact of the MITS Altair article and product in Jan 1975 - that broke the ice-jam at every company that previously said "nobody will buy a personal computer; there's no software; there's no use for it". It follows the history of why companies like Heath declined as computing became an industrial product and then a consumer product.
> And, it describes the process for the famous Heathkit manuals. A "manual" is a like a papery-bloggy kind of thing, that described how to build a kit and how it worked, before the Internet and email. People of the era, actually wanted to learn all that stuff. They had plenty of time to read manuals, because they didn't have smartphones or NetFlix.
> Components back then were large, simpler, and designed for hand-assembly, because robots hadn't taken over yet. And as electronics  then were expensive, they were designed for long-life and human repair (and not just discarded when boring). So the manuals helped with diagnostics, the art of figuring out WHY something didn't work. Repair was a real industry and career, in that era. Many tech schools and universities used Heath products for both value and cost, and as part of their curriculum.
> In short, it's a window back in time, to answer those puzzling questions 21st century people have, about the era of now-vintage computers through one major company. It concurs with my experiences around Heath products in the 1980's.
> regards, Herb Johnson
> -- 
> Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
> http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
> preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
> email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
> or try later herbjohnson AT comcast DOT net

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