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

Bill Degnan billdegnan at gmail.com
Mon Dec 7 12:40:31 EST 2020

On Mon, Dec 7, 2020 at 12:22 PM Sentrytv via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:

> 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
That's exactly why we started workshops back in the MARCH days.  I for one
really wanted to learn more from others more about the methodology of old
computer repair, electronics, and testing.  I wanted to learn about S-100
and DEC/PDP tech, which was before my time.  We did a lot more with memory
maps and program listings.  We played around with in-circuit emulators
too.  I was always impressed with how some of the folks could trace a board
without a schematic to troubleshoot it.  Back in the mid 2000's there were
few Youtube how to videos and a lot of the knowledge that's easy to find
today had to be re-learned and re-documented for the vintage computer
hobbyist.  It was much harder to find manuals and documentation and we used
to meet just to share paper copies of manuals and hard to find parts at
earlier MARCH workshops.  We were more focused on S-100, diskdrives and
older stuff then.  Anything older than an IBM PC.

I don't agree that you can easily teach old-school at a VCF unless you
disallow use of the internet and electronic copies of manuals to be used to
tackle a problem.  In other words, you'd have to "make it hard again" to
really teach what it was like.  That's the kind of hacking you did with
Heathkit manuals and why good manuals were the key to their business.

The accomplishments at today's VCF workshops are equally impressive perhaps
but tools are a mix of old and new.  The nature of diagnosis and repair has
evolved away from purely vintage/old school ways.


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