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 Post subject: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:11 pm
Posts: 1277
Location: Maryland
Over the years I’ve compiled a list of things from the bygone days of electronics. These are things that may never be seen or heard by the new crowd!

Do you remember…

When RF coils had trimmer capacitors before those powdered iron cores that cracked while adjusting them with a plastic ‘diddle stick’, and the pain it was to try to salvage the K-Tran coil with those the brass clips?

When names like Switchcraft, Meissner, and Centralab, Stancor, Triad, National, Stackpole , National and General Radio were as common as ‘made in China’ is today

The anguish of soldering tinsel wire ends to phone tip plugs before you learned the trick of binding the tinsel wire with a fine copper wire first?

The degaussing coil and the ritual it took to converge a color picture tube. Adjusting all the set’s pots, coils and magnets just to get pretty dots and then to find that the rebuilt tube went gassy!

Replacing set top antenna rods, and one size fits all screw-on-the-back antenna and when UHF antennas were a round ring or a bowtie.

The series and parallel picture tube ‘boosters’ and the amazing CRT rejuvenation process?

The all American five radio that had anybody’s name on it but usually used a 30/50uf / 150v cap and a #47 pilot lamp with that rock solid five tube line up?

Wrapping a single strand of fine copper wire around the pins on an ac plug and waiting for your side kick to plug it in?

Radio knobs for half flat shafts with a flat spring to hold it on, and those splined control shafts.

Terms like linearity, height control, tripler, width, color phase, focus, B-Boost and damper diode that are just not heard anymore?

TV barrel tuners with snap out tuning strips that sometimes snapped out and tore up the tuner contacts?

When Hewlett Packard made professional test equipment and not mediocre computer gear?

The first mechanical TV remotes that used ultrasonic signals and that channels could be changed by shaking a hand full of change?

The 2 pounds of screws and parts you removed to replace belts on a reel to reel tape or VCR deck?

Cleaning VCR heads and replacing your first one and your feeling when it actually worked.

All the old, but still good tubes we collected but never used.

The ten pound line isolation transformer that we used on AC/DC sets, and the exciting flash we got from the instrument ground clip on the chassis when we didn’t!

Heathkit’s first kit, the “Benton Harbor Lunchbox” and how they really got started?

The ‘odd’ tubes like the compactron, novar, loctal, acorn and some with wire leads, and don’t forget those with grid and plate caps, metal shells and the lead covered ones?

Installing automobile rear seat speakers and the after-market fader control on the plastic bracket.

Rebuilding a TV tuner because the owner lost the channel selector knob and used pliers to turn the shaft?

When TV coax cable came out and all the adapters and splitters to make it work with 300 ohm sets.

Early TV’s had small screens and a ‘Magnifier’ button or a glass lens to make the picture look larger?

Digging through the big junk box full of knobs, hoping to make a match for that lost or broken knob?

The plug in picture tube boosters that helped show a better picture from a dying tube?

The round red burn on your forearm when you touched the top of a hot 6L6 or 5U4

Tar dripping from power and output transformers?

Military surplus crystals that hams could disassemble and re-grind to change frequency?

The big battles between what was best, Beta or VHS, and now who cares!

The wonder of ‘shrink tubing’ compared to varnished cambric?

The gashes you got when you discovered the high voltage charge still on the picture tube?

When coffee cans and cigar boxes with masking tape labels stored our parts on a shelf?

When a ‘cursor’ was not an arrow on a screen but was related to K&E and the C and D scales

That dangerous, unexpected, unpleasant but not uncommon jolt from the B-boost voltage?

When the Simpson 260 or Triplet 630 was the bench standard right next to the VTVM?

Using an audio signal tracer to troubleshoot audio circuits?

Did you ever question the system of tube numbering and wonder if there was a secret you were missing?
And then the system of transistor numbering and knew it made no sense.

Console TV’s that were more furniture than electronics and audio amplifiers that were more transformer than anything else?

The glow of the green ‘Magic Eye’ tuning indicator?

Three and four prong car radio vibrators, the OZ4 and don’t forget that buffer capacitor?

The orange GE filament tester that we all carried right next to the sand coated ‘fusistors’, and the tangled cheater cords in the huge tube caddy?

Microphone wiring that was not balanced and used the noisy Switchcraft screw on connector?

Buying matched output tubes for big amplifiers.

That sinking feeling watching a picture tube being damaged while being rejuvenated, even when the customer was warned it could happen?

Concentric controls that were built up from parts from CTS and the tool they sold to hold the control when you cut the shafts to length?

“S” clips and fuse springs that allowed you to piggyback or replace a 3AG pigtail fuse?

Military and high end test equipment that had the chassis stamped with designations for the tubes and critical parts?

Console radios that had a jack on the back chassis that said ‘For TV’ and the black and white TV’s that had a jack that said ‘For Color’

Names products like Contactene, Wissh, GC Cement and Corona Dope, High Voltage Putty, were on the shelf over your bench?

When was the last time you saw a ‘resistor’ line cord? (3 wires with a filament dropping resistor)

The anguish of wiring your first BNC type cable connector.

When the ‘O’scope was the first thing on in the morning and the last thing off at night?

When car radios were two piece assemblies and the dash part was a mechanical assembly with flex cables to tune the radio?

Speakers that used field coils used as a power supply choke instead of a permanent magnets?

Do the numbers 1R4,1T4,1U4,1U5,SV4 or 3S4 mean anything to you, and how you hated to work on those sets?

The black 2 wire AC plugs with the 3AG fuses inside?

Diagnosing a power supply problem by the unmistakable smell of a bad selenium rectifier or the all too familiar hum of a bad filter capacitor?

Finding the right spring and restringing a dial cord on table model radios, or worse yet, a multi-band radio!

Hitting the socket of the picture tube and that unforgettable hiss of your money being sucked out?

The Ungar soldering ‘pencil’ with a ceramic heater that heated the room and was hot enough to light a cigarette?

Flipping over your first hand wired chassis and wondering how that rat’s nest could ever possibly work?

Those handy socket adapters that brought the pins out for testing, but sometimes affected the circuit?

The “Test Jigs” for servicing consoles so you didn’t have to pull the CRT and the ton of adapters?

When radio antennas went from long wires, to loops on the back, to those amazing ferrite loopsticks?

Names like Heathkit, Eico, Knight Kit, Paco, Sencore and B&K were nearly household names

Before H.W Sams, when manufacturers would mail you a schematic and put tube layout labels inside?

Working on your first Zenith Transoceanic radio?

Being draped over the seat, with your head under the dash of a car to pull the 6x9 speaker for re-coning?

When power cords were wired-in, and they used the ‘UL knot’ as a strain relief?

Throat microphones and headsets with cloth bands and caps you could remove to change the diaphragm?

Looking at the NTSC waveform and trying to explain it to someone?

When TV’s and radio’s had cardboard backs with press in spring clips and interlock power cords?

The signature trademark of the chrome plated McIntosh chassis?

Suppressors we installed to remove the ignition popping and whining generator sounds in the AM radio?

When neighbors and friends asked “Do you still fool around with radio’s and TV’s?

When some early televisions had variable tuning, before detent tuning was popular?

The ‘Whole House Antenna’ ads that claimed to use the power wiring as a TV antenna

Trying to repair the damaged veneer on an old cathedral style RCA or Philco radio?

When quality electronic equipment had a harness tied with wax cord and lead dress was a work of art?

Relays that you cleaned with a burnisher and adjusted with a special set of relay tools?

When integrated circuits were multi-wired device in a round package and when the DIP first surfaced?

Why the #47 pilot lamp was so critical for the 35W4 / 35Z5 tube?

How many ¼ inch nut drivers did you wear out removing thousands of fasteners, and how about those really long ones for removing a control assembly from the front of a console TV?

Early circuit boards that were burned and arced all around the hot tubes in a table model radio?

The attempt at remote control using a mechanical adapter for the TV channel knob and a long cable?

The resistor substitution box, and ruining its resistors when you exceeded their wattage?

Shorted windings in a flyback or yoke that you were really not sure about without special test gear.

Does 10.7Mhz, 455Khz or 256 Khz ring a bell, or ‘haystack curve’ and ‘bias box’ likely to bring back thoughts of a sweep marker generator?

When ‘tape recorder’ meant open reels, then cassette then 8 track and then, they all went away?

Does ‘galena crystal strike a ‘sweet spot’ with the magic of your first crystal radio?

When that pointer of your d’Arsonoval meter hung mid scale and you successfully repaired it.

Installing a ‘socket savers’ in your tube tester instead of replacing worn sockets and the gizmo that straightened the bent tube pins?

When all the telephones were black, had no dial, and said ‘Number Please” when you picked them up?

‘Twist Lock’ capacitors and all their various mounting plates?

The large cassettes, made like the compact cassette, that was produced by RCA for the broadcast industry? It’s about as rare as the 8” floppy disk?

The excitement when the ‘replacement transistors’, like ECG and SK made life a lot easier?

The Carl and Jerry tales in the early Popular Electronics (Some stories are still online)?

The odd fragrance, kind of like moth balls, when opening a new kit from Heath Knight or Eico?

Who still remembers what 3.579545 Mhz was all about?

Those amazing Sencore analyzers that you lusted for, but could not really justify, and are now sold on eBay for dimes on the dollar?

Carbon resistors, before being insulated, had paint covering the wire leads on the ends of the carbon rod.

A crimper that was used to repair a bad solder joint in the hollow pins on an old CRT?

The magic of the Weller soldering gun, and the cost of the tips that caused you to make them from heavy copper wire?

That amazing and classic Muntz TV, with it’s mismatch of parts, that somehow, it still worked.

The enormous soldering iron we used to solder chassis braid wire, the Kester flux and of course the orange roll of Kester solder, unless you were fortunate enough to have the more expensive Ersin Multi-core?

When telephones were hardwired, used the large 4 pin round jack before modular jacks, and they all belonged to Ma Bell?

Trying to rewire a tube socket because the tube you needed was unavailable?

When hotels and motels used several antennas to get the best signal from each station?

Battery operated soldering irons that really never worked well and their expensive tips?

The metal clamp-on service mirror and aluminum reflector lamp we burned our forehead on, that we all had so we could work from the back of the TV while making adjustments?

When telephones had party lines, and all the different ringing schemes.

The pegboard wall of adapters leads and clips of every description, except of course the one you need?

The RCA tube manual and its companion, the tube substitution guide.

When the term ‘breadboard’ really meant to use a bread board

Before magnetic tape, those audio recorders that used a thin strand of ferrous wire.,

The stuffed file cabinets of Photo Fact drawings and Rider manuals that were our bibles of the day?

When Webster, Truetone, Airline, Talk-a-Phone, Webcor, Emerson, Zenith, Sylvania, Silvertone, and occasionaly Hallicrafter and Wollensak were names seen on a service tickets?

Drilling out the rivets to change a broken wafer type tube socket?

Having a B&W TV customer tell you “Well since you have to change the picture tube, can you put a colored one in”?

The ‘Tough Dog” set you slaved over and then the parts house counterman told you what he thought was wrong, and he was right!

The famous RCA KCS47 chassis, its variants and the consoles with a pilot light at the cabinet bottom?

Disconnecting the ringer on an ‘illegal’ extension phone so you wouldn’t get caught?

The TV troubleshooting guides that had pictures of wiggly screens and suggested the tubes to replace?

Drug store tube testers, their big roll charts, all the worn out sockets with the cabinet full of tubes below?

Working for hours on a GE portable TV and no matter what, it never was quite right?

When AM radio pushed aside by FM, which was pushed aside by stereo, then quadraphonic tried to push, and it got pushed back?

This one goes way back? How about the Raytheon CK722 transistor?

TV antenna terminals that were two screws, the miserable twin-lead wire and the bulky foam wire?

When hardware stores carried glass insulators and porcelain knife switches for long wire antennas?

Tinnerman nuts holding the speakers, the plastic studs that broke and the special tool to remove them?

The TV set with the broken CRT neck and the tape someone tried to fix it with?

When the parts house carried rolls of grill cloth and wood cabinet resurfacing materials

Insulated staples and the larger head wire tacks for fastening wire, before staple guns?

The syringe like tool that forced cleaner through the front bushing of a noisy volume control?
Cleaning up wax that dripped from aged capacitors?

When ‘bell wire’ was cotton covered solid copper and you ran two together as a pair?

Tube shields, JAN sockets, and tube retainer springs that cost a bundle?

Cutting and filing a chassis for a project and wishing that Greenlee punches weren’t so expensive?

Small value capacitors that looked like traffic signals, and the odd codes they had?

Stocking 90, 45 and 7.5 volt batteries for ‘portable’ radios

When most control knobs had set screws and some were wood with brass inserts?

Variable air tuning capacitors, their ‘trimmers’, and the scratchy noise they made when they were dirty?

And... How now, much do you really remember?


“To invent, you need a good imagination and a big pile of junk.” (T. Edison)
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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:18 pm 
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Location: Mideast USA
E x c e l l e n t recopilation, Len. Thanks. :grin:

Read all of them, and many reminded of some others to be added, just to find them later in the list.
My first cordless telephone in 1971 was impressive, worked from across the street ! And from inside the parked car by the sidewalk too !
Put a vibrator AC inverter in my 6V '64 VW buggy to run my Sony TC-252 reel-to-reel full blast in the back seat ! Police stopped me for a minor whatever and let go admiring the rig.
Splicing tapes, replacing and aligning tape heads, looking always for drive belts.
The Shure V15 types...
Amateur radio 2m talkies, building repeaters, mounting them on mountain peaks, solar panel$, systems interlaced with CSI simplex phone patch, having full telephone access anywhere, in car or walking, I mean anywhere! by 1977
A wealthy friend's dad had a 1968? jewels mounted gimbal tonearm record player... Brand was something like Sherwood? Never been able to locate such fine beast.
The transistor radios showed how many transistors had inside as level of sophistication.
Zillion hours in front of my AKAI GX-365D.
Much better times gone, getting dizzy seeing a 33 rpm turn and turn and turn...
The Garrard, Dual brands...
Built about 10 discotheques in early seventies... Great times.

Miguel :grin:

- Abolish the deciBel ! -
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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:07 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2002 1:01 am
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Location: USA / North Carolina / Fayetteville
ya well so am i..
i had so many flash backs on that stuff, unreal how much stuff i remembered.
way too cool..
now if only you had pictures of all them things

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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:11 pm
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Location: Maryland
Pictures?...You want pictures! :???:
I probably have most of the stuff someplace around here!
Len :grin:

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
― Thomas Edison


“To invent, you need a good imagination and a big pile of junk.” (T. Edison)
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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:53 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:01 am
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Quite a stroll down memory lane. Almost forgot about that stuff until you mentioned it. But the thing I remember most is the first time I opened the back of a large piece of electronic equipment - The dim orange glow of the vacuum tubes and barely audible relays clicking away - It was absolutely pure magic to me. I had to know how this stuff worked and so began a long journey in the world of electronics.

Nice job Len!

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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:06 pm 
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Location: Maryland
You are so right. There was some magic in those 'dim bulbs'.
I started early and have been into many areas of electronics and seen many amazing changes. From the superheterodyne radio and the racket of a relay based telephone exchange to our microprocessor driven world is quite a journey. Yes, I let the magic smoke out many times but the genie is still in the bottle!



“To invent, you need a good imagination and a big pile of junk.” (T. Edison)
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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:47 am 
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Location: USA / North Carolina / Fayetteville
Lenp >> you mentioned the relay racks for the telephone exchanges..there is a museum in Germany that has a room with about 20 telephones and several of them relay racks. you can see them work as you dial the phone to call another phone in the room, it is pretty neat thing to see..

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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:09 am 
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Telephony has been one of my a keen interests, and years ago I worked a stint as a central office installer for Western Electric. A few years ago I visited a newer central exchange and what a difference! Instead of all the clatter of relays, crossbar switches and the racket of older step by step systems, it was a quiet, almost church like room. All the racks are being fed by fibre cables, with blinking LED eyes in the night, and a few keyboards and screens scattered about. The air conditioning made the most noise.
What a long path from local battery, two short one long ring, and "Number Please", to now.


I still have a box full of salvaged rotary stepper switches, if anyone remembers them! :idea:


“To invent, you need a good imagination and a big pile of junk.” (T. Edison)
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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:38 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2001 1:01 am
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OK, Len. I give up. If that list is original with you, you are showing your age.

One might add the long hours in the night in front of the Knight-Kit R-100A listening to Portugal, Luxembourg, South Africa, Australia, Moscow. Today, even the ChiComs broadcast from the SE United States, so DXing isn't what it was at all.

Nights combing the AM broadcast band for stations from KSL to WWVA.

WWV when the station was in Maryland and broadcast the time at FIVE minute intervals with the wildest modulation schemes each minute, including a minute of silence with only the "ticks" present. Back then it was the Nation Bureau of Standards.

Remember when 5% resistors were military or luxury items? 10% and 20% were the norm. The only place you ever saw 1% resistors was in better multimeters and VTVMs.

VTVMs!! VOMs!! Lots of scales. Parallax. Interpolation. Bent pointers. Circuit loading.

Recurrent sweep scopes. None of that TIME/DIV or VOLTS/DIV stuff, let alone trigger level or slope.

Lissajous patterns. Never used them much, so can't spell them.

Having to wait 15 seconds for equipment to come alive and another hour for it to be half-way stable.

Being amazed at the Hewlett-Packard 524 frequency counter and it's rows of neon lamps light up the numbers. All 96 tubes of it.

The veterinarian communicated with his office via two-way business-band radio.

CB had 23 channels and operator call letters. And they used them.

CB was limited to 5 watts. Well, it still is, but ......

The cops set up those little tripods on the shoulder of the road that magically figured out how fast you were going.

Remember long distance calls? Remember the burden of area codes? Remember when there weren't area codes and your phone number was BRidge 8-3523?

Remember when all sirens on emergency vehicles were driven by electric motors? The big fire engines still usually have one on their front bumper. Len remembers the hand-cranked ones.

Remember when microwave ovens didn't exist? Neither did electronic kitchen timers. Ice makers in refrigerators consisted of lots of metal trays with release levers locked into place by frozen water.

Home computers? Video games? Cellular phones? Answering machines? eBooks?

Remember when adding machines were all mechanical and used a pull-handle on the side as the "function" key? And all they did was add? And the little grocery store in town used one at their check-out stand?

THE rock station to listen to in town was on AM. FM was for classical and underground stations. Mostly experimental. Nobody had a radio that could receive FM anyway.

Transistor (for that matter, all) radios were AM only, often only the AM broadcast band, sometimes shortwave added on the bigger table and console radios.

16-2/3, 33-1/3, 45 and 78 meant something very serious.

15, 7-1/2, 3-3/4 and 1-7/8 meant something even more serious.

Remember when anyone of any sense at all had memorized the pin layout of a 5U4/5Y3/5R4 or a 12AU7/12AT7/12AX7?

Remember when we thought that those new integrated circuits would never replace vacuum tubes, let alone transistors, in the consumer and hobby world? Do you know how hard it is today to find an exact replacement vacuum tube or transistor?

Do you remember when the Boeing 707 replaced the Super Constellation and how we all said, "How do they get that massive thing to fly?"

Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:00 am 
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Location: Maryland

Yes I can remember my first kit, a Knight Space Spanner, a gutless wonder wooden cabinet super-regen receiver, and the first time I heard Quito Equador (HCJB). I also remember 'booking' a call from the UK to the the US and waiting hours for the ring back. If I had that Space Spanner I would probably prop my copy of the first Popular Electronics that I have right next to it!
Wow, I digress past my nap time...



“To invent, you need a good imagination and a big pile of junk.” (T. Edison)
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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:28 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:01 am
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And as Archie would say---"Ahh, those were the days"

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 Post subject: Re: Do You Remember....
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:57 pm 
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And today, if those guys (us?) can't change the settings on their browser, or forward a cellphone call, or switch to "Aircraft Mode", they're considered a blithering idiot.
In the day, we got into electronics for what it was. Now, you can't function without several email accounts, and a head full of passwords. Nobody even considers remembering phone numbers!
As for history, I knew my 90 watt Eico CW transmitter was putting out a signal, because I could see the 6146 final had glowing red plates! Now, it's a desktop whip antenna, a laptop, and an SDR USB stick.
We had a fun run boys!

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