Do you remember Heathkit
? Hard to miss them if you happened upon a copy of Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, or any number of magazines in the 70's, including Rolling Stone. Heathkit once sold DIY kits of all stripes, designed to teach you electronics while you built consumer electronics. TV repair, HAM radio, ultimately even calculators
and robotics were all packaged and promoted by the venerable supplier. Heathkit today is largely an educational supplier, and doesn't market to the average consumer like they used to. One could argue, with the ready supply of cheap electronics from all over the world, are people really interested in DIY electronics? Based on what I've seen from companies like Bug Lags
, I certainly hope not.
At any rate, I found a neat site that is an homage to an earlier time, when Heathkit's bread-and-butter was the DIY electronics gizmo-- the Heathkit Museum
. Unfortunately I couldn't find any 70's era kits at this particular museum, the stuff I remember, and nothing on what may be the coolest Heathkit of all: the HERO robot
. But there is a pretty good timeline of Heathkit's evolution here
. Heathkit turned 60 this year, which is pretty outstanding, given the changing tastes of our electronic lifestyles.