I like many of you had my first experience with electronics through the electronic kits that Radio Shack has had over the years. The versions that spanned the 50, 100, 200 electronic experiments all come to mind.
My question is...how many versions and types of these kits have they had over the years?
I would be interested in hearing which ones you recall.
I'm not going to try to address any or all of the issues as to market needs, pay scales, bla bla blah - but I will say - I suppose these kids today - think those video games and so on - appear out of no where. Yes, maybe they can program something on a computer to do that - but they should try tackling the "component" level stuff. Actually learn what it takes to do all that. There are probably a host of reasons we could bring up as to "why" they don't - but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Even miniaturization goes so far...... if the demand for the larger parts such as we're used to working with would increase - maybe the action would pick back up.
As to the kits and Radio Shack, I learned from their books. My father bought me like a 50 in 1 kit from Lafayette Radio - I think! Back then, Radio Shack hadn't gotten in our area yet. BUT then when they did, I bought every book they had. I've had technical training since then and went beyond that. I build items from junk parts just to have something to do when not repairing. It is a very enjoyable hobby. I went to a Hamfest this past summer and someone gave me a 150 in 1 kit with a book. I have other items here which have power strips and so on - but you have to supply the parts yourself. But still - makes for a lot of designing fun.
Hi Lou, long time no see. I don't think they "thought" anything. Just filling a niche marketing wise. Lots of kids have an interest in something new - not necessarily something specific - and the only way for a parent to capitalise on what might be a budding ambition would be exposure to something like this kit rather than just disassembling the family's clock radio. Anybody who has raised a kid who wanted to be a "musician" in the school band at about 7th-8th Grade knows what I'm talking about :) Hehe...I remember my "chemistry set". It actually had instructions about how to make a stink bomb. That didn't turn me towards being a chemist but the exposure to all that stuff at least gave me some cognizance of what it was all about at an age when I knew absolutely zip about chemicals. Not that that has changed any in the past 40 years !
I think they had a 250, it had a neat plastic case with a hinged lid, and controls, displays, meter and speaker on the front of it. I still have a 150 that I have had for 25 years. The good ol' days of Radio Shack, when they were actually a good source for hobbyists. Now they are not much more than Best Buy wannabees.
Yeah Bill, long time no see - "trying" to stay out of trouble! :) Anyway, you are probably correct. I was "trying" to give them the benefit of doubt. Chemistry sets - eh? Man, my bedroom was a mini lab. If I had now - what I had then - they'd arrest me on suspicion of a Meth Lab or something. Man, I had a telescope, microscope, geology set, chemistry set, jars of formaldehyde (sp?) with specimens in it, and so on. Not to mention the electronics crap I had a ton of. I barely had room for my clothes, bed and other eh - more important stuff. Ya know - looking back - I miss all that........ That was FUN...... Half the so called Chemistry sets and so on now - don't have half the goodies the sets did back then. These new sets are garbage compared to what we used to get. Same with the new project kits. JUNK....... Knowing what we had, maybe there is a reason these kids would be bored. Somewhere, I think I have a couple pictures of my Lab - er - I mean Bedroom.
But why is that? Many kids aren't creative these days. They hang out in front of the TV or some video game but don't actually build stuff. Places like Radio Shack as we knew it from the old days can only survive when people built stuff.
The Radio Shack here in town has closed. It become a cell phone store. Sigh.
Bought one for my daughter about 25 years ago. Though she's been grown and gone for a good while, it's still intact and sitting on the top shelf of her closet (her closet here). Just looked at it - it's a 150 in 1. Radio shack part number is 28-248.
Anyone's interested I'd be happy to scan some or all of the experiment pages and make them available.
And about 5 years ago bought one (used) off ebay for the young fellow a couple of doors over birthday. I think he's still enjoying it. One of his favorites was a rain detector project. Figured out that if he wanted to know if it was raining, all he had to do was put it together, carry it outside, hold it up for a while, and bingo! Knew whether it was raining or not :)
Just for curiousity looked on ebay, searched electronic kit, and the first thing that came up was one :)
That's true, I guess the electronics hobby just isn't as big as it was in the late 70's-early 80's. You would think kids would at least have some curiosity about how the game controllers work, or how to build a power supply to run their GameBoy to save the batteries. Of course, you can buy a power supply for a fraction of what it costs to build one from scratch.
yabbut...remember how cool it was to imagine a little thing that actually worked that you could stick in your pocket and if you punched in about 10 switches you could talk to ANYBODY IN THE WORLD?...and have them deliver a pizza?
Hey, how do you keep 'em on the farm once they've see the city?
I imagine back in the 50s-60s the old farts were grumbling like we are now about having those spoon-fed kits for those (us) unimaginative kids. It all works out in the long run. There's 14-year-old kids with rooms stacked full of old curbside PCs and video cams that would scoff (technologically speaking) at us old guys who were limited to stink bombs and dead salamanders in jars.
They'll be ok...at least some of them will...and thats the way it has always been.
A related question... Does anyone know of a "science project kit" that is actually nicely made with a child in mind (not with just looking flashy to sell at a store display). We bought one recently and I was very disappointed. Thanks
What I remember most about them is the wide variety of different types of kit, and the garbage quality of the circuits in the books. ISTR the components strung between springs type were popular and cheap, I also saw one with square plastic cubes that each contained a part, and they all slotted in next to each other to make circuits. And the Philips ones that were a PCB with components mounted on bolts which screwed to the pcb.
Best thing to do with the spring ones was to rip out the parts, then you got twice as many connection points to use, just string parts between the springs instead of wires. Add some more springs, which is easy enough, and you could start building more serious projects with them, eg radios that worked properly, burger alarms, etc.