Hello and welcome back.

 I recently acquired a copy of the ARRL Handbook from 1969 and had a great time reading about the state of amateur radio in the sixties. The construction projects took me back to a time when point to point wiring and making a PCB board using a Sharpie and some ferric-chloride solution was the way things were done. The sections on vacuum tube theory and the various receiver designs were also great review.

The last section of the book was dedicated to advertisers. The various ads for transmitting tubes, antennas, transceivers, and electronic components made me think of how electronics companies have changed the way they have marketed to hobbyists over the years. Amateur radio was really the focal point for a majority of electronic hobby construction up until the seventies where the microcomputer market began to create a surge in hobby building. By the time the nineties came along, other interests such as robotics, RC models, audio and musical instrument projects, and one of my personal favorites; home automation were adding to the demand for components in small quantities for the hobbyist. Although there was always Radio Shack and other surplus mail-order outlets (a company called Jameco springs to mind), the market was responding with increased availability of more complex and specialized components, project kits, and evaluation boards that a hobby builder could order from a major producer (i.e. Analog Devices, Intel, Motorola, etc.).

Like all disruptive technologies, when e-commerce came into the picture in the mid-late nineties, it turned just about anyone who had a mild interest in electronics into a hobbyist. Now, other emerging technologies are being partially driven by the hobby market. Projects related to 3D printing, drones, Arduino, artificial intelligence, are adding to the already existing DIY scene.





Logo and advertisement scans used by permission of ARRL