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duderduderini 23rd December 2008 09:43 PM

What was the diy world like before the internet?
After having posted to the latest Pete Millett post I wondered (and Often have) what did the diy world do before the internet? I would have no way been able to advance to the point I have with amp building without the resource that is the internet.
So other than Glass Audio etc how was it done?

Tubelab_com 23rd December 2008 10:09 PM

I learned audio, tubes, and electronics in general way before the internet was dreamed of. In fact computers took up a whole building........

There were several DIY general interest magazines that have dissapeared, Radio - Electronics, Popular Electronics, Electronics Illustrated, and more that I can't remember. There were ham radio magazines, which still exist, 73 and QST. All had construction articles. I built many. Heathkit assembly manuals were also a good source of info. So were the ARRL handbooks and even tube manuals.

I used to hang out at the Lafayette Radio Electronics store, and even the local TV repair shop to suck up information (like a chat room or a forum) and bring home discarded electronics. I used to collect old TV's and radios to take them apart. After a while, I even learned how to put them back together. Tube electronics could be obtained for free just about everywhere. Once a month a neighbor (who was into wood working) would clean up his shop and take the discards to the trash dump. I always volunteered, and never came home empty handed! There were two TV repair shops within bicycle distance from my house. I visited their trash cans twice a week. Most of the discarded tubes still had life in them.

We had a 3 year vocational electronics program in High School that taught tubes. That is where I learned how to "make em glow". Sadly these programs have all been killed off because they are too expensive.

I must admit that it is far easier to find info today than it ever was. There is still no substitute for practical experience. Now if only there was still that never ending supply of old tube radios and TV sets........

Cal Weldon 23rd December 2008 10:21 PM


Originally posted by

I used to hang out at the Lafayette Radio Electronics store, and even the local TV repair shop to suck up information

Yup, Radio Shack, the local stereo shop (remember when we called them stereos?) and the not so local speaker component supplier in the big city.

cabe_bedlam 23rd December 2008 11:14 PM

Full of bookshelves groaning under Readers Digest Compendiums and copies of Elektor.

Fuling 23rd December 2008 11:26 PM

Im only 29 but when I started building stuff at age 12 it was quite hard to find components. I guess the internet existed in some form back then but I didnt have access to it.

Conrad Hoffman 23rd December 2008 11:48 PM

The percentage of people actually building anything anymore is probably very small. Pre-net would have been when I was in high school and college. In high school we had an active electronics program, with a ham radio station, and lots of free parts from local supporting companies. In college it was probably the peak of hi-fi. Everybody was frequenting the local dealers for what's now "vintage" equipment, and many engineering students were building their own amps and even tuners from scratch. I built Heathkit, Ace Audio, Dyanco and SWTP audio equipment. There were no distracting computers, cell phones and pagers, nor did many people waste time playing video games- you had to go to a place that had them, and pay!

IMO, learning electronics was both harder and easier. Today you can get the basics off the net, with pretty good material on most topics. OTOH, the depth isn't there. Nothing will replace the classic textbooks like Barnstead, Terman, Stout, Timbie & Bush and a lot of very good factory literature from the parts makers. Good technical books were available until recently, dirt cheap. Lately the prices have been rising at a steep rate, unless you find something for a few bucks locally.

Before the net, there was a lot of myth and bad information around. Now, myth and bad information are just a keystroke away. :devilr:

scott wurcer 23rd December 2008 11:51 PM

The popular mags were full of adds for old IBM boards that you could de-populate and experiment away.

duderduderini 24th December 2008 12:06 AM

I wish I got into tubes earlier
Until I heard my first valve amp, I never truly enjoyed my stereo. 5 years ago I loaned an amp from a patient that he built and I bought it and it has been a very uphill learning curve since then. Without this forum in particular I would have "No Idea" of what to do. What is humbling to me is to see the big hitter names that I recognise that freely contribute selflessly right here.
Instead of chasing girls at university in the 80's, I wish I had discovered tubes and got into it whichever way possible.

rdf 24th December 2008 12:17 AM

Kits and magazines. Southwest Tech amps, Hafler. My first project was a Hafler DH101. The Jung/Marsh 'Picking Caps' article was the ruin of many store-bought pieces. Twenty years+ ago was also the heyday of DIY computers in a truer sense of the word, drawing much of the attention away from audio for a generation.

TonyTecson 24th December 2008 01:35 AM

most of my electronics education came from reading books at the library, and magazines like popular electronics, electronics wold, audio, etc.....

but i learned more in 3 years with than from more than 30 years of trying to learn elswhere....:D

Merry Christmass to all!!!!!:D

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