I was tasked recently with cleaning out the storage room of our Bedford, Mass., office. My first thought was to throw it all away, but I thought better of that approach. I decided to see what was in those heavy boxes I had been neglecting for the past few years.
I was surprised and pleased by what I found. The history of Design News -- at least the part dating back to the mid-1950s -- was just sitting there collecting dust. I pulled the back issues out and started flipping through them. Here are some products I found in the August 1958 issue. I hope you have as much fun looking at them as I did.
Click the image below to start the slideshow.
From Zierick Mfg. Corp. of New Rochelle, NY: Seven new lock washer terminals are manufactured from 0.018-inch brass or phosphor bronze, hot tinned, with No. 4, 6, and 8 holes. Sample kits of a complete set of lock washer terminals are available on request.
Jenn, this is very interesting. I was just born about the timeframe you are looking at. When I was young, about ten years later, I used to avidly read trade journals my father would bring home. I still remember some of the advertising slogans.
I was espacially impressed by the number of companies mentioned from Illinois (where I am now) and Ohio. We have lost a lot of that manufacturing and it is not good.
The manufacturing is coming back in the form of custom creations in people's garages. About a year and a half ago, I spoke with a teenager in 4H. We were both training to be shooting sports instructors for the state. This young man had a complete Bio-Diesel process set up next to his parent's barn. He claimed to be making Bio-Diesel for a pre-tax cost of under $2.00 a gallon.
Listening to him discuss this, I had no reason to doubt it. There are some things that I don't think scale up well. For one thing, he didn't account for his own time costs very well, nor did he account for land cost. But even so, he was definitely on a very interesting path.
He's not alone. People are scaling downward and redesigning industrial processes to something that can be adjusted on a custom scale. We are re-growing our industry in a manner where flexibility is a major capability, and regulation is not much of a consideration.
These little pictures remind me of how many small components we need for everyday stuff that could easily be fabricated by someone in a garage...
Like you, I grew up reading my dad's hand-me-down trade magazines, mostly Design News. Among other things I remember were all the small ads from what appeared to be one-product companies located in California. Of course there were plenty from New Jersey, and Illinois, but to day it's hard to even imagine Los Angeles as a manufacturing center. Even auto body shops have been forced out of Los Angeles by pollution regulatins.
A rope wrap manual starter. Love it. Used to mow, always had the rope tied on the handle of the push mower. Then got a lawnboy, with recoil starter, it even was self propelled. I thought I was in tall cotton. Ended up not using it much, because it was too slow. Mowing up to 3 acre yards with a push mower, sure I wanted a rider, but almost no one had them
It sure is interesting to me to look at some of those old things, and wonder, What Were They Thinking? Or, as often as not, Damn, That Was Clever. My antique radio and TV hobby often has me studying old circuits and their 60-year-old physical incarnations wtih the same mixture of awe and derision. We do SO much better nowadays in efficiently manufacturing some things (or at least we CAN do much better), but it's still amazing to see what engineers did back in the slide rule and pencil days.
Fantastic slideshow, Jenn. The only company name that I know is still around is Kohler (others may still be inexistence, but I didn't recognize the names). I wonder if readers know about any of the others. And, yes, CCarpenter, I think an occasional "Where is this company now?" feature would be an interesting idea.
Charles, At least one of those companies, Tinnerman, is still alive and I hope doing well. They produce just about every kind of push-on cmechanical onnection thing that can be immagined, and about 78 models that are hard to imagine. I used one of their parts in the angle transducer that I designed that had to live through repeated 50g impacts.
Actually I did recognise most of the names, except for that big fan company.
I thought that was most interesting was the general nature of the items, which is a bit different from what gets front billing today.
MOST of these companies are still around in one form or other! I was in junior high school in 1958 (and had my ham license by then), and ABSOLUTELY have several of these products in my basement (including all of the varieties of the solder lugs in Slide 1, in one drawer of one of my Akro-Mills cabinets). Not sure if Walsco is still around; I bought many of their general HW items in little plastic boxes. Despite the "Manufacturing Company" in their name, I suspect they just packaged small quantities of products from OEM suppliers for the hobbyist/service technician market. At that time, my tastes in reading material included Popular Electronics, Popular Mechanics, QST, CQ, Radio-electronics, and Radio & TV News (later became Electronics World). I didn't discover the real "trade press" of Engineering until college (1961), when I started working in the industry to pay for my education.
Very interesting post Jennifer. My wife knows I'm really not a hoarder but I do have several "items" that I feel are definitely "keepers". My first computer; Commodore 64, my first hand-held calculator; HP 35, my first 8-track tape and tape recorder; Maxell, etc. You get the picture. I knew I was old when we visited the "Museum of American History" in Cincinnati and all of my "collectables" were prominently displayed. Did I ever hear it over that one? Again--great post.
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