Boomers and early Gen-Xers will recognize these toys that once appealed to young engineers. Like me, many of you probably owned all of them, and spent countless hours playing with them.
These are the toys that inspired budding engineers to try out sublime designs, create miniature structures, and experiment with bizarre contraptions using sets that could be torn down and reconstructed over and over.
While Mom was OK with the Erector Set and the Lincoln Logs, the pointy Tinkertoy sticks and the model rockets made her nervous. But it was the strange smells and smoke coming off the chemistry set that really gave her the willies. How many of you out there did the full chemistry set whirl of seeing what you could get if you mixed every single chemical together in one frothing stew?
Click on the Heathkit below to start the slideshow. Then, in the comments section, tell us which toys inspired you as a kid.
Heathkits are products of the Heath Company. Its products over the decades have included electronic test equipment, high-fidelity home audio equipment, television receivers, amateur radio equipment, electronic ignition conversion modules for early model cars with point-style ignitions, and the influential hobbyist computers, which were sold in kit form for assembly by the purchaser. (Source: Oldcomputers.net)
@Dave Palmer; I still had that set, and in working order, into the 70's and gave it to a high school student that was interested in the field and was overjoyed to get it. I hope that it was the start of a good carrer for her in nuclear energy. I wish I would have kept her name and followed her carrer.
I do remember that it was only made for a few years, but did not remember that it was only 2. I was really lucky that my parents could see the potential learning experience that it would provide. At the time I wanted to be a Chemical Engineer, but the Radio Shack electronics kit changed me to EE.
@TRCSr: That's amazing that you mention the Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab; I just finished writing an article about that kit, which DesignNews will be running in the next week or so. Very intetested to hear your perspective as one of the few kids who actually got to play with this rare toy (only produced for 2 years).
1. A. C. Gilbert Atomic Energy set. I had several of their chemistry sets and about Feb. of several years I would collect others from kids that got them as Christmas presents and were tired of them already. Anyway, the Atomic Energy set included a cloud chamber, geiger counter, several low-level radiation sources, and several other related items. I did every experiment in the book and then abandoned it as it no longer offered a challange to me, like the multiple chemistry sets did.
2. Radio Shack produced an electronic experiment kit. It included 3 or 4 vacuum tubes, a transformer for a power supply and filament voltage, a buzzer, resistors and capacitors, an assortment of wires, and some other electronic components that I can no longer remember. This kit was my first interest in electronics and was directly responsible for me becoming and electrical engineer. It was a bit dangerous with the high voltage for the B+ and exposed AC line voltage and would not be allowed today because of the potential hazards.
I also had the other mentioned toys; Erector Set, Tinker Toys, electric trains, etc.
Oh I had a mishap or two – I remember rewiring a lamp socket that was still plugged in, and everything was going fine, until my idiot friend flipped-on the wall switch.I was about 10 at the time, and got that first 110V shock.Over the years there were several more to follow with varying degrees of humor.My wife still tells of the story of the Dryer-220 mishap ,,,,, that one actually blew me back, airborne for a little bit. Still funny.Dear God, thanks for saving the idiot that I (was/am).
I used to cut up Christmas lights and rewire them to install lighting in them. No insulation on the splices, it's a wonder I didn't electrocute myself (I was 10 at the time) but I was careful and never had a mishap.
A friend of mine and I used to fill syringes with denatured alcohol, set up a candle in front of a Creeple People troll doll or plastic army man and then flamethrower them by squirting the alcohol through the flame to ignite it.
It was safer than holding a match in front of the aerosol nozzle of bug spray. :-)
Fun with fire. But I used to take the garbage out to be burned on the farm as a kid, so when it came to campfires I was the go to guy to arrange the logs to make a roaring fire.
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