August 1958 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
The Radio Boys
I own a few of these books (not expensive)
and highly recommend them - even to adults.
This photo from an article entitled, "Exploring Electronics with Simple Projects,"
which appeared in a 1958 issue of Popular Electronics magazine, made me
think of "The Radio Boys" series of books written in the 1920s. A shorter
series entitled "The Radio Girls" appeared as well. Both titles
told tales of a group of youngsters who were caught up in the "wireless" craze of
the era. They built their first receivers entirely from homemade parts, including
winding the tuning coil and fashioning a moveable tap on the coil. Motivated by
more knowledgeable adults - of which there were few in the day - the kids progressed
on to single-tube sets and then, after earning their licenses, built and operated
transmitters. Today such do-it-yourselfers are called "Makers,"
and there is an entire industry and culture built around it. Much ado was caused
the first time their receivers picked up a station broadcasting a concert, a comedy
show, a news report, and other live shows (everything was live then). You might
be inclined to believe that with so much technology being available in every facet
of society that the "magic" of discovery is gone, but all you need is to see the
reaction by people who have just had their first success at a new endeavor to know
the magical aspect is still alive.
Exploring Electronics with Simple Projects
Here is a way of presenting the subject of electronics
to junior-high students in a manner that captures their imagination and provides
a stimulus for future work in high school. Marvin Grossman had the idea, and brought
it to Bradford Washburn, Director of Boston's Museum of Science. The result is "Exploring
Electronics " - a popular Saturday afternoon course held at the Museum with Grossman
Grossman holds an electrical engineering degree from M.I.T. and is now a sales
manager with H. H. Scott. He has been amazed to find almost 100% attendance at every
one of his classes. His eager young students (26 of them) wouldn't think of missing
a session, even when the fish are biting or the fans are filling the bleachers.
"You can't talk theory very long to boys and girls in this age group," says Grossman,
"so immediately after we discuss a principle, we try it out by building something.
"Our first project was a simple four-part crystal set. Each youngster wound his
own coil so he would get the feel of the hardware. At the end of the second session,
the youngsters took their sets home and tried different ways of hooking them up
to hear better ... The next step was a vacuum-tube amplifier."
Radio parts were provided by companies in the electronics industry, printed materials
by various publishing houses. Popular Electronics participated by providing ideas
and details for several electronic projects. On completion of the course, the students
know how to work with basic electronic components, read circuit diagrams and construct
their own equipment.
The avid response of the youngsters and the eagerness of so many others to join
"Exploring Electronics" would seem to indicate that there is no lack of interest
in science among early teenagers.
Posted October 17, 2019