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Electricity and electronics in my life

One of my first memories with respect to electricity, is the facination with a blinking light attached to some toy that a boy brought with him to kindergarten. I must have been five years old. I was facinated with it because I could not understand how it could blink all by itself. At that time I already knew you had to make a circuit with a battery, a switch and a light. It was only many years later, that I realized that the little light had a bi-metal in it, which when heated by the light, switched it off.

Electric experimentation kit

This was some kit, which contained various electrical experiments starting with simple switching circuits, from electrical magnets till a working electrical motor. You had to wind the coils all by yourself.

Taking apart old televisions

It must be around the same time, that I got an interest in electronical devices. Up in the attic we had some place where my father made some attempts for making miniature trains. My uncle and his son were very succesful with doing this, but my father never found the time or the energy to finish his. The place became our electronic junk yard. For many years there were always some broken radios or televisions lying around this area being taken apart for their components, which might become useful in the future. I had a whole collection of radio tubes. I cannot remember every having done something useful with any of these components. I continued with taking apart television until I was about fifteen.

EE1050 & EE1052

When I was in sixth or seventh grade, my parents bought for me the Philips Electronic Engineering kits EE1050. I remember showing some of the electronic experiments in the class room.

Later on, we also bought the EE1052, an extension kit with which you could build a radio receiver. I cannot remember that I every succeded in building a working radio from it. I do remember that I made many attempts afterwards, with components which I bought in a little shop in Utrecht, but also that these experiments never lead to any working radio receiver, how much I did my best.

Building a five-by-five display

I was already facinated with displays, and one time, I spend a great part of my pocket money to buy 25 little lights (with lense) in order to build a five-by-five array of lights. I was already dreaming how with switches, I could make all kinds of interesting patterns, but after I had put the whole thing together, it didn't work at all as I had precieved. It was much later that I realized that I should have used diodes for each of the individual lights. I did have a lot of fun, building all kinds of lights in my bedroom in the years that followed. I remembered that at one point I had build a display of the radio tubes, which was lighted from the other side of the room by one of these lights in combination with some big lense my father had brought home one time.

A digital watch

On June 24, 1977, when I was in highschool, I bought such a digital watch with these little red LEDs and magnification glasses. It was rather expensive, but I was very proud of it. For some time I would write all digits as they were displayed on the seven-segment displays. (See for example the first page of my diary.)

Digital electronics

I remember building some counter and a decoder with a seven-segment display. I remember that I was rather disappointed when the thing didn't want to count properly, but instead displayed random numbers. It was only much later that realized that a simply touching a contact with a wire was generating many spikes.

Voice distortion

I vaguely remember making some device (from a kit) for voice distortion and taking it with me (or dreaming about this) to the Evulon (a technics museum by Philips) to try it out on an instrument displaying a freqency spectrum of sounds spoken into a microphone. But I also have some memory that they whole thing never worked properly.

A pocket calculator

I also remember the first pocket calculators with the same time of LED displays. I remember drawing schematics to make some kind of computer with a pocket calculator. It never did result in anything. (I bought my second calculator on February 6, 1976 according to my diary.)

A synthersizer

For some time, I also had plans to build an organ or a synthersizer. When I was around fifteen years old, I spend some time designing my own synthersizer, but the project never took-off.

Losing interest

Finally, I lost interest in electronics, because it seemed that I was not very successful in making working devices, and was hoping that I would have more success with computers. Which I did.