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.
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 led 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.)
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.
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
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.)
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.
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.