The Great Divides in Electronics (and lesser ones too)

October 27, 2016 | 00:00
Although here at Elektor we like to think otherwise, electronics magazines of the hobby variety cannot be said to have any slowing-down effects on major changes in electronics technology. I mean major as in “major”, and not the transition of, say, the light bulb to the LED. Changes like:
 
  • Vacuum tube to transistor;
  • Discrete part to integrated circuit (IC);
  • Discrete part and IC to SMD;
  • Just about anything to microcontrollers;
  • Just about any microcontroller into an ARM device;
  • Analog audio to digital;
  • Leadless to unleaded solder.
(no chronological order observed)

Minimal as their impact may have been in the “Great Evolution of e, 1930 – present day”, the hobby magazines traditionally have been a great way to observe the responses to landslides in the way electronics is experienced, designed and “done” in labs, schools and at home.

When the transistor arrived on the hobby scene, tube users said these fragile little things flagged the end of DIY electronics. The same with the introduction the IC and, a little later, the SMD. In 1985 when Elektor magazine published its first SMD background and project article in a single edition, the publishing company experienced two tidal waves from opposite directions; SMD fans and SMD haters. The former crying “more, more” and the latter threatening to cancel their subscription. And Elektor … forced to hire a temp on the central telephone exchange for a week or two to deal with the storm of complaints. The young lady read out a typed script supplied by the then editor in chief stating that “sir, although SMD is the way forward it will take a long time to become commonplace”.

Each of the above changes have had a profound effect including people “freezing” their hobby at the technology they felt comfortable with, and refusing to go with yet another craze announced in the tech news.  Many old technologies were said to “die instantly” but every time the staunch supporters remained and made the obsolete technology resurface many years on, with great success. Like the tube and the vinyl record. And I still used leaded solder. So! Which electronics technology did you:
 
  • mourn at
  • rejoice at

when it made way for something “more advanced? Please respond using the Comments utility below. Your age will not be disclosed :-)
 
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