Born Too Late?

On the Glowbugs mailing list—a mailing list devoted to the discussion of vacuum tubes and tube circuits—Jason, W6IEE, lamented:

Having worked the better part of this year as an electronics technician for a not-so-great (and not-so-great-paying) little company who makes mostly LCD, but some CRT displays for flight simulator systems… I think I can finally say I think I fully understand how an analog TV set works from end to end.

With that (on-the-surface-worthless and obsolete) knowledge, its too bad its not 1963 or somesuch. I could have been my own boss, have my own (rather successful) storefront TV-repair business, with some sort of funky delivery vehicle with the company logo on the side. Probably back then, such a business would bankroll a nice house up on a hill somewhere, along with some pretty nice vacations.

Think of all the replacement parts you could order, tubes, and even transformers! All the stuff we have to scrounge for under the swap meet tables. Think of how much extra dough one could make on the side selling sweep-tube linears to the 11m crowd out the back door! ;)

Now we just trash our Chinese consumer electronics when they fail, any business based on repairing any sort of consumer device is just a losing proposition… sigh. (even fixing computers today is a lose-lose, IMHO.)

There was a 32″ monster CRT TV out by the dumpster in the alley today, I grabbed it and I hope it doesnt work, so one of these days that I have off this week, I hope to be able to identify the fault that sent it to the alley, just to prove to myself I could have done the job (and done so well) back in the day. Hey, at the very least, its got a few good parts in there…

Win the lottery, then open up a shop that fixes rich people’s old guitar amps, I guess thats as close as we can get today.

Dave, W9OCM, repllied:

I, too, think of this every so often when I am reading some of my old ’50s and ’60s radio-tv service magazines. It’s an era we’ll nevber see again…kind of similiar to the young people today who’ll never get to work in the old service station down at the corner. [SIGH!]

My take on this is that every time has its challenges and its opportunities. The other day I was looking at an early wireless magazine on the Net. It must have been from the 1920s or even earlier. It included ads for telegraphy schools and help-wanted ads for telegraphers. I thought to myself, “Man, that would have been cool to make my living as a telegrapher.”

Then, I got to thinking about my current employment situation. I’m a self-employed website developer. I mostly do PHP coding for database-driven websites. I work from home and probably make more money than the typical telegrapher or TV repairman did back in the day. There’s no way I could have done this in the 1920s or the 1950s.

So, maybe I wasn’t born too late after all. :)


  1. So true. I’m in almost the same situation as you, except that the websites I make a living from belong to me.

    If I had been what I dreamt of doing when I left school – a broadcast engineer installing and maintaining short wave transmitters all over the world – I’d probably be out of work or at least a lot poorer than I am now.

  2. David Brodbeck N8SRE says:

    When I fall into that line of thinking, I start wondering what people are doing today that they’ll look back on that way in a few decades. I suppose the 1970s-1980s equivalent of opening an independent TV shop was founding your own computer company in a garage — another era we won’t see again. I wonder what it is now?

  3. Brad, WA5PSA says:

    My son, who lives with me and is going to college, is making a decent living repairing computers out of our home. An ad on Craigslist and he’s got all the business he can handle. He makes much more per hour than he would make working at the 7-11; BUT…he couldn’t support a family on it.

Speak Your Mind