Heathkit Now Selling Doorbells!

About a week ago, I was in Lowe’s looking at doorbell switches.  They had several reasonably priced switches, most marked with the Heath-Zenith brand name. That sounds familiar, I thought. The logo looked familiar, too.

Well, I finally got around to looking at the HeathCo website, and found this on the history page:

The History of HeathCo

Originating from the Heath Company, best known for designing and marketing electronic kits and controls to the early do-it-yourself market, HeathCo’s foundation is built from over 100 years of finding and applying innovation to develop new products. In the 1980’s, as part of the Zenith Electronics Corporation, Heath began marketing products under the brand name of Heath/Zenith. These two great American brands were both established by offering quality products that are innovative and easy to use.

Since the late 1980’s, intelligent lighting, door chimes, and wireless lighting controls have been the product categories of focus. Today, under the Heath/Zenith brand we offer a broad selection of specialty electrical products built to meet the needs of today’s consumer. Our products are designed to complement any decor and install with ease for even the most inexperienced do-it-yourselfer.

HeathCo LLC is a subsidiary of Duchossois Industries, Inc., a privately owned, diversified, multinational holding company, headquartered in Elmhurst, Illinois.

How do you like that?

First Article on Transistors?

Google recently digitized all of the back issues of Popular Science. In the September 1948 issue, they ran an article on the new electronic device the transistor. This could be the first article in a commercial publication on the transistor.

Here are a couple of quotes:

  • “The device that may start a revolution in electronics is smaller than a paper match.”
  • “Whether transistors will ever replace the vacuum tubes in your home radio will probably depend most on how much it costs to make them.

Now, of course, transistors are on the order of microns, and in integrated circuits cost a small fraction of a penny. And all this happened in about sixty years.

National Electronics Museum Includes Ham Radio Station

From the 12/9/09 issue of IEEE-USA’s Today’s Engineer

Electronic Marvels on Display at National Electronics Museum

By George F. McClure

A valuable, but little known, resource tracing the development of electronics for defense, space, and other applications is located near the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the BWI Rail station.

The National Electronics Museum (NEM), renamed in 2009 from the Historical Electronics Museum, is a treasure trove of radar, sonar and other electronic technology, with an emphasis on phased array antennas and countermeasures. It also operates an annual two-day Pioneer Camp program for school children between the ages of 8 and 11 to help them appreciate the role electronics plays in our lives.

There is a complete amateur radio station, K3NEM/W3GR, fully equipped with vintage and modern communications systems. A temporary exhibit last year, called “Hallicrafters and Heathkit – the H in Ham Radio,” chronicled the history of these two companies and their contributions to amateur radio.

Read the complete story.

Slideshow: The History of Radio in Pictures

From the 11/5/09 IEEE Tech Alert:

The American Museum of Radio and Electricity, located in Bellingham, Wash., contains a unique collection of interactive galleries and artifacts. The museum shares photographs from their new book, Where Discovery Sparks Imagination: A Pictorial History of Radio and Electricity. View photos of a rare multibulb Geissler tube, a Volta canon, a combination Oudin/Tesla coil, and many more antique electronics.

View now


The translucent beauty of the ones in the Atwater Kent Number 4333 “Compact” Receiver is so great as to render its functionality almost superfluous—which is a good thing. Shortly after this device was introduced in September 1923, the range of U.S. broadcast frequencies was expanded, rendering it almost useless. Today the 4333 is highly prized by vintage radio collectors.

Yet Another Heathkit Site

I have just discovered Bill Wilkerson’s Heath Company website. The table of contents reads:

  • Introduction
  • History
  • Other Heathkit Sites
  • People
  • Related Publications
  • Usenet Newsgroups
  • Troubleshooting and Repair
    • Fixing It Yourself
    • Sales and Service

One of the cooler things on the site is this collection of stories about Heathkit by employees and suppliers.