Surfin’: When Digital Was Cool
By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
This week, Surfin’ recalls the coolness of a technology that we now take for granted.
On a recent visit to the website of regular Surfin’ suggester Woody Woodward, K3VSA, an image of a Kenwood TS-520S transceiver brought back memories of the first time I noticed it advertised in QST, circa 1971.
While window shopping for a new radio back then, the TS-520S caught my eye; not the radio so much as the digital frequency readout display unit sitting on top of the 520 in that QST advertisement. I had never seen a digital readout on a ham radio before and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Owning it would make me a real space cadet!
Since I was still in school at the time, my radio budget was very tight. When I phoned the advertiser about the 520, I got the bad news: The digital display unit was optional -- it was not included in the price.
I could barely afford the 520, much less a $100 option, so I bought the 520 without the digital display and delayed my entry into the space cadet corps.
Luckily, I did not have to wait long, as this was about the time that digital clock kits arrived on the scene. The back pages of all the ham magazines had thumbnail ads for such kits. They were very affordable and I probably paid $5 for a kit, which in today’s dollars is about $27 (and jives with the price of the current ARRL digital clock kit). That digital clock kit was so affordable that I even sprung for the optional simulated mahogany cabinet. After a few hours of soldering and assembling the kit, I connected the digital clock to ac and my ham shack entered the space age.
Until next time, keep on surfin’!