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Old 21st Jul 2021, 12:07 pm   #1
electronicskip
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Default (The trade). Golden years?

Spurred on by the recent trade thread, im wondering what the forum members consider the "Golden years" of the trade would be for each individual?

For me it would be the Late 70s to the late 80s early 90s because that was when i was in the trade so too speak .

The amount of new innovative products introduced when i was involved seemed to be endless with the event of VCRs/ Camcorders ,affordable Hi fi Satellite TV , Computers, Food processors, advanced Automatic washing machines , even CB Radios the list could go on for ever , not to mention TV/Video Rentals and Electrical shops in every town and sometimes even villages.

What would be your golden years? and why?
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 1:20 pm   #2
G6Tanuki
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Default Re: (The trade)Golden years.?

I agree - the 80s and 90s. Computers were being networked [I started doing a lot of X.25 and SNA back then - including arranging 56Kbit/sec transatlantic circuits for some of my clients! That was really leading-edge then and got me several first-class trips to visit 30 Hudson Street NY] - email and uucp and Usenet newsgroups and suchlike gave us easy access to the world.

Then came TCP/IP on simpler stuff like desktop-PCs; and everything ramped-up by an order of magnitude: a licence to print money when you could sell a support-package for a Cisco router for £50K/year and 30% of thta was pure profit! We got-rid of old BT analog leased-lines and faster digital circuits [E1/T1 and then metro-Ethernet] and reliability soared.

Also the 80s and 80s were the heyday of two-way mobile radio: again I made quite a bit of money on that, using Tait and Motorola and Pye/Simoco stuff, with both business and Government clients. Data-over-radio was becoming a bit of a thing too, as was digital-voice.

[The coming of cellphones wiped-out the mobile radio business in less than a decade]

I liked the 80s and 90s: easy money, loads of work, cheap petrol! The fun times.
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 1:38 pm   #3
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Default Re: (The trade)Golden years.?

For me it must be the 50/60’s. Serving my 5 year apprenticeship and then the following being introduced, ( not in order), transistors, pcbs, stereo records and broadcasts, itv, colour tv, etc.
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 1:44 pm   #4
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Default Re: (The trade)Golden years.?

I'm going to say 80s as well - for the most part electronics were still made with widely available discrete human - handleable devices and standard building-block ICs and even microprocessor systems were mostly still made with separate processor / EPROM / RAM / I/O ICs. ICs of course were all DIP and often fitted in sockets, so it only took a moment to verify a suspected faulty IC.

In addition to this, availability of service information / circuit diagrams / service manuals, many excellent with really detailed circuit descriptions, was still widespread and normal and the high initial price of things like video recorders made them worth getting fixed if they went wrong, which was good for those in the business of repairing them.

For another generation (including a great many here) the valve era - relatively simple circuits made with man sized components, valves which could easily be changed, and again wide availability of parts and information must be their golden age, but I did not live through that era. I remember valve based equipment in our home but by the time I became interested in electronics myself, transistors, Germanium at first, were the leading edge in consumer and hobby electronics.
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 1:47 pm   #5
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Default Re: (The trade)Golden years.?

For me in the R&TV servicing trade the 60's, 70's and part way into the 80's, after then I considered that things were going to go t*ts up so far as pay/job security went.

Lawrence.
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 1:47 pm   #6
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Default Re: (The trade)Golden years.?

I was not 'in the trade' at any time. So my view is 'outside looking in', impartial I hope. I'd say it was the mid to late 60s. Trannie radios and record players selling like hotcakes and the emergence of BBC2 and colour WRT teles.
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 2:34 pm   #7
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Default Re: (The trade)Golden years.?

I started in the trade in 1973 but I think the really good days were before that. Early 60's you had the boom in transistor radio's, mid 60's you had the change to 625 lines and UHF meaning lots of dual-standard sets not just for repairs but for sales as well. Then a couple of years later, the move to colour TV...more training and more repairs which probably carried on through the early 70's. Mid 70's saw the start of Teletext and slightly later, the first domestic VCR's from Philips. There was an awful lot going on throughout those ten years. During the early 80's there was the VCR boom.....everybody wanted one although they were quite expensive but it meant more training and more repairs. I think the decline started in the 90's when most of the current technology had 'matured' and manufacturers were finding cheaper was of doing things.
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 4:07 pm   #8
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

Same as the early 80s VCRs , Microwave ovens were a new innovation ,came to UK in the early 80s ,another invention which spawned a whole new field of specialised service centres and engineers,although microwave ovens had been around a long time before they came to the UK.
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 4:42 pm   #9
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

A ‘trade’ that I used to be in was college/university teaching. The ‘60s and early ‘70s were a most exciting period of syllabus transition from valves to transistors and ICs. In an era where much teaching focused on valves, I had the glorious opportunity to set up a brand new electronics teaching laboratory at UMIST where the previous style (doubtless innovative in its day) had presented the student with a rather boring VR65 pentode already mounted on pattress board with the connections brought out to screw terminals which the student then connected to an Advance H1 oscillator and Telequipment ‘scope in order to follow the printed instructions and get home as early as possible in the afternoon with a scribbled set of results to write up later.

Transistors and ICs changed all that. Students were at last able to learn to solder and quickly build circuits on tagboards and Veroboard - proper electronics, where they could try out ideas, sometimes learning by burning out components as they went. Fortunately there was then no bureaucratic requirement for fume extraction - the first thing I learned is that 40 students all soldering does create quite a fug in the lab!

Instead of there being a race to escape from the lab ASAP, students tended to get so absorbed that the steward often had to eject them at locking up time. I think that, thanks to transistors facilitating circuit building, they enjoyed it. Hopefully they learned some stuff as well from time to time.

Golden years indeed.

Martin
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 6:59 pm   #10
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

An outsider looking in but I knew many household electronics/TV repairmen in the 1970s & 80s. This period seemed to be a busy time for them. It had been suggested at school that I should consider the trade but I went another way. Despite the economic turmoil of the era, the late 70s seemed to be boom time with new products coming along all the while. Items were repairable and there always seemed plenty of work. Some guys built up quite lucrative rental businesses. By the mid 1980s change was in the air and the smart ones were getting out. By the early 2000s I only knew one guy still trying to eke a living out of repairs and he wasn’t long in giving up.

In a competely different trade but my best working days were in the 1980s when my industry was still analogue. If you knew what you were doing there was plenty of work and reasonable remuneration. It had its pressures but it was enjoyable and you were respected for your abilities. I was an early adopter when the computers started to arrive but digital removed a lot of highly skilled people and changed the attitudes both in the trade and of the customers/clients. I soon missed the old community and its characters and the race to the bottom started.
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 7:22 pm   #11
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

I, like many of you here, started in the 60's.. 1963 to be exact..where there were still lots of post war TV's and radio's to keep going, to the first Colour TV's.. in my case a Decca CTV28 in 1969. Domestic TV repair was in its zenith, The City and Guilds course was the E48, 5 years of day release, it was a brilliant course.. until it got "mucked about with" as it was shortened and an Electronics "off shoot" added.
I left the TV trade in 1970, to be a technician at Bradford University, in the Physics dept, looking after lab equipment and making teaching equipment for the new school of Archaeology.
7 years later I was back in the "telly" business, making TV's in Bradford for NEI....and have stayed.. more or less till my retirement 8 years ago.
So.. the best time.. for me was.. learning my trade in the 60's. In each decade though there were many interesting times...so to pick one,would be so difficult objectively.
The "kids" of today..... : blah:
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Old 21st Jul 2021, 8:19 pm   #12
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

Martins post ( Hartley118) really rings true to me, in particular studying Transistors for the very first time in Technical College and the Lab experiments we had to carry out, and not forgetting thermal runaway when many of the first transistor radios faded out on the beach in the summer time.
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 9:34 am   #13
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

My feelings on this match Sideband's almost exactly. Started in the trade in '73, best years upto 1990. Saw round after round of redundancies each year from then. Camcorders gave a short lived burst, Smartphones etc killed all that off. Even Steve Beeching gave up, and I believe is printing T-shirts!

In essence it's only when the product is new, expensive, unreliable, and difficult to repair are you going to make real money. So for me, the 70's and 80' were the best years, but those senior to me often say the 50's and 60's were the best of all.

SJM.
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 10:39 am   #14
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

I remember in the early 70's coming to the end of secondary school and into the hands of the careers department. They told me that with colour, theTV repair course took 6 years to qualification. A degree looked easier, and probably was. The careers lot seemed rather fixated on whether my colour vision was good enough. In the junior school we all got tested. We weren't told a thing about what it was or what it was for. They just plopped a thing in front of me and asked me which number I could see. I didn't bother with all the coloured dots, there was a nice clear number printed bottom left, a PROPER number so I read them that.... "No no, just the first number you see" so I read them the first digit of what must have been the serial number of each successive page they showed me. I now know what it was and what went wrong. They failed to explain that there were numbers hidden in the dots, they failed to be suspicious that I never hesitated. So there is a paper record somewhere in my educational history saying I'm totally colourblind. The careers lot knew perfect colour vision was essential to fixing TVs, and also that good colour vision was needed for all the coloured wires in electronics.... and that was as much as they knew!

Oddly enough there was plenty of colour TV in the degree and I designed a PAL colour synthesiser as a project.

David
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 11:31 am   #15
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

I guess these answers are all going to be personal and individual!

I started full time in 1989 (purely repair workshop, no sales) so consumer repairs were usually to stuff made in the 80's or very occasionally 70's, not including odd repairs like juke box amplifiers or valve radios brought in for sentimental reasons. We did a good trade in industrial monitor repairs by Microvitec, Philips, Barco and Conrac, and dumb terminal 'screens' from Wyse, Fujitsu and Zenith. Christmastime brought in strings of fairy lights for repair (imagine that now!!).

Spares availability was plentiful with all the familiar suppliers very much in business and manufacturers all with UK offices who could help out. Service manuals or diagrams by post or sometimes (thanks Sanyo UK) by fax.

Television magazine still carried plentiful ads for surplus parts from Sendz, Bull Electrical etc, as well as spare pcbs from discontinued tv chassis, you could buy anything from a 1kg tin of heatsink compound to a roll of guided missile wire (remember that!!??).

I'm too young to comment on the trade in the 70's and by the early 2000's it was beginning to fizzle out, so my golden time was the 1990's. Radio 1 played continuously on the workshop radio, when Stock Aitken Waterman ruled the charts and Steve Wright and Simon Mayo played the records. The boss's desk emitting the odd BANG or swear word as the lights went out and he wafted smoke away from whatever he'd blown up, us engineers sniggering quietly. The workshop (and us) reeking of tobacco smoke as we had a chain smoker in the room.
Salad days !
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 11:45 am   #16
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

Hi David,
Nothing as subtle as an Ishihara Test at Granada Rentals.
When we went to the training department at Amthill Rd in Bedford to do our colour induction, there was a Thorn 2000 high on a wall bracket witch was wired back to the lectern and the teacher could demonstrate all sorts of faults.
The first thing he did was to put each primary and complimentary colour on the screen one by one and we had to write down what we saw. I'm pretty sure that anyone who failed got their P45.
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 2:08 pm   #17
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

Quote:
Originally Posted by McMurdo View Post
Radio 1 played continuously on the workshop radio, when Stock Aitken Waterman ruled the charts and Steve Wright and Simon Mayo played the records.
Ah, yes. I worked on-site a lot in those days. A clause got written into the contract about ‘difficult working conditions’.

I remember one chap only stuck it until lunchtime announcing that he was taking the work away and any queries could be handled by phone.
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 2:48 pm   #18
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

I only had to take a proper colour test twice both whilst seeking employment with Plymouth Dockyard and a few weeks later with Cable and Wireless in 1975.

They took the form of numbers hidden within the patterns of irregular blobs of colour.

The first 10 or so were primary colours and easy to spot but as the cards went on the colour changes became more and more subtle.

ISTR you had to score over 95 out of 100 cards.

The 70's were indeed golden years for opportunities I went to a dozen interviews as well as the above including Mullard and NCR in Southampton, Texas Instruments and Bush in Plymouth and of Course Plessey Avionics and Communication in West Leigh Hampshire (where I ended up).
I was unable to get any opportunities in the Radio and TV trade in East Cornwall. The Liskeard area was awash with Radio and TV sales and repair companies and sole traders all fighting over an already shrinking market or so it seemed. I had even worked for a couple of them Saturday jobs some 3 years earlier.

My hit rate was pretty good only one non offer (Bush, overqualified apparently for the role on offer).

Then Moved to Plessey controls as a Field Service Engineer in 1978 the freedom was immense but I now look back on it and wonder how I survived

So to me the 70's and the 80's when I started my overseas career first Port Elizabeth SA, then Hong Kong were the most exciting times for a young FS guy with the world before him.

Cheers

Mike T
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 4:59 pm   #19
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

hi talking of color blindness someone who i worked with Andy in the early 70s couldnt tell a 470k from a 4.7k etc could not see any diffrence between red, orange ,brown or yellow they all looked like red a total nightmare but a nice guy Mick
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Old 23rd Jul 2021, 5:40 pm   #20
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Default Re: (The trade). Golden years?

I don’t want to go off subject, but I understand Colour Perception is the correct term, with grading 1 to 5.
John
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