EEVblog #416 – 35 Years Of Test EquipmentPosted on January 30th, 2013 10 comments
Dave takes you on a 35 year journey through the test equipment ads in his collection of Electronics Australia magazines, from 1965 to 2000.
Forum Topic HERE
I couldn’t find a historical GBP or AUD exchange rate for 1965, but according to this site:
in 1965 $1 USD was worth $7.29 USD in 2013 based on CPI (consumer price index); which is a rather simplistic but widely used method of conservatively estimating historical purchasing power.
I couldn’t find a historical purchasing power calculator for GPB or AUD.
So a half-way decent $15 USD multmeter in 1965 will cost you $109.35 USD today – not far off the mark price wise. A 15KHz 1965 $60 oscilloscope today would run you $437. For around that price today you can get a consumer level 100MHz two channel digital storage oscilloscope (e.g., Rigol 1102E perhaps).
But that’s US Dollars – I don’t know what a scope like that shown in the 1965 version of EA would cost in the US at that time.
Of-course, we’re not taking into account the added value of the massive improvement in test equipment capabilities and specifications today.
It would be very interesting if someone can find a link to the 1965 (or other years) USD exchange rate for GBP and/or AUD.
UK GBP retail price “inflation” calculator at
I can’t find a good US/GBP historical one though
LG = formed when Goldstar merged with Lucky to form at the time “Lucky Goldstar” (as LG is sometimes known).
HP Multimeters – still around, and Dave, you have several of them. You know them as “Agilent”. What happened is in the mid-late 90′s, the whole computer and internet thing was taking off. HP decided to split up – test equipment and computers weren’t exactly a good mix of businesses. HP management decided that the public knows the “HP” name better, so they retained it for the consumer electronics, while users of HP test equipment will rapidly reacquaint themselves with a new name, that is, Agilent. You can date equipment easily because of it – since the same thing was sold under both the HP name and the Agilent name (with the same model numbers) during the transition.
I’m somewhat surprised that there wasn’t a bigger announcement of the transition from HP to Agilent.
And the early 2000′s were marked with a very rapid decrease in interest in electronics – everyone was into computers and software – soldering irons and such were for chumps and old folks. It was a very dark time. These days it’s been long revived with Arduinos and everything and electronics is cool again. Probably because everyone wanted in on the dot-com stuff and you got in with software, not hardware.
You actually believe that Dave doesn’t know that Agilent is the former HP test euqipment division?
About the Telequipment D51 dual trace scope: don’t laugh, I learned on these piece of organic fertilizers circa 86-85 at Sherbrooke U. in the electronic and physics labs of the physics dept.
Later, they got us shiny new 60MHz Hitachi that were working flawlessly, trigged on a signal hair, but not baseball bat of a noise, etc. We were in heaven.
And in the end, I think we learned more with those beaten-to-death glorified graphic toasters than the newer generation of students which never had to figure out, during their lab period, if the problem were from the circuit or instrumental in nature.
Half the contactors were so dirty that you had to tap them without restrain, if not cycle them manually as fast as your wrist would flip them, pots were so worn out that you had to learn the magic digital (as in finger) art of tweaking, etc. They had low immunity to noise, etc. Sometimes, a slam on the side of the housing would stabilise the signal.
In retrospect, I think the struggle made me a better experimenter. Nothing teaches instrumentation error better than old shitty equipment.
Great video, I enjoyed it very much.
You seemed to be disappointed that there are no multimeters made with a 1000+ hrs battery life these days, but I can tell you – they exist.
I own one that was advertised for its low power consumption. The model number is VC220 and it is sold by a big German retailer beginning with c (comparable to jaycar in Australia, German viewers will know what I mean). It claims to have a battery life of 6000 hrs. Unfortunately it is not a quality
brand one. It’s a sub $50 multimeter based on the ICL7126, a low power version of the good old ICL7106 (Many sub $50 multimeter
use this one). The only problem with these cheapies is that they use crap quality switches.
They often fail due to the oxidation of the range switch contacts.
I just wonder if it is possible to build a good multimeter based on these chips (ICL7126/7136), if one uses good switches and good components. What is your opinion?
I remember many of these ads from the time !
to self: I am not getting old
” Fluke my a**e – a pass me that AVO! ”
was all I heard from my lecturers during training in the late 80s
It wasn’t long before I got out on the job myself and realised what they meant though.
I still prefer a good analogue meter scale
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