OT: Archiving data/video/movies/photos/oral history

From: William Donzelli <aw288_at_osfn.org>
Date: Mon Jun 5 00:01:51 2000

> This makes me wonder. How standard were the "standard" components of
> radios back during WWII times? Did hackers of that era also see valves
> and the other components that radios were being made with as very exotic
> or specialized?

Yes and no. The HF ("shortwave") radio equipment was nothing new to the
amateur radio people. The tubes were all standard parts, manuals were
very complete, and the stuff was cheap enough that a few experiments
could go wrong. VHF radio was a bit different, but quite a few
guys went on and got the stuff to mostly work. Anything with microwaves
generally left the hams scratching their heads and giving up. Radar
components and UHF radios used tubes seldom or never seen in the public
sector (I have a magnetron actually marked "secret" - in 1943 that
was _very_ secure). Waveguides and tuned stubs just "look like" they
shouldn't work. The TV guided glide bomb stuff had dozens more tubes than
anything seen by the hams. Most of the manuals for these systems were
classified and never were released.

There were, however, enough people that did play with these new
technologies, and did things they only dreamed about before the war.

As for standard parts, the (few) Germans had the best deal. Their surplus
(after the war, although technically/politically it was Allied property)
used very standardized parts, almost to the point of being wasteful. It
meant, however, that a German ham could cobble up something easily, and
true to the German tradition, the radios (and radars) were extremely well

The American hams also had it good - quality surplus at dirt cheap
prices, much of it never used. The U.S. tube system was very standardized,
and most hams could get things to work quite easily with no real worries
about parts.

The British were next on the ladder - once again,
lots of cheap surplus, but not quite as nice as the German or U.S. stuff.
The government tube system certainly led to headaches (it is complex, to
say the least), but British hams were no slouches adapting things to
work, or finding what they needed.

The Japanese...well...less said the better. Even the Japanese fighter and
bomber pilots preffered _not_ to have the radios in their planes.

> Maybe hackers 50 years from now will look at ASICs as
> child's play because of the unfathomable progress of technology.

I think so. Most importantly, they will have tools that are fantasy today.

William Donzelli
Received on Mon Jun 05 2000 - 00:01:51 BST

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