Heathkit closes down, again.

With this rather large flip flop, Heathkit has closed its doors… again. The company that so many of us remember fondly from their myriad of electronics kits originally closed its doors in 1992. Last year, there was an announcement of a revival and a call for kit submissions. Unfortunately, it looks like that just didn’t work out. While this isn’t an official announcement, the facts appear to line up to Heathkit closing their doors.

If you’d like to re-live a few fond memories, here’s a Heathkit unboxing at EMSL.

Comments

  1. MS3FGX says:

    Well, that was quick.

  2. A.Lizard says:

    My device was among those under consideration for being turned into a Heathkit, I was told that I’d get a decision by the end of March after 6 months or so of e-mails, prototype submissions, etc.

    This is the first word I’ve gotten as to what happened to Heathkit. I know all about the constant busy signals (including fax) and the unanswered e-mail. Thanks for letting me know why.

    Advice to readers: if they manage to refinance and reopen, don’t submit anything to them that matters. They were a dinosaur trying to regain relevance in the modern world, and unequipped to succeed in the “maker” world of DIY electronics of today.

    R.I.P.

  3. smithincanton says:

    The TV I grew up watching was a Heathkit TV that my Dad built. He also just told me that our first microwave was a Heathkit! There is a lot of nostalgia in the name Heathkit, but the idea lives on in the whole “maker” scene.

  4. Claudio says:

    no no no no no no no no no no no

    Wow that’s a let-down, I really hoped they would at least regain some of their former glory.

    If any of you Heathkit IP-holders read this: please give the old manuals & schematics to the public domain. They can’t be worth so much to you but it would help keeping the old gear up and running.

    farewell,
    Claudio

    • KitMan says:

      The current owner of Heathkit isn’t likely to do any such thing.

      Worse, he sold off the entire manual library in 2008. Technically the rights to the IP still belong to Heathkit, but the guy with the manual library thinks he owns the IP. He’s a PITA.

    • qwerty says:

      This is exactly what illegal file sharing is meant to avoid. Laws must not be followed blindly, especially when they kill knowledge.

  5. EschatologicalEngineer says:

    I love my Heathkit products. I was fortunate enough to be given their Microcomputer Learning Center 3400 Series with all of the audio cassette tapes and the course (in the form of two large binders, a set of audio cassette tapes and the exams). The local university

  6. EschatologicalEngineer says:

    …was getting rid of it. I have learned more about assembly language and microprocessors from this device than anything else. Its sad to hear that their attempt to re-open failed.

  7. josh says:

    I never knew Heathkit actually shut down. I remember training on a couple of their digital trainers in college. We had to build one at the beginning of the semester then disassemble it at the end of the semester.

    Before college, one of my teachers in high school gave a digital trainer to me as a graduation/clearing-out-the-storeroom present. I filled out the test that you could send in for CEUs. I missed 4 questions out of 30. I got the test back with another test with the same questions. The graded test had the questions that I got wrong marked wrong, but the correct answers were highlighted. This was in the summer of ’93.

    I just figured they faded away, were bought out by another company, or moved to Europe.

  8. oldbitcollector says:

    Too bad the Open Source community couldn’t buy the rights to the Heathkit name (and kits) and allow it become an open source zombie of it’s former self.

  9. n0lkk says:

    Mostly because wage disparity, and robotic manufacturing I really doubt there will be another heyday for electronic kits. The price savings was a large part of the appeal of kits available from many sources. Yea it would been great if Heathkit could have returned to it’s glory days, but I think very few are surprised that it didn’t work out.

    • Claudio says:

      Yeah you are right. I only had hopes right now, because at the moment there is kind of a return of the kits (surely not as big as the 70ies). And yes I really can’t imagine some hit like the V7-A or their line of scopes. But I’d like to buy some kit receiver for aprs or other stuff like that to have the fun of building and something useful for today. I’d also buy some f-gen.
      Still hope the can turn it around.

  10. turbochris says:

    I found an old Heathkit 2 1/2 digit nixie digital meter at a garage sale. It still works!

  11. KitMan says:

    Heathkit never “closed its doors” before last month. I’m one of the last people to work there, and was at Heathkit for a looooong time. Around 1991 the kit business was officially killed off, even though its unofficial death was far earlier.

    In the meantime Heathkit ran with one of its profitable divisions, the educational training section. That group had been quite profitable for a while.

    The recent foray into kits was a last ditch effort to survive, as their core education market went other directions and as states quit investing in technical education. But rather than dive into the projects with all their energy, the kits were a small sideline. As a guy who built a LOT of kits, trust me when I say you guys wouldn’t have been impressed with what was coming, eventually.

  12. Chris says:

    Sad, but expected.

    I recently purchased something that was available in assembled or kit form from a one-man company. Was originally planning to purchase the kit, thinking I’d save a little money, save the seller some assembly time, and have a little fun in the process. But after talking to the fellow, it turns out it takes him more time to package the kit than do the assembly. He makes no profit from sale of the kits, in order to fulfill the expectation of it being cheaper. And he sometimes spends a lot of time giving free support to those who botched their assembly. What an awful deal for him! I purchased it assembled.

    But I still got the schematics and parts list. And because it was hand-assembled, it can also be hand-repaired and modified. That’s most important to me. I treasure everything I own that meets those criteria, which unfortunately isn’t much. A shame Heathkit wasn’t able to make good its comeback and add to the options, even if the kits cost more than mass-produced items.

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