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A Trip Back in Time via The RS Data Library

Andrew Back
13
Open source (hardware and software!) advocate, Treasurer and Director of the Free and Open Source Silicon Foundation, organiser of Wuthering Bytes technology festival and founder of the Open Source Hardware User Group.

Comments

September 30, 2020 14:46

Thanks for all this warm, fuzzy nostalgia! I have happy memories of pouring over these pages to find components for my projects, back in the day – my final year project, in particular. There was something to be said for the tactile nature of the endeavour and it was also cathartic to jot down notes in the margins about components you used often - everything from ‘gotchas’ to watch out for, to what you thought of the build quality for a particular manufacturer.

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September 25, 2020 10:01

My first Saturday job was at a TV and radio shop probably in 1967 (I was 14). I had a bunch of valves to test on the Mullard tester kept for me to do. I still have a folder with some data sheets, but would have killed to get a complete set. Times have changed, but I still keep all my data sheets on the PC now. I build the MM5314 clock as well :-)

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September 22, 2020 15:48

Oh MAN that takes me back, I would have been about 10 years old when my dad gave me a pile of the RS datasheets to look at. One of the BIG annual treats for me was being allowed to go with him to the Leeds Electronics Exhibition - one of the reasons I went into EE - and to do my degree at Leeds.

Dad died 10 years ago. Thanks for reviving very happy memories.

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September 23, 2020 08:57

@Steveastrouk Thanks for sharing. It's interesting how certain things can evoke such strong memories. I used to also enjoy going to engineering exhibitions with my dad when I was young and it was pretty obvious I wasn't going to be placing any orders, but I always came out with a great big stack of catalogues, leaflets and pens etc. Certainly helped to fuel the interest!

September 22, 2020 15:48

I still have a set of the Data Library, Vols. 1-3 ca 1990 in my man-cave on Skopelos island.
Alastair Dick

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September 22, 2020 15:48

OK sonny

nice to hear from young whipersnappers like you

I started my account in 1969 at the trade counter in epworth street, city of london........

it was simply to enable purchase of jack plugs and microphone cable at a reasonable price (and sell on to my school mates at a nice profit)..... jack plugs at the few electronic and music shops, that were around, was £1 each whereas Radio Spares were 1s 9d over the counter (9p) but I bought higher quality gold flashed ones at 3s 9p and resold them at 10bob each.

in those days you had to be a registered business at business registrations (gov dept)

I still use the datasheets as the best resource, especially for what are now old or obsolute parts (my first 741 ics were circular metal ones (I've still got a couple) at £1 each)

Until recently I still got phonecalls from my sparks son (at a theme park)..... dad... whats this component... or dad.. where can I get a replacement... (some theme park kit is very old)

I gave up getting the Datasheet update packs in the mid '80s but still have them all from issue 1 of the packs plus some singles from before the packs came into being.

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September 23, 2020 08:57

@malcolmsmill Issue 1! That has to be a rare collectors item :o)

September 22, 2020 15:48

Before the internet, don't forget the impact that the fax machine made to "rapid" access to datasheets. Modern engineers can be frustrated by next day delivery of samples but can't imagine that we only had next day delivery of data - if we were lucky!
Happy memories of adding and updating sheets in the RS Data Library.
And why, oh why, did I throw away those BBDs....

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September 22, 2020 15:48

I have a stash of these still squirreled away in my parent's house. Also loved when the high-end parts came in little cardboard boxes with a cut-out insert for the chip!

I think the cool oscillator you were thinking of could be: https://www.silicon-ark.co.uk/pxo-600-programmable-crystal-oscillator-by-statek

I have a couple and have used them in to drive a HP BCD dot-matrix display (with the appropriate logic gates) to make a neat little clock.

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September 23, 2020 08:56

@awordsworth That's the one!

September 22, 2020 15:48

Fantastic! It is no over-statement to say that the RS Data Library fueld my career.
You could flick through the data sheets just for inspiration - and indeed some great product ideas came from just browsing the data library.
Today's online stores and online repositories are great if you already know what you need - but not so great for just getting inspired.
However, csn you imagine what size it would need to be to cover today's catalogue!?!

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September 23, 2020 08:56

@SpiderKenny I suspect the Data Library would literally be a small library worth... But indeed, it was likewise a source of much inspiration and wonder as a young engineer just starting out.

September 22, 2020 15:48

I love this! I'm getting flashbacks...

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