Posted on January 20, 2020
Some of you may remember these, the Radio Shack 200-n-1 scientific kits. Radio Shack (Tandy) came out with various kits for kids to teach them about electronics while building projects with it. I got into electronics when I was a young kid because of a friend of mine, Eric, his dad was an electrician and we got to play with spare parts, and tear stuff apart and learn what everything was.
I was too young to understand how cool that really was, but my parents learned that I was interested in electronics and learning more. Neither of them has a background in electronics, but they got me a 200-in-1 kit to play around with. I went through all the experiments, but there were two that really stuck with me; the “door alarm” project and creating a radio signal, where I build one of the projects and was able to tune my alarm clock radio to a specific frequency and could hear myself over the radio. It blew my mind.
I lost in touch with Eric after we moved a bunch of times and just family drama, but my love for building never went away. After I outgrew this kit, it was a good while before I got into electronics again. I went the way of web development for programming in the middle of high school when the Internet was still at dial-up only, but our school had it in the computer lab and that is where I spent most of my days instead of in class.
I have created a good set of web sites for startups and medium sized business on the side, but it wasn't until 2007 when I started at Parallax that my electronics passion was revived fully. I learned about components, microcontrollers, sensors, and a whole host of technologies that went along with creating in the “real world”. I recently finished a 100+ hour class for PCB Design, and am continuing to learn about web and hardware development to take my abilities to the next level of professional quality.
These kits are still available today, and are inspiring the next generation to make all kinds of projects and “things”. You can find them online or even in thrift shops if you are lucky.
Here is a video of a one of those lucky people who found one at a thrift shop.