A Bit of History
During the Heathkit era which lasted from the late 1940's through the mid 1980's, building Heathkits was a favorite activity for many electronics enthusiasts whose interests ranged from hi-fi/stereo and ham radio to computers, radio control, and home electronics. Heathkits were first marketed by mail-order, with advertisements appearing in popular electronics and amateur radio publications such as Popular Electronics, Radio Electronics, CQ and QST. This was a time where enthusiasts eagerly awaited the next issue of their favorite electronics magazine to see if Heath had introduced any new kits. Hobbiests maintained an annual mailbox vigil, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Heatkit catalog.
In the mid 1960's, Heath branched out to retail outlets and added authorized service centers in several metropolitan cities, while changing ownership several times (Daystrom Incorporated, Schlumberger Limited, Veritechnology Electronics Corporation.) Heath later expanded its products to include a Thomas organ kit, computers, satellite television earth stations, even furniture and woodcraft, in an attempt to attract a wider range of customers. Declining interest in build-it-yourself electronics resulted in Heathkit closing its doors in the mid-1980's.
There were literally thousands of kits manufactured. Development of this virtual museum is being attempted in a chronolical order, beginning with vacuum tube kits. If you don't see a kit listed, it hasn't yet been added to the museum. Information represented here has been derived from Heathkit marketing materials as well as contributions from individual Heathkit enthusiasts and former Heath employees.
What became of the Heathkit Company? Today, the Heathkit Company, Inc. is still located in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The Heathkit Company is completely out of the elctronic kit business and now concentrates on Heathkit Educational Systems electronic learning materials for classrooms, schools and training centers.
About the Masthead The graphic used in the masthead is an artist's rendering of the Heath plant that was constructed in 1958. Additional photos depict the Service Department, a Kit Packaging Line, and the Consultation Department. Additional photos: see the Mail Order Department and Heath Hams.
Heathkit is over 50 years old!
Chuck Penson, WA7ZZE, has given his permission to use his article, "Heathkit's 50th: The Green Turns to Gold," which commemmorated Heathkit's anniversary when they turned 50. This article, which originally appeared in the January, 1997, issue of Electric Radio and was chronicled in a slightly different version in the April, 1997, issue of QST, relives the origin and history of the Heathkit in sparkling detail. Don't miss this chance to learn all about Ed Heath and his unique business!
Please note: Heathkits are no longer manufactured or widely available. Heathkit manufacturing ceased in the mid-1980's when Heath closed down their kit business. However, unassembled kits are sometimes offered in Ebay auctions or in the classified section of electronics magazines such as QST.
Return to Top
|Copyright © 2002 | Cyberventures Unlimited | Last Updated: 2/8/2002|
|The equipment depicted here is for historical purposes and is no longer manufactured.|