Did you notice the components inside technology of the 80s? I sure did - so much so in fact that I bought my first Pilips Electronic Engineer kit (EE2003) back then when I was 12 - and got hooked on electronics ever since.
Today most electronic hobbyist exist in a chip-world of programming Fpgas and Pics and have hardly touch an soldering iron ever, not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that at all - hey...I even envy those very capable fpga designers that can do so many things I cant even comprehend - all power to you. The point I am trying to make is that the 80s gave us all some building bricks that lay down the ground rules for it all - and - can still be used to make some amazing discoveries, pretty much like students who use LEGO bricks to come up with new robotics-design and to solve issues that really needs a "hands-on" touch in order to become a reality, in other words - get our hands dirty.
Ive stored up a HUGE (well..at least to me...rather large) collection of 80s electronics components, transistors, resistors, diodes, capacitors, electrolytes, TTL-logic chips, microprocessors, eproms...oh...and I could go on and on.
The point is - this is just like LEGO for grown-ups of all ages, anything I have on my mind I can put into a construction with these easily manageable components. Sure - I could use SMD/SMT components - but that just isnt an option when age is hitting you and your hands are shaking, and besides - even for the younger ones these components are so manageable that tech-schools still prefer to use these components for prototyping before finally sending in the schematic to be printed out as an SMD-PCB.
I do know that many schools also use software emulation to simulate what the analog / digital circuits do and how it all work together, but time and again - this is far from realistic as the nature of components still aren't up to par with the "perfect world" of the software...and
Many of us grieve over the fact that the days when the local component store where in every city, even the small cities (thats radio-shack to you Americans reading this) are long gone, and Luckily I live in a city where the city itself still is big enough to carry whole "2" competing electronics stores - woah! - Now thats what I call choice.
Have no fear - Internet is here! And eBay!
Ever since Internet became accessible to everyone and not just schools and libraries, weve got the fantastic opportunity to share the good with each other without any borders at all. Fun stuff! And then there is the eBay phenomena, that have brought life to my Electronics hobby for sure - never before have I and others been so able to endulge in our hobby on such a massive scale before - not to mention that it costs a FRACTION of the price of what we paid back in the days. I used to pay about 60 bucks for a handfull of components on a lucky weekend when I was a child (delivered many a newspaper, mind you!) to get some action NERD style, and once they where all used up - I had to go for "pulls"...thats recycled components to the non-tech readers out there. But today? Theres no need for pulls at all - I have "probably" millions of components that are brand-spanking-new, and its a dream come true for a child of the 80s, its like uncle scrooge bathing in money...whereas Id probably catch led-poisoning from bathing in components, but what the hey...I have fun!
There is NOTHING on earth like building a little transistor radio (ok...maybe building a TUBE/Valve radio), and Im looking forward to every little spare moment I have in life - this is indeed LIVING - when I can get some time off from work to complete some projects, do some weird-science experiments and boldly go anywhere I feel like
So - I don't think were ending the era of the 80s components yet, not by far! The party has barely started.