Project Tinkertoy

In looking at technology, you frequently find roads not taken, technologies that for many reason, just never happened.  On of those dead ends was the US Navy’s Project Tinkertoy in the early 1950’s. Project Tinkertoy was initiated because the navy was concerned that electronics could not be manufactured fast enough if a major war were to occur.  This was a matter of concern because as WW2 went on, and electronics became heavily used in more and more weapons and communications shortages developed.  The navy wanted to avoid future bottlenecks by developing automated assembly techniques and new ways of manufacturing components in a more modular fashion as shown on the video below.

 

Here’s a bunch of links about the project.

http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/Legacy/SP/nistspecialpublication925.pdf

http://nistdigitalarchives.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16009coll28

http://www.radiomuseum.org/forum/usa_project_tinkertoy.html

https://archive.org/stream/tinkertoymoduliz00pric/tinkertoymoduliz00pric_djvu.txt

The army also did the same thing, along the same lines.

http://www.chipsetc.com/the-rca-micromodule.html

The advent of transistors, integrated circuits and PC board fabrication techniques that were cheaper than the ceramic squares made this technology obsolete very quickly.  Still they were made by at least one manufacturer and sold by Radio Shack to the public at prices that were not really out of sight.

http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com/html/1958/h110.html

Aerovox is still in business, making capacitors.

http://www.aerovox.com/

In Massachusetts.  I wonder if they still have the ceramic printing capability, because that would very useful for circuits inside vacuum where ceramics and silver that will not outgas and can be baked out if necessary would be a real asset.  I could have used the resistors on chips in the mass specs I was working on and would definitely checked that out if I  still needed them.

 

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