I spent a few days at the 2009 IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium www.ims2009.org in Boston; you can read my two reports about it here and here. It was fun, it was exciting, and there was an unexpected treat at the back of the hall.
Thanks to the efforts of the National Electronics Museum, as well as other organizations and individuals, there was a great exhibit of historical items from the 1940s and 1950s: components, tubes, magnetrons, klystrons, test equipment, magazines, promotional literature, and more.
I took some photos (links below) to give you and idea of what was there. Sorry, the quality is only so-so, since it's very hard to take decent photos through glass display cases, with bright lights above, all causing glare, reflections, and worse. But at least you get some sense of what was on exhibit.
And if the average person can't appreciate the technical, esthetic, artistic, existential beauty, and social impact of these items, the exhibit also included the magnetron from an early Raytheon microwave oven (their Radarange), see photo 6, and an original Radarange (photo 14), which was the size of a conventional kitchen refrigerator. The sign said that the anecdote is that a Raytheon executive asked "who would spend a lot of money for a hot-dog warmer?"
So, enjoy the photos! And give some respect to those who managed to get so much done (there were even 35-GHz units there) with components and equipment that we would consider the equivalent of "stone age" implements. The next time someone complains they can't do their job because they don't have what they need, just point them to these accomplishments.