Sometimes a small thing can bring back long-buried engineering memories
Some of you may be familiar with Marcel Proust's seven-volume work À la recherché du temps perdu (usually translated as Remembrances of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time), either first-hand or through one of the many summary notes and guides available for it. (I'm in the latter category, I can assure you.) One important incident is when he receives a madeleine—a small, cake-like cookie—with his tea, and it brings back to him a flood of memories that runs nearly an entire volume of the work (you don’t want M. Proust working in the cubicle next to yours, that's for sure!)
I had a similar "madeleine" experience recently. Back in the days "B.C." (before computers) era, when the earth was still flat, and when I was an innocent youth, I learned "electricity" by building basic electrical circuits—battery, wire, bell, electromagnet, knife switch, lamp, that type of stuff—all built on a wooden board (yes, folks, a genuine breadboard) using what were called Fahnestock clips for connection points. These clips were cheap, easy to screw to the board, easy to use, and easy to add/remove wires.
I haven’t seen or heard of Fahnestock clips in many years, I didn’t even know if you could get them. So imagine my surprise when I am paging through the latest catalog from Micro-Mark (a wonderful source of tools and fixtures for modelmaking), and there they were; you can see the entry here.
The ironic thing about them is that they were easy to use, but not very reliable, especially if the wire you inserted had a slight kink, or you had two or three wires in the clip, or there was any movement of the wires. I do remember many frustrations due to that characteristic, to the point where, once I learned to solder, I actually soldered the wiring of completed circuits in the clips. The lesson of the virtue of reliable connections was learned hard and strong.
But seeing the clips in the catalog, after so many years, did bring back many memories of basic electrical circuits and the blend of exhilaration, trial-and-error learning, frustration, debugging, and sheer fun of discovery and accomplishment those simple circuits and set-ups brought to me.
Are there any incidents, tools, products, or events from your past which you haven't seen in a long time, and that would trigger those deep, almost-forgotten memories? How about stumbling across a now-obsolete RAM IC you once grew to know and love? A 709 or 741 op amp which became your favorite? A 555 timer buried in a consumer product? The mustard-colored databook for the Texas Instruments 74xx-series of logic gates and functions?
Take a moment to think of your strongest, best (or worst) memory that would be refreshed by a Proust-like madeleine, then get back to work (but it's OK to first add it as a comment below, of course).♦