Anyone who was involved in PCB or circuit diagram (schematic) drawing in the pre-computer era is very likely to know the Rotring name.
Some time ago, I saw that some design guys where I work were chucking some stuff out. With my normal magpie tendencies, I ended up walking out with a box of things. Among them was a 1986 Rotring catalogue.
Rotring (or, as they prefer to write it, rOtring) is a German company long renowned for making high-quality drawing equipment. Anyone who was involved in PCB or circuit diagram (schematic) drawing in the pre-computer era is very likely to know the name. I certainly did. I had only a few of its pens and lettering stencils, but I rapidly came to appreciate the quality and reliability of its devices.
Paging through the catalogue, I came across many items that made me think "Gee, I wish I'd had one of those back in the day."
Click on the front cover of the catalogue (shown below) to start a slideshow of pages from this little beauty.
The front cover of the catalogue. A tasty temptation that only hints
at the goodies inside.
If you wish to see larger versions of these images, here they are: Slide 1, Slide 2, Slide 3, Slide 4, Slide 5, Slide 6, Slide 7, Slide 8, Slide 9, and Slide 10.
At the bottom of the lower-left picture on the back cover (slide 10), you can see a lettering machine -- a small rectangular case with a keyboard and an arm holding a drawing pen. You could type text on the keyboard, and it would lower, move, and raise the pen to write out your text. There were some adjustments for size and typeface (normal or italic) and an Enter key to type the text. There was a one-line LCD display to show you what you'd typed. I guess it was much like the label-making machines you can buy today.
I was lucky enough to get two of these in my pickings from our drawing office chuckouts. They both work. Unfortunately, neither one is manufactured by Rotring. Here are a couple of short videos of these machines working, for your delectation and delight.
Rotring is still in business, though its products are now of interest mainly to artists, because engineers have moved on to more automated tools. Rotring now sells only pens and associated items -- the stencils and other drawing aids are things of the past. Having said this, the Rotring website is well worth a look. It has some amazing examples of work created with the company's products, along with comments from the artists who use them (select the Wall link at the top of the site -- many of the artworks can be enlarged by clicking on them). The Infos link at the top of the home page takes you to an illustrated timeline of the company's history. Its products -- now as then -- are not cheap, but you pay for quality. I'm glad the company is still going. I think it deserves it.
I think that there will be a lot of EE Times readers for whom the slideshow will bring back some happy memories (or maybe just thoughts along the lines of "Thanks heavens we don't have to work like that anymore"). If you used these instruments yourself, please share your recollections of them with the rest of us in the comments below.