Still Crazy After All These Years
Jim Springer - President
Computer Aided Technologies
I guess everyone has a story or two in them of ''why they are who they are''. So I'd like to share with you a little bit of what I'm about and how I've got to this point in my life. I guess you could say I'm an ''old salt'' - But at my age I have to watch my intake.
I will turn 76 - on October 5th, 2015, and have been interested in Radio since I stretched my first piece of long wire out of my second story bedroom window somewhere back in '45 or so. While I'm not Pre-Tube, I am definitely Pre-Transistor. The radio connected to that long wire didn't draw much juice, and the whisker sure was hard to place on a good ''hot spot''. I spent many a night using a flashlight under the bedcovers! But I wasn't reading..... I was listening with a crystal set and those old surplus headphones to Fibber McGee, The Inner Sanctum, The Green Hornet.....Space Patrol..... We had bigger radios, but these were more fun. Do you remember those headphones with the sliding metal ear posts and the black bakelite Earpieces?
I have my Dad to thank for planting the seeds of my interests in Radio. Dad was a Ham when there was no real (assigned) call signs, and bragged about how you could HEAR the old spark transmitters further than they could transmit. He's been gone a long time now, and we recently cleaned some of his gear out of the attic of my mom's house. She was 93. We lived just 25 miles from Lima, Ohio, home of Fair Radio. I can still smell that odd government issue packing grease ''od'eur" and remember the feel of those powdery silicate moisture bags.
Anyway - in the early 50's I naturally fell right into step for my generation of radio buffs. My closest school chum and I rigged up a set of car batteries and planted rods into the ground about 3-4 feet apart. We would water the ground around the rods. Then, touch the juice to one set of them. By using headphones on the other set of rods, we could transmit or receive up to a few hundred feet through the ground (Using Morse). We were in AWE at one of the rich kids in the neighborhood that had a Huffy bike with a radio in the tank . It was a tube job and ran on a huge batteries mounted on the rear carrier. My dad let me have his old Zenith Flywheel "multiband" radio, sure was a honey - three bands up to 30 MegaCycles. (Before they started calling it Hertz). My 'School chum' and I got pretty good at copying morse off the commercial bands.
I still have the first transistor (the original) radio I bought when I was 15. It was (IS) a 6 Transistor AM Regency MDL "TR-6". First all transistor portable ever made in the US (The Japs may have been first but they weren't "American Made"). That radio cost me 95 bucks in 1955 money. It's still on my bookcase in the den, right next to a rare TR-1 - Regency's first all transistor pocket radio. I recall ordering from Lafayette Radio a pair of "CK722" Transistors and building a 2-transistor radio from schematics out of Popular Electronics or some magazine. They were chicklet sized blue-vitrol colored things, and cost $5-6.00 each. Considering everything portable back then was tiny tubes with 1.5 volt filaments, that was really something.When I went to college, (U of D) I carried the Zenith flywheel tuned radio with me and had wire strung all around the roof of the dorm. Back then White's Radio Log was the 'bible' of AM/FM DX. (I have a 1946 copy on the bookshelf). I remember receiving a QSL card from KFI in Los Angeles - we sent for it while we were in Dayton Ohio. 3000 miles on AM radio was no small feat. To round it all out, we even had a 'phonograph AM transmitter' and DJ'd the campus.
I became interested in listening to police on that thing (Zenith), as in those days they were on about 1.6-3 MHZ. We sometimes picked up New York on a good night. I guess that hooked me. Police AND DX. I got into CB in 1960 or so. Had a Heathkit with front plug in crystals. Can't remember the call sign but it wasn't like the ones they use now. At times you could listen for days and not hear anyone. I eventually bought a transistor CB from Lafayette Radio. I once talked "skip" into Germany from my mobile on 5 watts. I loved that CB. I was talking (and driving) on the CB one evening when a car made a left turn in front of me. I had the brakes slammed and was holding down the mike button in a death grip. It was probably the first live wreck ever transmitted on radio.
I worked as a salesman for over 35 years, a lot of it in the electronics wholesale industry. I first hooked up some company's converter to my CB so it could receive police. I think it was made by International Crystal. It worked like a ''down-converter'' and could only be tuned (not scanned) one Police station at a time, but it wasss grrrreat! I've had scanners from the Regency jobs that had the ten flashing red lights (hence the REAL scanner name) to the gizmos that used metal ''combs''. You had to program them by figuring the binary code of the frequency and pulling out certain teeth. I STILL see some of those old red light radios in movies made TODAY!
Being on the road with lots of "windshield time" forced me into SOME kind of 'monitoring'. Scanners were interesting, Police was interesting, New technology was interesting, the road was long and quiet without them. I was hooked big time. It drove my wife NUTZ! When the first real microprocessor programmable scanners came out,
I immediately bought one. I got one of the FIRST Regency (that name just keeps popping up ) programmable scanners. 30 Ch's I believe, sloped front panel and membrane push pads. No more Crystals - Received up to 470 MHZ and beyond - SUPER!
Then - I lose track, but think I got one that was made by Regency but looked a lot like the AR3000. - - I have one of them too, an original 'pre-ecpa' and all that type of receive. It even did Shortwave!. I could listen to the World from my car. It's STILL a great radio.
I have been into computing since Radio Shack made the Model-I. ''Tape in and garbage out''. There weren't any disk drives, only cassette. We always recorded/taped two ''saves'' in a row cause one of them was usually bad. Do you Remember Kristopherson's Dancing Demon ? I HAD to program what I needed, as what was out there was either too darn expensive or just plain junk. I bought one of the first 8080's around and was still learning programming. It had just one 5 1/4 floppy 4megs of ram and a CGA screen - but, damn it was fast! That was the end of Trash-80. I recall my first hard drive was 10 MEG's. Now 10 Gigs is starting to look small.
Don't ask me why I waited so long, but I got my ham license (finally) in 85. I discovered 2 meters and Phone Patches. Back then, cell phones were super expensive and 2meter phone patches were really something! Then, about 1987-88 a ham friend approached me to write a 'program' for his recently acquired FRG-9600. (He told me he couldn't resist it when he went to Dayton). I dashed off something in a week or so. And from there, as they say, "the rest is history". Our first Ad was a $25.00 Classified in Monitoring Times and PopComm. We sold two programs off that ad. That was in '89. In 1995 I quit my "other job" bought out my part time partner and "went into" this business full time. LOVE it.
Did I mention I still have the FRG-9600? I hang onto that rig like most businesses would mount their first $20.00 Bill on the wall behind the cash register. It's a part of my history.
Now I own some 50 assorted radios (last time I counted). Most of them are scanners, but some are real nice HF rigs. NRD535 and TS850, R8500, BC895, AR3000, AR3000A, PRO2006/OS456, The "FROG"9600, FRG100, FT8100, IC-706, SDU5500, A Hamig Spectrum Analyser, and more handhelds than I should. Most of them are computer controllable. The list changes about as often as a new radio comes out. We have 5 computers scattered around the place, all tied to a network. We have our own 'Internet Domain' and website, a bunch of business related customers, acquaintances ... and (especially) ... friends.
In addition to all the radios I ''use in my business'', I've turned into a itinerant collector. A friend of mine calls it ''OCD'' (Obsessive Collecting Disorder). I can't seem to pass up a ''good deal'' and stalk Ebay with a passion. My wife started getting edgy as shelf after shelf of ''Her Bookcase'' was requisitioned. We finally negotiated a "Half and Half" settlement. Half of the bookcase in my den is now filled with old tube type table sets and small transistor radios. I have everything from a Crosley to a Rare Regency TR-1, to a Micronic Ruby 1-1/2 inch radio. The Other Half is filled with Grandbaby picturee and "wife things".
I also love to collect old cameras and guns and ''stuff'' I either destroyed or threw away in my ignorant youth. I have Minox's, Kiev-Vegas (Russian Spy Camera) and Rolleis. I have quite a collection of Pistols, including a S&W 44 Magnum and a number of Glocks and Old Colt 45's. A Luger Broomhandle is one of my prize guns. I recently acquired a Desert Eagle 50 caliber - what a wrist-wringer that one is!
I "once" had an over 4ft stack of Comic Books. I've even found an old Model-T Spark Coil at a garage sale . If only I had known then what that stuff was going to be worth now!
I still get a bang out of Friday nights in Shreveport. We live in the South where the ethnic population is tipping the balance. We're not exactly a crime free city, and when booze and paydays get mixed, it just gets crazy (and sometimes hilarious). Plus, we're not known as the drive by capitol of the US for grins. When things settle down on the police band and I'm late nite programming, I still enjoy listening to those 'other frequencies'. Nothing like some 'live entertainment' if you knowwhatimeanvern? It's like a live soap opera, especially after hours.
I have a huge collection of the same ''Old-Time-Radio'' programs I used to listen to LIVE. I doubt if Amos 'n Andy would make it in today's politically correct society... especially in light of our most recent President. But, you know, Amos 'n Andy's politics are not that much different than those of today.
Do you know what I really miss ?
It's the propaganda sounds of Radio Moscow.
Now THERE was some REAL "BS"!