Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fools day

Alas, I don't have a good Aprils fool joke to share with you that I perpetrated. We did the usual peurile stuff when I was a kid though I can't even remember the exact details. I seem to remember it relied on the extreme youth of the victim and his inexperience. It also seemed to be the rule that one had to perpetrate such tricks before noon; for some reason I never knew a trick played after noon didn't count.

Andrew is young enough to still do the 'pinch and a punch, the first of the month' thang when he remembers. Morgan knows better than to try that one on me!

In Australia in the 1970's if you wanted a 'Big Dick' there was no need to check your email for spam. Sufficient merely to go to Dick Smith Electronics (DSE hereinafter) where you could purchase a DC power supply. Good thing too; we didn't have email in those days! They also sold the 'Little Dick' which was also a DC power supply. I bought one or two of each for various electronics projects. It felt incredibly silly going into DSE and asking for a 'Little Dick'. But that's what marketing is all about; I certainly knew at the time what a 'Little Dick' was though you could torture me today and I wouldn't remember the power ratings.

DSE was originally targetted at hobbyists and they advertised largely in the two Australian Electronics Magazines of the time, Electronics Australia (EA)[^] and Electronics Today[^]. DSE has long since been taken over by one of the Australian department store chains but I'm damned if I can remember which one. No matter; I stopped being a customer sometime around 1983.

In, I think, 1973, they ran an ad in the April issue of EA where they announced a new technology, the PRIC. PRIC stood for 'PRinted IC' and the ad, supported by editorial material, touted a wonderful new process recently invented that allowed for the creation of integrated circuits using special inks and printing technology. The ad itself was represented as a free sample and included instructions on how to activate it. Cut the ad out, soak it in a saltwater solution for so many minutes, glue it down to a non conductive backplane and attach the leads here and there and we'd have an amplifier. Sounded good.

The editorial blurb touted the new technology. It went on to advise we hobbyists to hold the ad up to the light so we could see the intricate patterns printed onto the paper; patterns which would become live, working, electronics.

Sounded intriguing so I followed the instructions. Fresh water with the requisite number of teaspoons of table salt, soak the bugger, hold it up to the light.

And there it was, clear at last. 'April Fool'!

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