Electronics History and News: “The Great Heathkit Mystery”
Adafruit has a featured article on their blog about the current state of Heathkit. When I was a lad I got to tour the Heathkit company in Benton Harbor, Michigan, a short trip from where I grew up. Up until the early ’90s, Heathkit helped many enter the world of electronics, computers, and ham radio by allowing them to build their own equipment and learn how it works step-by-step. In 1992 that all ended when Heathkit closed their doors to the hobbyist market and attempted to stay alive by serving the educational market. That ended in 2008.
Well, last year came an exciting announcement that Heathkit was going to rebuild. We all held our breath, but one year later we’re turning blue. Lady Ada and the intrepid sleuths at Adafruit set to find out exactly who these people were and what they were up to, and their article went viral.
1 year ago to the day today (12/20/2013) a member of the “board of directors” CEO/President of whoever may or may not own Heathkit did a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) – it’s unclear who they are, they would not say when asked and there is not any information on their FAQ page about the ownership. During the AMA, the person with the account “HeathCompany” answered in first person, described the “board” and the “CEO” but didn’t provide any details. The person did say “The CEO is avid musician and composer” and as far as the management team claiming to own Heathkit now, the person said they are: “Active in the industry 25+ years ago? Yes. Hams 25+ years ago? Yes.”
On the FAQ page, it has the following:
Q. So who are you guys?
A. More on this later…
It’s been 1 year and there has not been an update on the Heathkit site or Facebookpage. They had some type of prize they promised during last year’s Reddit AMA, it’s unknown what happened with that, the winner was an account called “IFoundTheHeathKit” that only posted once. There is a twitter account called “Heathkit” but it’s owned by “Just some guy” in Seattle, WA.
They went on to examine who owns the heathkit.com website domain, the Heathkit trademark, and who owns the remaining company assets. The article covers every possible base. Yesterday it was updated after the “Heathkit people” made a post on their Facebook page:
Our friends at Adafruit Industries have been doing some sleuthing, and we agree- it’s time for an update. Happily, there’s plenty to report.
Exciting things are happening in the Heathkit labs. We’re pleased at the great feedback from our beta-testers on a range of quality products we’ve been actively developing. As you know, we had hoped to get several of these new products out for the Christmas market, but our team is creating so many new ideas that we’ve been slowed by the sheer work of creating patents (by law we must file them before we may sell our new products, or even advertise them). We remain hard at work, and as excited as ever to ship finished new products meeting Heathkit’s high standards.
Meanwhile, our team has been expanding. More top-notch technical advisors and advisors have joined the effort, and hand-picked interns have been learning the ropes while earning money for their college degrees. We’ve been carefully building supply chain relationships to keep quality high and prices low, and exploring exciting partnerships that we look forward to announcing. Our soldering irons remain hot, and are being put to good use.
We know you’re as eager as we are to see the newest Heathkit designs released. (Of course thousands of Heathkit® products are bought and sold each week– we participate in this market ourselves, and monitor it closely). For any enthusiasts not yet on our Heathkit Insider email list, that list will be the first place that new product availability is announced. Head over to the FAQ section on our official website to learn how to join the mailing list and also to read the answers to Adafruit’s questions about Heathkit intellectual property. We look forward to building out this FAQ section as more information becomes public.
It’s been an enormous amount of hard work, but our team has risen to the task. You can be confident that as true Heathkit devotees ourselves, we want nothing more than to honor the legendary name that’s graced workbenches and homes for generations. We look forward to providing more news soon.
Until next time,
The Heathkit Team
Uh huh. Whoever you are, you’re going to have to do far better than just talk. Adafruit and Sparkfun have made it work without a paragraph full of excuses.
(Published from Elkhart, Indiana)