Bill Wilkinson's

Heath Company

Page

This document was updated on Wednesday, 7 August 2019.
Updated some links and corrected some typos on the Stories of Heath Products page; working on others.


Table of Contents

Introduction

History

Other Heathkit Sites

People

Related Publications

Heathkit on Social Networks

Troubleshooting and Repair

Fixing It Yourself

Sales and Service



Introduction

About

The Heath Company used to manufacture electronic products in kit form that anybody could successfully build. If you followed the instructions, had some basic tools and assembly skills, then it was likely your kit would work properly when it was time to plug it in and use it--whether it was a VTVM or a television set. With each kit, Heath Company not only provided assembly instructions, but also listed the tools you'd need. They also provided a short training guide on soldering skills and how to use the tools to assemble the kit.

I set up this series of Web pages because I have good memories of the place. It was a time when the late David Nurse (President of Heath Company) could walk into the factory and greet assembly workers by name. Even though Heath had stores and outlets around the world, it was a mom-and-pop organization. Customers knew they were part of the family. Many sent feedback on how much they enjoyed building a particular kit and contributed suggestions for new products.

Does that sound kinda goody-two-shoes? Well, on a day-to-day basis, it was a job. Some people couldn't get along with others. Some customers you couldn't please no matter what you did. But for the most part, it was a fair time.

Slogans

"We Won't Let You Fail"
It was a commitment to Heathkit customers that their project would succeed. It was printed in nearly every manual and advertisement from the company.
"The World's Largest Manufacturer of Electronic Kits"
That slogan used to be painted on the west wall of the Heath plant when the company was located in St. Joseph, Michigan. Across the parking lot from the building was Lakeshore Drive and Lake Michigan. The sign was highly visible from the road. In the summer, many customers who were vacationing in the area would see it and make it a point to visit the company that sent them "their" kit. Weekly group tours of the plant were free.
"We manufacture our products by the thousands, but sell them one at a time."
That was a favorite quote of Bill Johnson's, former president of Heath Company. I'm not sure if I recalled it properly. If anyone can provide more information, please email me.

History

I ramble a lot here. All facts are drawn from memory unless I quote documents stating otherwise.

Company

Heath Company declared bankruptcy in 2012, but was revived when it went into new ownership in 2013. It began manufacturing kits again, plus selling add-ons, manuals, and other services. To see what they have to offer, visit https://www.heathkit.com/.

Heath Clubs

Past and present organizations associated with Heath and some stories associated with them.

Bjorn Heyning's Heath Stories

A history of the Heath Company collected by the late Bjorn Heyning. It contains his memories and many other Heath employees. (Used with permission of the Heyning family.)

Stories of Heath Products

Miscellaneous stories that I remember; others were told to me.

Other Heathkit Sites

Here are links to Web pages created by other people for Heath products. These cover a variety of subjects which sometimes overlap with other sections on this page. For example, if you're looking for service information, you should check both here and the links listed in Troubleshooting and Repair.


Related Publications

Here are articles, books, and magazines concerning Heath Company.


Heathkit on Social Networks

Below are some of the many groups dedicated to Heath products. If you have technical questions, or wish to buy or sell a Heathkit, you may want to check with them. Many of the people are quite knowledgeable and are willing to help.


Troubleshooting and Repair

Here are some links to Web sites that provide information useful for repairing Heathkits. This includes information for do-it-yourselfers (Fixing It Yourself) and for people who would rather have someone else repair their Heathkit (Sales and Service). You should check both areas, as some of the subjects overlap.

Besides the following links, you should also check Other Heathkit Sites, as some of the pages listed there may also contain service-related information.

If you know of any new locations (or if any of these are out of date), please let me know.

Fixing It Yourself

These are some sources of information you can check out if you do your own repairs. It's by no means complete; searching the Web will turn up many more.

General

The Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ contains lots of service information on a wide variety of products. It isn't specifically for Heath products, but some of the general information and sources can be helpful.

My Troubleshooting Information:

Ham Radio

Ed Mosher (email: wa8zvo@yahoo.com) was one of the "Hams at Heath" and worked as a Service Technician, Technical Consultant, and Service Supervisor for the Ham product line. He has indicated that he's willing to offer advice on Ham radio questions submitted to the above email address.

Heathkit Shop by Mike, WB8VGE, provides troubleshooting tips and links to parts sources for Heath Ham radio products.

Manuals and Parts

The Heathkit Company, Inc. still sells some manuals for older Heathkits. Follow the link back to their Web page, click on their Support link, and scroll down for ordering instructions.
Herb Johnson sells manuals and parts for the H/Z-100 computer on his Heath Zenith Z-100 computers page. He also buys and sells complete H/Z-100s and other products based on the S100 bus. Note that this is the original H/Z-100 series computer—not the IBM PC clones that came later (such as the H/Z-150).
Heathkit Part Number Cross Reference from Data Professionals (semiconductors and integrated circuits).

Robots

The HERO-1.com site provided maintenance and programming information on the first Hero Robot, the ET-18. In addition, they had stories, links, and other information related to Heath robots. The site is no longer active, but earlier versions of it are archived on the Wayback Machine.

Sales and Service

Here are some Web pages that provide sales and service for Heath products. Note that a lot of the Web pages I've linked to throughout this document have a lot of overlapping information on goods and services. If you don't find what you're looking for in this section, you should also check Other Heathkit Sites and Fixing It Yourself, above.

General

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Ham Radio

Harbach Electronics provides replacement parts and repair information for some Heath Amateur Radio products. Enter "heath" into their search field.
RTO Electronics specializes in repairing Heath Amateur gear, plus selling reconditioned Heath Ham radio products and accessories. It was founded by Ron Oxley, who worked as a Ham Tech for Heath during the '70s and '80s. Note that Ron may not be be servicing Heath products any more. Please check his page for current status.

Robots

The Robot Workshop repairs Heath Robots and offers spare parts, upgrades, and manuals for them. Among other things, they offer a recompiled ROM for the Hero Jr. Robot (RT-1) that corrects for the Y2K bug. For more information, contact Robert Doerr at rdoerr@bizserve.com.

Weather Stations

Forecast Technologies provides sales and service for the ID-5001 Advanced Weather Computer. They will also consider trade-ins if you want to upgrade an ID-4001 Weather Station to the 5001.
Dan Hanson of Thunderhead Technologies provides software and hardware add-ons for the ID-5001 Advanced Weather Computer. (Note: They do not provide service, however.)
See also the entry on Don Peterson in the Other Heathkit Sites section for information on the ID-4001 Weather Station.


When I started this project in the Summer of 1996, there wasn't much information about Heath on the Internet. All of a sudden (Fall of 1996), resources are popping up all over. However, there's still much to be covered. If you have something you'd like to contribute, please tell me about it.

--Bill


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