In the world of electronics, the 555 Timer IC surely ranks as one of the Greatest Simple Ideas that works wonder. Designed by one Hans R. Camenzind in 1971, and introduced by Signetics in 1972, it is estimated that over a billion pieces of this unassuming integrated circuit device are still being made each year. Whoosh! That is one old-timer whose popularity has not waned with age.
In the years that followed almost every semiconductor company worth its silicon had a 555 in its product line-up.
With fond memories I recall how, after bumping into a specimen in 1980, I became wildly fascinated by the myriad of applications achievable using this 8-pin IC. Flashing lights, dimmers, buzzers, etc, etc. It was the era of fun for me.
Who would have thought that a simple Square Waveform could be harnessed to do so many tricks?
I recall a delicacy which I used to eat with relish in my young days in the kampong in Butterworth.
90% of my neighbours were of Indian (nearly all Tamil) ancestry. During the Deepavali festive season, they would send their children over to my house with plates of goodies – among them was a kind of very hard ball.
These required a hammer or a batu lesung* to shatter them into smaller chunks. Even then, it took some strong jaw muscles and very robust molars to pulverize the smaller pieces into minuscule bits that can be savoured by the taste buds.
I think these are called Kallu Urundai. It has been donkey ages since the last time I saw them, let alone ate one. Alas, now my teeth may not be able to handle them anymore.
*batu lesung = a mortar & pestle set (in Malay)
“Three things are too wonderful for me; four, I do not understand”.
As I was clearing my junk, I came face-to-face with not 1, not 2, not 3,..but 4 sets of Camera Tripods. In the days before Smartphones and Selfie-Sticks, these tripods were necessary if one wished to have oneself included in a photo that one was shooting.
I disliked asking strangers around me to help me shoot a photo, because almost all of those shots failed to meet my expectations. Using a tripod, I could take my own sweet time to re-compose and re-shoot a thousand times till I was happy.
But how on earth did I ended up with 4 of them ?
Initially I had one set at home, but I kept forgetting to pack one along in my travels. So, I had to buy another one on location. Repeat.
Yet another nostalgic item found in my store room – legacy from the days of my venture into electronics business some 25 years ago (as of 2018). I think it cost me S$700 then.
A DC Power Supply used in the product development lab, it provided twin outputs of 30A DC (max) at adjustable voltages, plus a pair of fixed 5VDC terminals. It served me and my fellow workers for about 5 years before we had to call it quits – as our business model could not cater to the new economic order.
The beast was huge and heavy – something like 12kg. I believe these days there are more compact, lighter and cheaper models on the market.
Recently, I had to give it away to a second-hand goods dealer, as I prepared to move to a smaller dwelling. Goodbye, old friend.