Do you remember the Déjà vu moment in The Matrix movie when Neo sees the same cat repeat the same actions and Trinity says, “A Déjà vu is usually a glitch in the matrix”? (If not, this video snippet will remind you.)


Well, I seem to be having a somewhat similar problem with people called Bob. As a starting point, I seem to know an inordinate number — some might say “more than my fair share” — of Bobs. And then there’s the fact that no matter where I go and what I do, it’s not long before a new Bob is introduced to me to become part of my collection.

The reason I mention this here is twofold — first, if I ever fail to make an appearance, just grab the nearest Bob and ask them what they’ve done to me — and second, I just received an email from a guy called Maurice (I’m joking, of course, his real name is Bob Jones, founder of

Bob introduced me to an amazing website, which contains a vast archive of PDF copies of magazines from around the world, including the USA, UK, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

Based in the UK, Bob told me, “It’s fascinating to look back at some of the early copies of Wireless World magazine (still published as Electronics World), which was one of my staple reads as a teenager.”

For myself, I was a devotee of Practical Electronics and Practical Wireless. My parents kindly purchased subscriptions to both of these magazines for me. Whenever they were poised to hit the newsstands, I would visit our local newsagent every day after school to see if my issues had arrived.

Practical Wireless had a series called Take 20. I Just looked at the May 1970 issue, which would be when I was 13 years old (May is my birthday month). That month’s project was a “Two Transistor Radio.” As we see, the column’s tagline read as follows: “A series of simple transistor projects, each using less than twenty components and costing less than twenty shillings to build.”

At that time, the UK was still using what we now refer to as “old money,” which involved 12 pennies in a shilling (also called a bob) and 20 shillings (240 pennies) in a pound (you can read more about this in the Pounds, Shillings, and Pence topic of my Cool Mechanical Calculators paper.

In February 1971, Great Britain retired the concept of pounds, shillings, and pence and officially adopted a decimal system in which a pound equaled 100 pennies (they were called “new pennies” at the time). Strange as it may seem, today, the majority of British citizens at that time fought this move toward decimalization tooth-and-nail claiming that the new scheme was far too complicated and would never catch on.

Be that as it may, when we look at the Take 20 project, which was a “Two Transistor Audio Amplifier,” in the May 1971 issue, we see the tag line has changed to read, “A series of simple transistor projects, each using less than twenty components and costing less than one pound to build.”

In the case of these projects, I used to sit on the wall outside the newsagents skimming through the magazine to see what delights this month had to offer. Then I would hop on a bus to visit Bardwells electronic shop, which — at that time — was located on a backstreet hiding behind the old Abbeydale movie theater. Once I had the components for that month’s project, I would race home to build the little scamp.

I fear I am in danger of succumbing to nostalgia. Suffice it to say that I think you will have a lot of fun perusing and pondering these magazines of yesteryear. Quite apart from anything else, it’s amazing to see the number of adverts in these print magazines. It’s also instructive to see what was considered to be “hot” (and “cool”) in those days of yore.

If you do decide to take a trip down memory lane, it would be great if you could share your memories of whichever magazines you used to read and whichever projects you remember with fondness.