Project Tinkertoy (IC Precursor) 1953 US Navy; Automated Manufacturing of Modular Electronics

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Project Tinkertoy was an effort begun in 1950 by the US National Bureau of Standards to devise a system for automated manufacturing of electronic devices built up from modular subsystem components. The resulting products were not smaller or lighter than hand-assembled electronics of the time, but were thought to be more reliable and required less skilled labor. The basic unit for circuit construction was a ceramic “wafer” upon which the machine produced circuit components were mounted.

Originally a public domain film from the US Navy, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

Tinkertoy Modulization of Electronic Circuits by Harold Belmont Price (1953) https://archive.org/details/tinkertoymoduliz00pric

…The National Bureau of Standards during World War II developed
printed circuits to permit rapid production of VT proximity fuzes
which were required in large numbers for use in gun projectiles. With the methods used in this development it was found that the percentage yield of acceptable circuits was undesirably low where several lumped components were printed as part of the circuit. To partially offset this shortcoming adhesive tape resistors… were developed. Many different printed circuit techniques have been used since information concerning the VT fuze development was first released in February of 1946…

…with the exception of the Sargrove venture in producing a relatively simple circuit no attempt has been made to completly machine produce an equipment from bulk or slightly machined materials. The Bureau of Aeronautics became aware of the possibilities of developing such a system and in June 1950 inaugurated the Tinkertoy project as an Industry Preparedness Measure Project…

The system developed for use in Tinkertoy makes use of ceramic
wafers upon which the machine produced circuit components are mounted. Riser wires are soldered to notches in the wafer edges for holding the wafers in parallel stacks and for providing electrical connections required to the various components. Each module, as the stacks of wafers are called, generally includes the vacuum tube and associated circuitry required by one stage of the circuit. The modules are secured between top and bottom baseplates which are etched with the necessary circuitry for connecting the modules electrically. The Tinkertoy system at present is limited to production of these plate assemblies which in general contain the circuitry of functional subassemblies. A complete equipment will usually contain several plate assemblies plus mechanical parts and any conventional components
which are not adaptable to modulization…

The circuit components are mounted on the modular wafers which are the key to the Tinkertoy system of construction. The wafer is a square ceramic plate which is about seven-eighths of an inch on a side and about one-sixteenth of an inch thick. Three equally spaced notches on each edge are designed to receive the riser wires which are soldered to the wafer in assembly of the module. A fourth notch placed between two of the riser wire notches on one edge is provided for use in indexing the wafers to the correct orientation during the assembling processes…

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