Saturday, January 4, 2014

Heathkit Test Equipment Industrial Design

Over the years, Heathkit test equipment went through a series of style changes, reflecting both the popular styles of the times and decisions by Heathkit's industrial designers. Sometimes the same equipment was reintroduced under a different model number that only differed in style or cabinet colour. While it varied depending on the instrument, and there were many exceptions, I've noticed a few common style themes. Going from the oldest to newest equipment, ranging from the late 1940s to the early 1990s, I've observed the following styles generally used:

1. Battleship gray cabinet with red lettering. Often used black "chicken head" knobs. Example: TS-3 Sweep Generator.

2. Gray cabinet with white lettering. Gray plastic knobs. Example: SG-8 Signal Generator (photo from

3. Two-tone light and dark gray cabinet with white lettering. Black plastic knobs. Example: IG-102 Signal Generator.

4. Beige cabinet with gray knobs having black centers. Example: IG-57A Sweep generator.

5. Blue cabinet with white front panel. Black knobs, red for concentric knobs. Example: IO-4205 Oscilloscope.

Early equipment tended to be taller than it was wide and incorporated a handle on top. The later style used wider cabinets with handles (if any) on the sides. See, for example, the IP-20 and IP-27 power supplies below which had almost identical functions but different industrial design.

The above is based on material from my book Classic Heathkit Electronic Test Equipment, available
from  and .


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