Carl and Jerry
In Junior High School, I had a friend named Clark Wothe. His father enjoyed amateur radio, which inspired him to start a business. Clark bought and sold old amateur radio magazines. I was getting into that hobby and purchased his damaged magazines for $0.25 each.
Clark purchased in bulk and got other magazines in the deal. Popular Electronics was one magazine that he could not sell. These came out in the '50s to '80s, and he gave them to me for free. I enjoyed reading each one and learned a lot from the articles.
Besides learning about electronics, I got a perspective on the '50s and '60s life. (The '70s and ‘80s magazines had lost their charm, and I wouldn't say I liked reading them.) Every invention was exciting, and we had the same vision. The people belonged to perfect families, had a big car and a pleasant house. We were all on the team that would get us into space, and electronics was key to being successful.
One of the contributing writers began an electronics adventure segment titled Carl and Jerry. It followed the two friends who built "gear" and had fun with their creations. The writing style was like The Hardy Boys, and every magazine had a self-contained adventure. A good example is "Tussle with a Tachometer."
While I enjoyed reading Carl and Jerry, that entertainment segment has faded away. If my four blog readers asked 1,000 people with electronic knowledge about Carl and Jerry, one or two old-timers would say, "I remember reading that back in the '60s."
Three years ago, I revisited the series and read them online in chronological order. This was a fun experience, and I thought it would be a good blog experience to take a critical look into yesteryear. So, I re-read a few stories this week. The structure is basic, with well-established characters. Each story contains great dialog, a rapid pace, detailed descriptions (that any reader could build) and lively adventure. The stories have a perfect single arc with an electronic focus.
Today, electronics short adventure stories have a narrow audience. Adults are too busy to bother with electronic adventure stories, and if it is not on YouTube, kids are not interested in reading about anything. How about skipping the adventure and writing about electronics? A quick internet search will show YouTube videos about building and repairing electronics. We consider this class of video to be educational-entertainment. However, there are no written or video-themed electronic adventure stories. Electronic-themed entertainment has replaced this entertainment segment.
An excellent example of this new category is a YouTube glitter bomb video. This is where somebody builds an electronic device that takes revenge on package thieves. The inventor posted a video of the incident online to the delight of millions. I suppose that kind of entertainment is like Carl and Jerry, but more entertaining and sophisticated. However, there is a big difference because the joy comes from seeing revenge and not the story behind building the device.
Sadly, we have lost the basic adventure class of entertainment. Why? I think our lives are too complex, and electronic adventures are no longer attractive. We require shock value to maintain interest. But perhaps a new generation will read this blog and enjoy an old classic. It sounds like we need to invent time travel gear in Carl and Jerry's basement.

You’re the best -Bill
March 31, 2021
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