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What about Melbourne ?

Discussion in 'Hobby Electronics' started by Phil Allison, May 31, 2007.

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  1. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    ** Hi all,

    RE all the Sydney based nostalgia:

    Who remembers " McGrath's " in Little Lonsdale Street ??

    Tucked away in a side street but had heaps of stuff on two or three levels.

    Cluey staff and damn near everything you could want, IIRC.

    I was a regular visitor there between 1963 and 1969 - got the train to
    Princes Bridge station followed by a nice walk of about a mile.

    Bought myself a 16 watt Adcola iron, a 20kohms/volt " University"
    multi-meter and a Ferguson 15 watt " ultra-linear" valve output tranny and
    a Plessey C8MX speaker there - among many other items.

    ....... Phil
  2. Mr.T

    Mr.T Guest

    Was it McGrath's? That name has a long association with the book shop for
    That shop in Little Lonsdale, next to the shot tower, went with the
    construction of Dimaru/Melbourne Central.
    What about E.D&E in Lonsdale street?

  3. Pete

    Pete Guest

    Who remembers " McGrath's " in Little Lonsdale Street ??

    A capacitor company in Bell Street Preston (the name escapes me) brought
    them out, and for a very short time after the city store closed, you
    could still buy components from a side street entry to the Bell Street

    I seem to recall that towards the end, McGrath's moved from the
    downstairs place on the north side of Little Lonsdale to the other side
    of the road, to a double shop-front with large glass windows and doors.
    Not sure where they went. As I recall, they excelled at supplying
    printed circuit boards for EA projects :)

    What was that company at the top end of Elizabeth street, between
    Latrobe and Little Lonsdale, on the west side of the road. Sold mostly
    surplus stuff, owned by a guy called Jack, I think. Eventually turned
    into an electronics supplier (name eludes me again!) around the corner
    in Latrobe street, between Elizabeth and Queen, also with an office in
    Springvale Road Mulgrave. The Mulgrave office eventually shut down, and
    the Latrobe street one turned more towards computers.

    I also vaguely remember surplus supplier in Richmond, kind of behind (to
    the east of) North Richmond station. And a "Silicon Valley" store in
    Bridge Road Richmond, opposite and near the Town Hall, followed by the
    first Tandy store in the same road. With the Dick Smith store down the
    river end of Bridge Road, I think that Bridge Road would probably have
    to have been Melbourne's "silicon alley".

    For a real memory stretch, who recalls Radio Parts, up a flight of
    stairs in Elizabeth street, near the corner of Burke, diagonally
    opposite the GPO?

  4. John G

    John G Guest

    Waltham Dan the Disposal Man ?..
  5. L.A.T.

    L.A.T. Guest

    Remember the galvanised bread-tins that the components were in?
    And about two times out of three you could even park.
  6. Pete

    Pete Guest

    Cluey staff and damn near everything you could want, IIRC.

    I remember how I was always impressed about how easily they could
    calculate the 27.5% sales tax in their heads for any amount :)

    Although one of them did eventually spoil the trick for me by explaining
    that it was just 25% (ie a quarter) and then 10% of that again...

  7. rowan194

    rowan194 Guest

    My memories (and physical being) don't go back quite as far, but I do
    remember All Electronic Components at the east end of Lonsdale Street,
    spread over 2 or 3 shopfronts. I wanted to buy about 200 LEDs and they
    gave me a sizeable discount without asking, even though they had to
    count them out by hand! Does anyone know when they closed?

    I also remember sneaking out to Dick Smith's in Latrobe Street in the
    mid 1980s when my mum dragged me along to her ballet rehearsals every
    weekend. When she decided to be nice and get me a little something
    from that very same shop the guy there said "hey buddy, you're back!"
    and then as I said "what?" he replied, "yeah, you come in here all the

    Somehow I got away with that one. :->
  8. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    You betcha! I've got lots of fond memories of the place.
    That's right. IIRC, they had this weird little stairway to the upper
    level, with a railing you could look over to the ground floor.
    Including all sorts of cool surplus/junk/scrap that was a godsend for
    poverty-stricken wannabe electronics students, which is what I was at
    the time. :^)

    Again, IIRC, there was also some other mob that sold surplus junk
    within a healthy walk of McGraths too, maybe on Swanston or Elizabeth
    St, around Lonsdale? Does anyone else have any idea who I might be
    thinking of?
    The last thing I remember buying from McGraths was some bits for
    making PCBs: Etchant, rosin, & a single-sided sheet bakelite PCB.
  9. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    That sounds like "Ellistronics", on LaTrobe St, about 1/2 a block west
    of Elizabeth St. It's now a PC shop called, IIRC, "Tecs".
    Didn't know any of that.
    Yeah, that's about right. I remember it being a major adventure for me
    at the time (10 years old, maybe?) to make the expedition out to
    Trciky Dicky's et al, on Bridge Rd.
    Yep. :^)
    You know they're still going strong, in a big shopfront at the North
    end of Spencer St?
    <Rummages through Google>
  10. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    *YES!* - That's one of the ones I was trying to remember. :^)
    No, unfortunately. That's /way/ too long ago for my memory to be very
    LaTrobe St? - Weren't they in Bourke St, or maybe Hardware Lane?
    Or am I forgetting another branch?
  11. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Phil Allison"

    ** There was a basement level you could look down on as you came in the

    I think they were turning it into a stereo sound lounge, last time I saw the
    place - selling germanium transistor amps by " Peak" and the like.

    I also remember visiting the basement level at " Homecrafts" in Swanston
    Street - bought an Eveready 6 volt lantern battery in about 1963 for my
    first home brew, two transistor AM radio - damn thing turned out to be
    flat !!!

    ........ Phil
  12. Pete

    Pete Guest

    What was that company at the top end of Elizabeth street, between
    That was it! The guy who ran it was Jock Ellis.
    Not sure whether there's a connection between Ellistronics and Tecs,
    although I do think Tecs was originally "The Electronics Component
    Shop", rather than "The Electronics and Computer Shop" as it is now.
    Yeah, buy stuff from them all the time, usually from the Malvern store.
    They're quite close to where I work.

    I believe the Spencer street store burned down (or nearly so) quite a
    few years ago now. They rebuilt, obviously :)

  13. Pete

    Pete Guest

    There's another one we forgot - Rod Irving's, in High Street Northcote.
    Rod opened another shop near where Rockby's is now in Clayton before

  14. Bob Parker

    Bob Parker Guest

    How could I forget Rod Irving's? They sold cheap EA ESR meter kits
    with no microcontroller, containing a note telling the purchaser to get
    it from the author, who knew nothing about it until he copped a whole
    lot of abuse from irate constructors.
    I think Rockby may have moved into the RIE building in Renver Rd
    when RIE (deservedly IMHO) went out of business.
  15. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Bob Parker"

    ** Err - that would be your kind self - Bob ?


    Rod was up to all kinds of mischief - including selling counterfeit
    Motorola MJ15003/4 power transistors he bought from Jock Ellis - then
    sold them to Jaycar and others like myself.

    I have an irate letter from his lawyer here somewhere, with a veiled threat
    about my daring to return 100 fake devices with the false markings removed.

    I have the "nice" reply letter I sent to that same arsehole lawyer too !!!

    Mike Sheridan liked to wax lyrical about Rod Irving - " a really evil
    little shit " - was his favourite description, IIRC.

    ....... Phil
  16. Two Bob

    Two Bob Guest

    In another life when I lived in Melbourne, it used to be the only place to
    go to get most components.
  17. Two Bob

    Two Bob Guest

    My memories (and physical being) don't go back quite as far, but I do
    In the mid 70s you couldnt get a park out the front for all the bikes on Sat
  18. Bob Parker

    Bob Parker Guest

    Yep. I gave my side of the story in a letter to the Editor (Jim
    Rowe) which was published in EA. I didn't mention the company's name,
    but everyone knew who it was. It took a lot of the pressure off me when
    people realized that I had nothing to do with this con.
    Some time after that, RIE started to mention "Microcontroller not
    included" in the kit advertising. Nice of them, wasn't it?
    It wasn't a real lot later that RIE announced various store closures
    then imploded. My prayers were answered!

    I always thought Mike was a good judge of character!

  19. Lionel

    Lionel Guest

    Jock! - That's right.
    That sounds right for the acronym. Boy, that brings back memories. :^)

    When I was about 14 or so, I got an after-school job at a PC shop
    (OSI superboards, Commodore PETs, etc, in those days) that was a block
    or two up the hill from Ellistronics. The biggest seller at the shop I
    worked at was the OSI Superboard, (6502/2MHz, 4KB RAM) which was a
    really nifty single-board computer that was very popular with
    university EE & Computing students, & also with hobbyists. The
    Superboard was a very spartan beast - just a big PCB with rubber feet
    & a keyboard consisting of (real!) keyswitches soldered right onto the
    main PCB. No PSU, raw, B&W composite video output (32 x 32 chars, 8x8
    pixel chars), RCA cables for your cassette deck, RAM expansion was
    catered for with 8 cheap sockets for another 8x 2114 RAM chips.
    Any time someone ordered one with the FULL 8KB of RAM, I'd duck out
    to Ellistronics to buy a bunch of 2114s, plug 'em in & run a memory
    checker to burn them in. (Memory check in BIOS? - What's a BIOS?)
    After seeing how much regulated 5VDC/5A PSUs cost, & how hard they
    were to get, I realised that it was a good opportunity to make a
    little cash, & designed a basic, rugged little PSU to suit them, which
    we could sell for something like 1/3rd the price of anything else we
    could find. I didn't make very much profit on them, but it was a very
    proud feeling to see people buying something I'd designed & built
    I also built & sold RF modulators for the Superboards, but they were
    just a EA or ETI kit, so not as much fun as the PSUs. At the time I
    left the place to get a real job, I'd designed a programmable
    character generator for the Superboard, & had gotten about halfway
    through a hand-wired prototype.

    (Radio Parts)
    Huh - I had no idea.
    They must have - I go past them regularly. ;^)

    \___ Proud Cog #1 in the AUK Hate Machine
    _(AUK)====:: Do *you* think that you have the Right Stuff?
    /='='='='-, Apply TODAY by addressing a gratuitously cruel
    (O+O+O+O+O) flame to: "Uncle Fester", C/O & AUK.
  20. Mr.T

    Mr.T Guest

    Yes, "Neveready" hasn't changed much over the years :)

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