The New York Times has a writeup on Halted Specialties Company, which I can’t wait to visit in person:
MOST retailers would recoil in horror at the thought of keeping unsold products on their shelves for 30 years. Not Halted Specialties Company. It’s willing to hold on to a few thousand vacuum tubes just in case the right buyer happens to wander into the store, be it this decade or the next.
For close to 50 years, Halted has supplied the do-it-yourself electronics enthusiasts so common in Silicon Valley with just about anything they could imagine. Like the many electronics stores once populating the area, Halted helped turn entrepreneurs’ inklings into huge success stories. These days, however, Halted caters more to hobbyists than titans of industry because much of the fundamental computing manufacturing has moved to Asia.
Halted’s cluttered shelves, stacked with everything from transistors to testing ovens (for baking semiconductors), point to a rich part of Silicon Valley’s history often lost in current discussions about smartphones, virtualization software and social networking applications. Before there was any silicon here at all, a flood of electronics pioneers were doing their best to compete with more mature, larger companies on the East Coast.
I’ve never been there before, but I’m looking forward to checking it out when I’m in the area for O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology Conference. Halted will certainly come in handy if I forget anything for the hands-on workshops I’m helping Tom Igoe and Leah Buechley put on.