Electronics Illustrated Article - September, 1967
First Phase - Electronic Dominoes
Second Phase - LECTRON
Supplementary Instruction Manual
Raytheon LECTRON In The Media
Raytheon Employee Purchase Order
Raytheon is an American company with numerous subsidiaries which still conducts business today. From the fourth quarter of 1967 through 1969 the LECTRON product was sold through the Macalaster Scientific Company which was a division of the Raytheon Education Company.
For simplicity's sake, I will refer to the Raytheon Education Company as Raytheon.
How did Raytheon become involved with the LECTRON? According to an article dated July 24th, 1966 (shown below), Egger-Bahn had revealed plans to begin exporting the LECTRON to other international markets. "From January 1st, 1967, Egger will generally begin exporting the electronic system (LECTRON). Especially in the U.S. market as the largest market for technical teaching aids, the company (Egger) expects very good sales opportunities."
Unfortunately, Egger-Bahn went out of business in the latter part of 1967. That reasons for that situation are detailed in the introduction section under the Egger Era tab.
According to the F.A.Z. article (shown on the left) published in Frankfurt on April 20th, 1968 (Raytheon had started selling the LECTRON in the US in the 4th quarter of 1967) Deutsche Lectron, GmbH was identified as the company which had made the exclusive sales and distribution agreements (for the LECTRON) with Braun AG and Raytheon a year earlier in 1967. The reader will recall that Deutsche Lectron was the repurposed LECTRON production facility which was formed in the Fall of 1967 after Egger-Bahn's dissolution in the same time frame. Deutsche Lectron's production facilities remained at the old Egger-Bahn location in Munich. The article below provides an interesting revelation that it was Deutsche Lectron that made the distribution and sales agency arrangements for the LECTRON (in addition to the product development and roll out of new models and updates/upgrades). Braun AG (and Raytheon) only handled the sales and marketing.
We have a first hand account of an Egger-Lectron model 8400 being evaluated by an employee of Electronics Illustrated. Please read the Electronics Illustrated Article - September, 1967 section for more information about the initial LECTRON start with Raytheon. The author in the article writes that he received an 'Egger-Lectron 8400 learning aid' for his review (and not a Braun branded one).
Popular Science also received an Egger 8400 model for their 1 page article which appeared in the August, 1967 issue.
Unfortunately, Raytheon decided to focus primarily on the toy market rather than the academic and education marketplaces. However, the second phase Series 4 and 5 models were developed with the academic and vocational school sectors but were quite expensive (for the time) and did not have a large production run. For example, only about 250 units of the Series 5 model were produced with a retail price of $200.00 in 1968 dollars (about $1375.00 in 2014 dollars).
Kimble, who started selling the LECTRON in the USA starting in 1972, also focused on the toy market with their Mr. Wizard's Experiments in Electronics models.
More discussion about Deutsche Lectron, GmbH may be found under its own tab.
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A very informative article (click on the cover photo to the left) about the pending introduction and sale of the LECTRON in the United States was published in the September, 1967 issue of Electronics Illustrated.
The article offers our first glimpse of the LECTRON being exported to the American marketplace by Egger-Lectron/Deutsche Lectron.
The article mentions the Egger-Lectron 8400 (never sold in the US), the Egger Mini-Lectron (never sold in the US), two intermediate sets (most likely the impending 800 and 820 Electronic Dominoes models), individual blister packs for select blocks as add-ons (first mentioned by Egger-Lectron but not offered to the German marketplace until Braun was awarded the LECTRON sales distributorship and not sold in the US), and the moniker 'Electronic Dominoes'.
It is interesting to note that the reviewer, Elmer Carlson, states that he received the 'Egger-Lectron 8400 learning aid' from Raytheon and not the Braun branded 8400. Neither Egger or Braun is explicitly cited as the producing company of the LECTRON. Looking at the below cover photograph, one can see the dark yellow cover of the Egger manual just above the base plate. I wish that there had been a photo of just one page of text. Mr. Carlson does not say what language the manual's text was in (but it was most likely in German as Egger did not publish an English version manual). Note also that the base plate does not have the blue edge which typically all the Egger base plates had. This base plate looks like the Braun version. Product review articles are usually prepared some 2 or so months in advance of publication so the author likely received the 8400 in July, 1967. Egger was still in business at that time so that would account for why the Egger branded model was reviewed rather than the Braun one. The Braun sales distributorship, although in the works, had yet to be announced and completed with Deutsche Lectron, GmbH.
I acquired both the Raytheon 820 and Egger 8400 in the same eBay auction from a Rhode Island consignment house. I was informed by the seller that these 2 models were the consignment of a man whose father had been a Raytheon employee and that he had acquired them as such. Unfortunately, no Egger manual was included with this auction.
There was no direct mention in the article concerning the models which Raytheon actually initially sold: The 800 and 820.
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From Boy's Life in December of 1967:
Raytheon sold the LECTRON in two phases. The first phase was sold as 'Electronic Dominoes' and featured two models: The 800 and the 820. The styrofoam molds and packaging were reused leftovers from Egger Lectron models. Not surprising since Deutsche Lectron was the manufacturer of the LECTRON until the Fall of 1972 when Lectron, GmbH was formed under Manfred Walter's leadership. Ultimately the Raytheon production packaging transitioned to white styrofoam instead of black, just as Braun did. It is interesting to note that the instruction manual photos of the 800 and 820 used the Egger black styrofoam packaging. In point of fact, the Egger leftovers were used as the examples because the white Raytheon versions were not production ready when the manual was prepared. Raytheon sold the 800 and 820 using the Egger black styrofoam packaging leftovers until those supplies were exhausted.
One unique aspect to the Electronic Dominoes instruction manual was that there were two versions. The first version used actual photographs of an assembled experiment. Every other instruction manual published by the other companies (Egger, Kimble, Braun, Lectron, GmbH, and INELCO) used drawings.
In the second edition of the instruction manual, Raytheon also transitioned to drawings. Otherwise, content remained the same. This was the version that Raytheon would use as their basis for the Series' instruction manual.
Second Phase - LECTRON
The second phase, which reached the marketplace in May of 1968, was sold as 'LECTRON' and saw an expansion of the LECTRON product family in new packaging to include three new sets - the Series 1, 4, and 5. The 800 and 820 Electronic Dominoes models were repackaged as the Series 2 and Series 3 models.
The initial new lineup included the Series 1 - 5 sets and the Add-On sets 1-5. Add-On sets 6 - 7 were added later when the Series 3A set was released along with a new supplementary manual with additional experiments (although one document I have lists an 8th such set). Add-On sets could be used for upgrading purposes. For example, converting a Series 1 set into a Series 2 set. The Electronic Dominoes moniker was also retired. The blocks continued to be made in West Germany.
In order to save start-up costs for the Series product line, Raytheon reworked the second version of the instruction manual from the Electronic Dominoes product line. Wherever the words 'Electronic Dominoes' appeared in the manual, the word 'Lectron' was substituted. A new page was added to reflect the Series 1 set but no photo was added. The cover graphic was also changed. The experiments and accompanying verbiage remained the same.
Further discussion on the manual will follow on the individual Series' model pages.
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By the time the 4 page marketing brouchure was published, the Series 3A set had been added to the lineup along with the supplementary instruction manual no.1. A no. 2 manual was never created. The brochure did not show the added red stickers to show the increased experiment count with the added supplemenary manual.
The page below is from that marketing brochure and gives a full overview of the final Raytheon Series product line.
The supplementary instruction manual no. 1 added experiments 28 - 64.
Raytheon also 'made' a Series 3 kit for Creative Playthings of Princeton, NJ which was sold as the S822 Lectron SCIII. Please select the Creative Playthings tab for more information.
Raytheon LECTRON In The Media
My thanks to Lisa Ferguson of Corporate Affairs & Communications - Global Headquarters at the Raytheon Company for the following two items from the internal-only publication Raytheon News. The first item from April of 1968 features the well-known TV personality, Hugh Downs playing with the LECTRON on the Today Show in March of 1968. Bruce Hunt, manager of consumer products of the Raytheon Education Company, also announced the refresh of the LECTRON product line to start in mid May.
The second article is from October, 1968 when the Series product line was well underway.
The photo above was used in several advertising campaigns and in the four page marketing and sales brochure.
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I have been trying to find anyone who worked for Raytheon back in 1967-1969 who might be a resource for more historical information. As of December, 2012, I have not been successful. Visitors to this site who can offer additional insight concerning the history of the LECTRON during the Raytheon era are earnestly encouraged to contact me: mpeters at mpetersco dot com.
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