Around the year 1900 Ed Heath founded the Heath Aeroplane Company and developed light planes. Starting 1926 the first kit – an airplane – was available. Ed Heath was killed 1931 during a test flight and the bankrupt Heath company was purchased by Howard Anthony. After WWII Heath company started selling surplus electronics and Anthony began to explore the idea of offering test equipment in kit form - an idea he had thought about years earlier. He subcontracted the scope's design, scribbles a few simple instructions on how to assemble it, and buys an ad in the August 1947 issue of Electronics magazine. Over the years Heath developed and sold hundreds of kit products.

In the year 1972 Heathkit introduced with the IC-2008 their first electronic calculator in kit form. Some more products followed but early far-east calculators dropped the selling prices below manufacturing costs.

For almost 30 years Heathkit could do no wrong. But by the mid 70's the weight of change was beginning to press on Heath with increasing discomfort. Technology was beginning to cycle so quickly Heath could hardly keep up. Halfway through a project, for example, Heath could find itself working on a outmoded idea. And as if that weren't enough, off-shore manufacturers were becoming seriously competitive. Then, in 1979, Zenith bought Heath. What at first glance appeared to be a great relationship quickly turned catastrophic. Zenith was interested only in Heath's computer products and began to siphon off huge quantities of cash and other resources to pursue its own agenda. Then came the layoffs and a deadly plunge in morale. In addition to the internal problems, there were major shifts going on outside. Heath's original customer base was aging, and younger folks seemed to have neither the time or inclination to assemble kits. The age of instant gratification had arrived. All of these forces--and others--conspired to submerged Heath below crush-depth. 

with permission of the author