Editing and re-posting a twitter thread here from a few weeks ago for posterity.
I keep seeing this tweet bounce around and feel like I finally need to pull rank here.
Maybe your parents had this model. My dad designed this clock radio.
…the first part of his career at GE was mechanical design for clock radios at their offices in Utica, NY. He also did this one, which was the first consumer radio that let you enter a station’s frequency with a keypad instead of turning a dial:
When I was a kid, he would sometimes take me into his office on Saturdays and set me up with my own drafting table (pre-CAD days, these were) to design my own nonsense while he worked. He would also occasionally bring home these excellent clear plastic pre-production prototypes and let me use them for a few weeks. I guess if me as an 8 year old could figure it out, then an adult could figure it out with a manual in their hand.
He wasn’t happy at all when I decided to study music, but he didn’t stop me. He was assuming that he’d set me up for a career as an engineer of some flavor, not a shaggy long-haired maker of strange noises. Of course, the joke was on me, because it was, in fact, in my blood. I was lucky in my first few jobs to work for a couple of brilliant engineers who taught me the conceptual pieces that I was missing. And like he might have been, I’m here at my desk on a weekend writing code.
At his funeral, I was amazed at how many of his colleagues came, some traveling appreciable distances. All of them said variations on the same thing — not only was he really good at what he did, but he made them better at what they did. Sometimes at work, I’ll advise a younger co-worker on a better way to approach a problem that they’re having, and I hear his phrasing, his word choices, his jokes coming from my mouth and hope that I’m also helping them become a little better at what they do.
I love the idea that these things he worked on are still out there, invisibly ubiquitous in people’s lives.
I love that his drafting tools have been passed down to my son, the landscape architect.
I miss him, but pieces of him are always here.
(And to answer the obvious question, here’s my wife’s bedside table :