Heathkit Documentation

Heathkit Logo


I do not have much Heathkit stuff here, but what I do have I have had a problem trying to find good documentation, there seems to be little bits out there and nothing complete, so over the years I have dopwnloaded what I could find with loads of duplicates and missing parts, so to save others having the same problems that I do here is what I have managed to find , I hope it is of use to someone.

A Brief Bit of The History of the Heathkit Company

Taken from many sites that I have come across whilst searching for useful documentation.

Edward Bayard Heath (1888-1931) started his career in the aviation business.

He built his first airplane in 1909 based on a Bleriot monoplane design.

In 1912 he acquired the Bates Aeroplane Co in Chicago, Illinois, and refounded it in 1913 as the E.B. Heath Aerial Vehicle Co, that was manufacturing and trading aviation parts.

At that time he also designed his 2nd airplane.

Edward Heath's Flying License 1925
Edward Heath's Flying License 1925
Edward Bayard Heath and the Parasol
Edward Bayard Heath and the Parasol
During the WWI the business grew and in 1918 he came up with his 3rd airplane design, called the “Feather”, that was a small and light biplane meant to be cheap enough to be all man’s airplane.
But the WWI ended and the surplus market became overcrowded with cheap outranged military airplanes so the market for the “Feather” disappeared. During the war Edward Heath changed the name of the company to Heath Airplane Company.
Instead of manufacuring the “Feather” he started to teach flying.
In 1921 he designed his next airplane called the “Favorite”, It was another biplane design. In 1926 he designed the famous “Parasol” airplane. It was a monoplane with good characteristics.
He sold blueprints to people who wanted to build the “Parasol” them selves and the first Heath Kit was a fact.
For several years the “Parasol” was a popular airplane and improved versions like the “Super Parasol” was designed. Heath used converted Henderson motorcycle engines in his designs.
During a test flight of a low wing aircraft in 1931 Edward Heath tragically crashed and died.
A short time after Edward Heath died, Walter Clinnin purchased the company and moved it to Niles, Michigan.
In 1933 the company name was changed to the International Aircraft Corporation.
Walter Clinnin invested alot in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 and 1934.

It didn’t turn out well and money was lost. This, combined with some other questionable transactions, eventually lead to the closing down of the business in 1934.

In 1935 Howard Anthony purchased the bankrupt company, changed the name back to Heath Aircraft Company and moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan. Howard and his wife Helen, ran the company that stayed in the aircraft parts business until the end of WWII, but Howard Anthony also started to produce radios for aircrafts.
Howard Anthony
Howard Anthony
 Then Howard Anthony bought a large stock of surplus wartime electronics parts. 5BP1 CRT’s in large numbers was part of the stock so Howard had an oscilloscope designed, to sell in kit form for half the price a comparable factory built oscilloscope would have cost.
In 1947 the O-1 oscilloscope kit was an instant success and the Heath Company definitely changed from the aircraft business to the era of electronics.
Howard Anthony came up with several more test instrument kits.
Gradually he also added kits for amateur radio, hi-fi and other consumer electronics.
From the beginning Howard realized that a detailed instruction manual was important and was one of the keys to the success of Heathkit.
The Heath instruction manuals was easy to follow, step by step, for both non-technical beginners and for more experienced engineers.
The Heathkit plant at Territorial Road in Benton Harbor at about 1950
The Heathkit plant at Territorial Road in Benton Harbor at about 1950

In 1955 Daystrom Inc acquired the Heath Company.

During the Daystrom era more new kits was developed and the company grew.

A new modern plant was needed and in 1958 it was completed.

It was built at Hilltop Road in St. Joseph, the twin city of Benton Harbor.

Heathkit by Daystrom Logo
The Heathkit plant at Hilltop Road in St. Joseph at about 1960
The Heathkit plant at Hilltop Road in St. Joseph at about 1960

Daystrom Inc established distribution centers in other countries.

A factory in Gloucester made kits for the British market, but also for other European countries. Some, but not all, of the British made kits had a different style than the American counterparts.

They also had a U (for United Kingdom) in the designations.

The American made kits that was meant for export (i.e. meant for 115V/230V supply voltage) had an E (for Export) in the designations.

The Heathkit plant in Gloucester in England at about 1968
The Heathkit plant in Gloucester in England at about 1968

In 1962 Schlumberger Ltd bought the Daystrom Inc.

The 60’s and the 70’s was the most golden years for the green Heathkit.

Millions of kits was produced and they went towards more complex products, towards integrated circuits, towards digital techniques and into the computer business.

The plant at Hilltop Road was expanded several times; 1962, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1974 and 1980.

The Heathkit plant at Hilltop Road in St. Joseph at about 1968
The Heathkit plant at Hilltop Road in St. Joseph at about 1968

In 1974 Heathkit started the Heathkit Educational Systems and began developing technical training and educational materials for use in schools, corporations, etc. 

Already in 1963 the Heath Company started focus on education and science by launching the complete laboratory workbenchHeath Malmstadt-Enke EU-100. In 1972 the updated EU-101A was launched.

Heath Malmstadt-Enke
The Heathkit plant at Hilltop Road in St. Joseph at about 1975
The Heathkit plant at Hilltop Road in St. Joseph at about 1975

A new building, at the opposite side of the Hilltop Road, was built for the Heath/Zenith Data Systems. Zenith staked on the computer business and let, more or less, the other activities decay, so this was the beginning of the end of the fantastic Heathkit era. In the 80’s the complexity of general electronic products and import of cheap mass produced electronics made it hard to sell kits that costed as much, or even more, as comparable factory built products of other brands. This made it hard for the Heath Company to stay in business. Lighting and Security was new product lines that was added to find ways to stay in business.

Heathkit SS-9000 Advertisment (1982)
Heathkit SS-9000 Advertisment (1982)

In 1982 the Heath Company launched their last Amateur Radio. It was the SS-9000, but it was to complicated to construct, even for an advanced kit-builder, so it came factory assembled. It was a state of the art transceiver with all the bells and whistles.

There was also the HW-5400 that wasn’t as advanced as the SS-9000, but still an advanced transceiver.

Heathkit HW-5400 Advertisment (1984).jpeg
Heathkit HW-5400 Advertisment (1984).jpeg

By 1985 the Amateur Radio division of the Heath Company had decayed completely and the remaining of the fine products, like the SS-9000, HW-5400 and HW-99, was on sale.

In 1989 the Zenith Data Systems was acquired by the French company Groupe Bull.

Heathkit PC Advertisment (1990).jpeg
Heathkit PC Advertisment (1990).jpeg

In 1990 the Heath Company launched their last PC-kits. It was the HS-3629 and the HS-2862, a 80386 Desktop and a 80286 Laptop.

In 1991 the Heath Company, except Zenith Data Systems, left the Hilltop Road plant and moved to a former K-mart building at Riverview Drive in Benton Harbor.

In 1992 the end of Heathkit, as the kit producer we remember it to be, was definite. The kit lines was discontinued and all product lines that was left was the Lighting, Security and Educational Systems.

In 1995 the HIG Capital Management Inc bought the Heath Company and Packard Bell bought Zenith Data Systems.

In 1998 DESA International bought the Lighting and Security business, but also the Heath Company name. Donald Desrochers private investment corporation bought the Heathkit Company, i.e. The Heathkit Educational Systems and that is what’s left of the former Heath Company.

In 2002 the HIG Capital Management Inc bought the bankrupt DESA back and became the owner of the Heath/Zenith Co for the 2nd time.

In 2007 the Duchossois Group Inc bought the Heath/Zenith Co from HIG and established the HeathCo LLC and built a new corporate facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2008.

In September 2008, the Heathkit Company moved to Hawthorne Avenue in St. Joseph. The Heathkit Company resided in almost half of the former K-mart building at Riverview Drive in Benton Harbor. The rest of the building is used by the Benton Harbor Charter School, that also owns the building. The school was expanding and need the whole building. The building at Hawthorne Avenue in St. Joseph was used by the Heath/Zenith Data Systems in the 80’s and is quite close to the former Heath Company building at Hilltop Road. The Heathkit Company resides in about 10% of the building.

In October 2008, Data Professionals in Pleasanton, California, bought all Heathkit manuals and the rights to sell and distribute them.

In August 2011 the Heathkit Company announces that they are back in the kit-business. They first launch the GPA-100 (Garage Parking Assistant). They will follow it with a Wireless Swiming Pool Monitor. They also plan for Amateur Radio kits, later on. There will probably be a QRP Transceiver.

May 2012. Heathkit was primarily dependent upon federal and state funding for schools. For quite some time, sales had degenerated. They tried to compensate for that by staking on the kits, but the kit business was not growing fast enough, so the bankruptsy was a fact.

In July 2012, what’s left after the Heathkit Educational Systems bankruptsy, is sold out and the Heathkit story seems to end.

In the spring of 2013, the Heath Company Inc. resurrects in stealth mode.

In April 2015, Data Professionals was acquired by the Heath Company.

In early October 2015, the new Heathkit launched their first kit.

It is the AM radio receiver GR-150-BK, that is assembled without any soldering of the components.


Sadly like most great companies that once were, the things that made them great along the way gets lost in the future for whatever reasons, Heathkit to many stood for a time way above many other companies and started many individuals into their careers as electronics engineers, and along the way I am sure helped out many Amateur Radio enthusiasts. The joy of learning electronic and fully understanding the hobby that we find ourselves in, is building equipment from scratch, with a soldering iron and all these components with strange numbers, colours and markings on them, when this gets removed and you just start assembling already made parts together it no longer is as enjoyable as what it once was in the old days, for me, HEATHKIT was a great Electronics Kit company, that sore what people wanted and provided a great service, sadly there has not been anything nearly as good since, If you think of companies such as Maplin’s, CirKit, and even I suppose Radio Shack / Tandy, these have all be poor comparisons of much great (and more enjoyable) companies like Heathkit.

Modern Times and the Small Hint of something nice...

Heath Company declared bankruptcy in 2012, but was revived when it went into new ownership in 2013.

It began manufacturing kits again, plus selling add-ons, manuals, and other services. Sadly it is not as it once was, those hoping that they would have revamped their old kits of Test Equipment, Linear and Amateur Radio Equipment will be sadly disappointed, I personally feel that there is a demand for the old Valve Kits, but maybe it’s just too expensive to make nowadays or the Health and safety concerns of modern day red tape ruins it for those wanting to build the old kits and enjoy what was once good about Valve technology.

Heathkit Products made you learn and understand electronics from the ground up, they were fun, well written and easy to follow, it’s a lot of these basics that have been lost over the years, so many have never even played with Valves nowadays and would not even have a basic understanding, it is a shame.

To see what they have to offer, visit https://www.heathkit.com/ or click on the button below.


All the Heathkit Catalogues I have managed to locate over the years

Educational Publications

Just a few of the Educational Publications that I have managed to locate.

Product Manuals

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