Al Lasher's electronics closing.

Jim Manley jim.manley at
Sat Dec 5 17:18:03 CST 2020

I spent many a happy visit to Al Lasher's when the microcomputing
revolution was just turning over its starter in the SF Bay area.  The acid
in the oil/perspiration from my face is probably still etched in the
windows of East Bay buildings that used to house IMSAI, CompuPro, etc.
(assuming they're still even standing, which is not a good bet, given the
crazy property values these days).  I would peer in during stops while
driving down to the East Bay on Sundays from the Navy Nuclear Power School
at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, to look for the magic that was happening.

The answer to Fred's question below about will any remain, is yes, as long
as you consider Eastern Europe within commuting distance.  You can still
get vacuum tubes and core memory for a pittance from there, often with
circuit boards having the appropriate sockets and edge connectors that make
it a cinch to connect things together.

The USAF SAGE (Semi-Automated Ground Environment) systems provided the
ability to display, analyze, and share tracking data from the Distant Early
Warning (DEW Line) radars in the Northern U.S., Canada, Greenland, Iceland,
and the Faroe Islands, as well as shorter-range radars across the U.S., and
directly control anti-aircraft missiles and interceptor aircraft via their

SAGE was in operation until the last station was decommissioned in 1984,
but the U.S. had ceased production of vacuum tubes by the mid 1970s.  So,
through CIA-established front companies in Western Europe, tubes were
purchased from commercial manufacturers in Warsaw Pact countries,
especially Yugoslavia, Romania, and Bulgaria.

EPrey is the usual route to find these suppliers, many of whom are also in
Russia.  That's hilarious when you consider that the local Communist group
in Berkeley met in a rented space above Al's place (he was a WW-II vet),
that the FBI monitored closely through the 1970s.  As Russian
comdeian Yakov Smirnov said, "In United States, you watch television, but
in USSR, television watches _you_."  Now, Amazon, Google, Apple, etc.,
provide that service to the highest bidders, at least in terms of where you
surf the web, what you search for and buy, and so forth, if not outright
"monetize" your Alexa/Echo, Hangouts, FaceTime, and other personal video
and audio streams.

All the Best,

On Sat, Dec 5, 2020 at 2:47 PM Fred Cisin via cctalk <cctalk at>

> Will ANY remain?
> --
> Grumpy Ol' Fred                 cisin at

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