Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A Vacuum on Dale Street.

EBC 81
The day started off quiet promisingly, but went down hill quite quickly, the way they do when you find that early morning call you dashed to answer was actually from HM Customs and Excise.
That was followed by finding out it had been a year since someone said they were organising a meeting and it still hadn't arrived or any further communications been replied to. Today, was going to call for at least 2 Belgian buns for breakfast.
Ever so slightly restored and sallied forth into the rest of the day, only to drift into a 4 Belgian bun state. As I had already blown the food budget on the first 2, it was off to Pound Bakery for these two.
Suitably reinforced I proceeded down Castle Street, uplifted by the architecture and the sight of a RIBA guide showing architects around. Down Dale Street my heart finally out of the gutter, then it happened. I saw the sign, I read the writing on the wall or more precisely in the window of PRS "closing down no reasonable off refused".
For those of you who live in a world where Tech Geekness is fashionable, shops like PRS mean nothing. For those of us born before the 80s, it is our Mecca, Fire Island, Cavern or N.E.M.S and more. Liverpool's music scene owns PRS a debt too, as they supplied some of the Thermionic Valves, at the heart of their amplifiers, and supplier of the Disco worlds light. Many a TV was repaired with a replacement parts from PRS.
In the 70s it was a few doors closer to the Magistrates court in the Georgian buildings that are in bits and on Saturday it and Soldier of Fortune where the only 2 shops open. Inside PRS was dark and smelled of damp, and as still does today, there were stacks of surplus stock and broken equipment for component salvaging. You could buy all your electronics needs and sit around and get a feeling of what it was like not to be judged for being a Geek. Were that staff would know the difference between an EBC81 and an ECC81 and that an EC135 was a helicopter.
The valve or Thermonic Valve is what the world ran on before transistors, it is still used in some very niche applications today. They gave out a warm red glow and consumed power like nobodies business. They didn't like being switched on or off, but left in either state, for very long time, would be very reliable. The provided all the electronics of WW2 and where the switches of the worlds first fully electronic digital computer, Colossus.
250KW Output valve 1982 by Nick Garrod
PRS is a blast from the past where an interest in electronics could isolate you from society and quite easily kill you. Valves do not glow because of the low current being passed through them.

The nearest I have ever come to a shop like PRS was in Norwich, which sold me a Z80 DART off the shelf, I still have it, as I never got around to building the rest of the system.


  1. where will my son Finn get his BC108's?

    1. He will have to go Square wave like the rest of the world. The future is the Internet of Things and 3d printing. . 3D printer burease are to the 2010 what 1 hr photodev was to the 80s.