1986-1990 Hobby shop

The 1st room (20 mē): The sales office

The growth of the business could be seen from the sales counter. The old abandoned wooden table that was used in the first years was now replaced, after three years, with a proper counter made of fibreboard. After 7 years, the first financial successes meant that the sales office could be made brighter and more attractive.

The shop was now open 7 hours per week, not forgetting overtime in the evenings and programming hours through the night.

"Unfortunately" there was less and less time left to study. And when the first companies had some boards made, such as Siemens and the Hahn-Meitner Institute, the owner's pride was immense. This was associated with the worry, that the companies would discover that they were producing with home made equipment. Surprisingly, this wasn't too important for the developers.

What was heard again and again was: "You'll manage. What makes the difference, is that we can wait for the boards here - that's not possible anywhere else!"

A "computer" helped to produce the invoices.

At the time, all of the software had been developed and programmed by Andreas Contag himself. Initially, it was a Commodore VC20 with 0.02 MB of memory, which was then replaced by a C64 with a daisy-wheel typewriter attached.

When the Atari ST then came on to the market, all of the software had to be rewritten in months of work at night.

The 2nd room (20 mē): Production

Production proceeded as follows:

1. Copy: Customers mostly supplied black & white drawings on paper or mat film. This had to be copied onto a transparent film. The copy machine was self-made, using a 500 Watt light and some wood. This also applied for the electronic timer.

2. Expose: The transparent film was placed on the base material coated with photosensitive varnish, fixed with paper clips and exposed for 3 minutes to ultraviolet light produced by a plant lamp.

3. Etch: There wasn't enough money to by an etching system, so the following construction was improvised: An eccentric motor made the bath wobble back and forwards, so that the liquid could flow over the circuit board. To warm the bath, a kettle from the kitchen was used and the heated water was pumped to the bath using a hose. This meant that all that was necessary was an old wooden table, an eccentric motor and some plywood.

4. Drill: The following game supplied the motivation: Four students (both Contags and two helping friends) sat around a table, each with a small hand drill. "Ready, steady, go": The winner was the first one to completely drill 10 boards (about 1000 holes). Shame on the one who misplaced even just one hole ... quality was always very important!

Years later one can smile about the production process, but it was good enough in those days. There was no investment in a financial sense, because all of the equipment was home made with the simplest of means. That was cheap - and your own working time doesn't cost anything.

First expansion! Renting the adjacent flat

In 1989, it became necessary to expand. The flat next door was the obvious choice, but at the time it was still rented out. Once the occupant had been found a new flat, there was nothing standing in the way of expansion to 120 square metres.

Or was there? Due to the shortage of accommodation, it was forbidden to use living space for any other purpose and, circuit board production with chemicals and drilling machines was certainly not popular in a block of flats. So, environment, security and noise were all given great priority which was then ultimately successful. As a move to a proper commercial property was financially unsupportable, the survival of the business was on a knife's edge for years.

Through the expansion, there was finally a toilet of their own. There was even a small conference and break room, where a wooden board installed by the previous tenant served as storage space.


Printed circuit board technology

The product spectrum

  • Single-side circuit boards
  • Double-sided circuit boards, but without chemically deposited through contacts
  • Minimum track width: 1.0 mm
  • Smallest diameter hole: 0.8 mm


Your personal contact

Guido Strehl
Assistant to the general
+49 30 351 788-225