I recently bought a Tom Kuhn No Jive model with a rather interesting history. I thought I’d share what I learned. If you have any further information on the history of this No Jive I’d appreciate the feedback.
The Continental Cash Registers / Datachecker DTS National Semiconductor No Jive yo-yo is one of the rarest and least documented No Jive 3-in-1 model yo-yos from Tom Kuhn Custom Yo-yos. It is thought to be the first or second commissioned yo-yo made by Tom Kuhn and believe it to be commissioned around the same time the Kreeger & Sons and Abercrombie & Fitch No Jive. For many years this No Jive has been referred to as the Continental Cash Register No Jive, but it should be called the Datachecker/DTS No Jive based on it’s history.
Commissioned yo-yos from Tom Kuhn in this timeframe had a minimum order of 100 units. The Datachecker/DTS No Jive is unlike other commissioned No Jives in that it wasn’t made for commercial sale. This model was commissioned for Datachecker/DTS at National Semiconductor to be distributed to Continental Cash Register customers who purchased Datachecker devices. While the Continental Cash Register company was a Canadian company, these No Jives originate from the Santa Clara, California National Semiconductor office. The National Semiconductor Datachecker/DTS company was incorporated in June of 1983 and dissolved in November of 1994. These Datachecker/DTS No Jives were probably commission in 1983 to aid in launching the brand.
The Datachecker/DTS product this yo-yo promotes is a retail point of sale solution that aided supermarkets in scanning and recording sales. This product was designed to work with existing cash registers from Continental Cash Register. Primarily these products were sold to California area grocery stores. If you lived in California in the mid-eighties you probably were checked out using a Datachecker/DTS product. Datachecker/DTS, Continental Cash Registers and National Semiconductor are all brands that no longer exist; National Semiconductor was acquired by Texas Instruments in 2011.
The design of the Datachecker/DTS No Jive is rudimentary; it looks like someone might have used PowerPoint to put it together. One side has the words “Continental Cash Register” in all caps on the taper of the imperial side. The letters have a stencil like appearance, as do all commissioned No Jives, with all the counters being open (a counter is a hole in a letter form like in the letters ‘O’ and ‘A’). On the opposite side the yo-yo has a more complicated design; the brandname “Datachecker” is displayed at the top of the yo-yo in all caps with the Datachecker logo directly underneath it on the flat face. Below the logo and the hex nut “/DTS” is engraved on the flat face and rounding out the bottom of the tapered part is “National Semiconductor” in upper & lowercase letters, also with open counters.
The Datachecker/DTS No Jive plays like a San Francisco era No Jive through and through. It’s got the same weight and feel of an early No Jive and the wood has a beautiful natural finish to it; not glossy. It is a very similar finish to that seen on the Abercrombie & Fitch No Jives that were released around the same time. The laser cutting is precise and clean with the deeper grooves and sharper lines associated with the pre-BC era. Most examples of the Datachecker/DTS No Jive have a dark, almost black recessed finish inside the laser cut, however some are lighter in appearance.
The Datachecker/DTS No Jive came in a black velour pouch with two No Jive axels, a spool of yo-yo string, and an instruction booklet. The booklet is the 1979 version of “Pumping Wood” with a staple that predates the folded version and still lists the 3-in-1 design as patent pending. The back page of the book features the Tom Kuhn “Happy Young” cartoon. The spool of yo-yo string includes a sticker that reads “Tom Kuhn Customer Yo Yo String” in all caps and compared to other Tom Kuhn spools, it has more string and appears hand wound. The pouch is identical to the Abercrombie & Fitch bag but with a green draw-string and no printing on the bag. Many commissioned No Jives from this era came in these pouches including the A&F, Smothers Fine Wines and SMo-Bro No Jives.
There is some discrepancy about when the Abercrombie & Fitch No Jive was released. The Yo-Yo Museum site claims that the A&F No Jive was for sale in an Abercrombie & Fitch store in Vancouver in 1982 but that is inaccurate. There were no A&F stores in Canada in 1982. The original A&F went bankrupt in 76 and closed their last store in 77. In 1982 the A&F brand was owned by a Houston-based sporting goods chain called Oshman’s. A&F as we know it today is a product of The Limited buying the name in 1988 and relaunching it geared towards teenagers. The A&F yo-yo wasn’t commissioned after 1988. It is likely that Oshman’s commissioned the yo-yo for their stores (at that time there were four) around 1983-84.
The Kreeger & Sons No Jive also appears to be from the same timeframe. The brand Kreeger & Sons was sold to a Dutch company in March of 1984 and a year later the brand was phased out. The No Jives would have been commissioned prior to the brand’s sale. In addition to the A&F and K&S No Jives, Tom Kuhn also made the 1984 Olympic No Jives and Smothers Fine Wines No Jives during this timeframe.
Only a handful of Datachecker/DTS No Jives are known to collectors today and they rarely appear for sale. eBay hasn’t had a Datachecker/DTS No Jive listed since 2015 (as far back as the records go). Some collectors have mentioned seeing one prior to that but the auction can’t be confirmed. In terms of rarity the Datachecker/DTS No Jive appears for sale or trade less frequently than the 1984 Olympic No Jive or the Kreeger & Sons No Jive and about on par with Smothers Fine Wines No Jives.
The majority of these Datachecker/DTS No Jives in collectors hands originated from a chance encounter between a Yomega/Team High Performance demonstrator and someone who worked at National Semiconductor in the 80s. As the story goes the demonstrator was at a Toys-R-Us in San Jose on a Saturday during the late-90s yo-yo boom. While demonstrating yo-yos to a crowd, a person mentioned they had a box of old wooden yo-yos at home. The next day the demonstrator was back at the Toys-R-Us when the person returned with a box of approximately 50 Datachecker/DTS No Jives.
This box is thought to represent about half of the Datachecker/DTS No Jives ever made. The remaining yo-yos were likely given to grocery store managers or employees of Datachecker/DTS. Unlike other commissioned No Jives like the Kreeger & Sons, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Neiman Marcus No Jives, the Datachecker/DTS No Jive was never sold in stores or through Tom Kuhn Custom Yo-yos. The demonstrator took the box of Datachecker/DTS No Jives home and over the past twenty-plus years has distributed them through various means. Some were sold to collectors, some traded for other yo-yos and others just given away to friends of the demonstrator. Recently he sold the last three Datachecker/DTS No Jives in his possession to a collector.
The Datachecker/DTS No Jive is a peculiar oddity among Tom Kuhn collectors. Very little solid information existed about this model when I started my research. When Tom Kuhn was asked about this model he simply replied “I remember those.” It is a rare piece of yo-yo history and the only early No Jive yo-yo that bypassed retail distribution. While every attempt has been made to validate the facts in this article, there are still details to be uncovered. Feedback is appreciated.
Details on Datachecker/DTS: https://opencorporates.com/companies/us_ma/000108711
History of Abercrombie & Fitch: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Abercrombie_&_Fitch
Article on Kreeger & Sons: https://www.nytimes.com/1985/05/25/nyregion/end-of-one-dream-for-kreeger-and-his-sons.html