The incident he describes is an iron projecting its heating cartridge forward, which while it shouldn't happen, isn't going to harm a user since 'proper' use will not result in pointing that projectile at oneself... And even improper use would not result in a life threatening injury... Hence my comment, which was a response to yours about the 'safety' issues... Life is not safe... reasonable people don't expect it to be. In fact it is guaranteed to be terminal.
So while soldering you've never, even momentarily, had your other hand or arm in straight-line path of your soldering iron? I don't mean just right in front of it, it could be on the other side of PCB or inches away grabing a solder wick, etc... Recall that Doc mentioned the heating cartridge's final resting place was the ceiling, if he was in a room with standard height ceilings that cartridge had plenty of energy to hurt someone. Also while losing a chunk of a hand or arm isn't fatal, it's something most people generally want to avoid.
All of that is really besides my main point however... The Ungar soldering iron in question was not only potentially unsafe, it was completely unnecessarily so.
Some risks are innate and intrinsic to an activity or device, the "nature of the beast" as it were. However, as previously stated, if an electrically powered soldering iron has a chance of any part of it exploding during ordinary usage it is seriously flawed. Even an inexpensive hobbyist type of electrically powered soldering iron that is decently treated should have no more chance of explosion than a well made and properly used hammer has of falling apart in your hands. Finally, setting aside the danger it might mean to the user, why is it so unreasonable to demand that a soldering iron not violently destroy itself in the course normal usage?!?!
I don't expect life to be to completely safe, not only is that impossible it would be boring as well. However in my experience, reasonable people don’t usually take unnecessary risks. If they choose partake in activities that have innate risks, they also mitigate them to the extent it’s practical to do so. That’s not being risk adverse, that’s being smart!
And there isn't much to compare today, with the folks who created devices like I mentioned with vacuum tube era technology. Given the vast improvement in technology available to the general populace, we should see a vast improvement on what was created then... and we haven't. In part because people worry too much about things like 'safety'.
Ok now I’m starting to think you are just trolling me, either that or you are letting unchecked nostalgia seriously delude you.
Here’s why, we are having this discussion on an internet forum dedicated to artists, hobbyists, and various other non-professionals (although there are professional engineers posting as well) from across the entire globe using palm-sized microprocessor boards that are many orders of magnitude more computationally powerful than most computers existing during the 1960’s. Furthermore, the people on this forum are using these devices to improve or change any almost conceivable aspect of their daily lives, or just for the heck of it. You can read about numerous home automation projects, robotics, remote sensor networks, computerized telescopes, home weather stations, etc… even high altitude balloons and rockets with multiple sensors and telemetry! What more do you want flying cars, jet packs? Spend 15 minutes with Google and you’ll probably find someone, somewhere, at least attempting any manner DIY project you can think of, you just need to open your eyes a bit.
In any case, I doubt continuing this digression will have much further use or interest to anyone.