Getting personal about chips – nice shout out!
Companies like Adafruit and Sparkfun seem to be leading the way toward making hobby electronics accessible again to the entry level experimenter. They produce very simple (as well as complex) products. The put tiny smt parts on big break-out boards. They provide great tutorials. It is different than it was, but I think electronics is getting back to a place where youngsters can fairly easily get engaged and involved again.