A light article for a change.
I like old things, which is good as I become an old thing myself. There is something reassuring about old technology. Yes we can do it “better” by some measure today, but we managed to get there before in a simpler way.
I started with cameras. It was a natural, being a photographer, and where I lived there were a number of yard sales and antique shops that didn’t know what they had, so I built quite a collection. So many, I couldn’t display them all, so I ended up giving them to my son, who has them in his gallery.
This is mostly Polaroids, including a Kodak Colorburst. Most of them are in original packaging, and back when I had obtained them film was still available so I used each of them to get a feel for their limitations.
These are the nicer cameras of the collection, including my Grandfather’s Crown Graphic. He had taken my parents’ wedding photographs with that camera (I have a few of those as well), and there was a collection of backs, including a couple in five by seven format. When I was a child, my grandfather would let me play with the flash, which used the old magnesium bulbs.
Among with the various musical instruments I’ve collected have been a silver trombone (easier to play than I had thought) and the harmonica my first wife never touched after I picked it up and played the opening of “Piano Man” when she couldn’t get a clean note. When I started playing bass my (second) wife bought this beautiful amp for me.
I still have and use this amp (not often enough). Earth Sound Research was a tiny company producing all tube amps during the golden age of “louder”. The dials go up to twelve, one better than Nigel’s amp in Spinal Tap.
As I got older, I needed to get a computer. I wanted a way to save my writing, and I needed to catalog my growing comic book collection. Yes, I was collecting comic books at age thirty, I had become interested in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and had everything of theirs that had been published, from the entire series by Eastman and Laird to the Archie comics series, all the crossovers, action figures, and related materiel. I can be obsessive at times. I still follow Kevin Eastman’s work. Since my parents’ other son was a computer geek (he was the first one on his block with a one gigabyte hard drive) I went the other direction, getting a Kaypro II, one of the early “luggable” computers.
The keyboard folded onto the body, and there was a carrying strap. It weighed almost thirty pounds, making “luggable” an accurate description. State of the art at one point, it had two five and a quarter inch floppy drives (single sided) and 64K of RAM. My Atari game console had more RAM. The operating system was C/PM, a pre-DOS configuration. For you non geeks out there, that’s less memory than your digital watch, and an operating system that was obsolete before Windows was invented. I used this computer until 1998, and there was still a healthy group of C/PM users, sharing programs through the mail. Real mail, not Email.
Today we live in what I call a “microwave” society. Waiting sixty seconds for water to boil is asking too much. Boiling water is too much. Music from two years ago is called “Golden Oldies”. “Instagram” creates photographs that appear old for people who have no idea what an f-stop is, or pigment fading. There is a pseudo respect for antiquities and little appreciation for technology that withstands the years. “New” is better, even when it isn’t.