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Forgotten Electronics of the 70s and 80s 531

Ant writes "This is where you can find photos of those unusual items which somehow missed our keen attention in the 70s and 80s. Be it a specialty product, electronic novelty or an utter boondoggle from a major electronics outfit of the day, we'll dig 'em up and talk about 'em."
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Forgotten Electronics of the 70s and 80s

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  • N-Gage (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:21PM (#8060763)
    That is the page where Nokia N-Gage will be in about 10 years.
    • Re:N-Gage (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, because a cell-phone that plays games is horribly unusual... The NGage is a flop, not a novelty.
      • Re:N-Gage (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NevermindPhreak ( 568683 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @08:02PM (#8061196)
        no, but a portable console system that makes phone calls is. n-gage was a horrible idea to begin with, mainly because they were more focused with the hype than the system itself.
        • Re:N-Gage (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gl4ss ( 559668 )
          It's marketed as a portable console system that makes phone calls.

          while it is just a series60 phone with the pad placed for better game playing, as such it's not bad actually(and tony hawk is not bad, while the other titles may suck). why they're limiting the games marketing just to n-gage I don't get though(if taken into consideration while programming, and provenly otherwise as well, the games will run fine for example on 6600 and on the rare occasion when 3650 has enough memory free on them as well). th
  • by qewl ( 671495 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:21PM (#8060770)
    the epitome of cool..

    especially if worn while carrying a boom box blasting old school Beastie Boys on your shoulder.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:24PM (#8060798)
      remember those giant boomboxes? []
      • by OO7david ( 159677 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:59PM (#8061161) Homepage Journal
        I think Marty McFly does. I mean, that was one heck of a power chord.
      • s harp-gf777z.jpg

        The mighty Sharp GF-777. Shortwave radio, AM/FM, two cassette decks, an 'echo chamber' with mic jack and mixing. In short - the works! To this day, it still provides sound from my computer and it's connected to two nice Sony floor speakers.

        Only the GF-888 was bigger - and I only ever saw two of these. One was on a beach entertaining pretty much the ENTIRE beach. It had TWO handles! I shudder to think how many 'D' cells it took to power it
    • Oh, nothing compares to the many usages of the aptly named "Sexum Clock." It's nice to know that someone thought of the needs of the consumer who demands his LCD porn built into a timepiece.

      Just think of it! Those rascally teens can finally pleasure themselves without having to constantly glance over at the clock to see when mommy's coming home! You can attempt the world speed record without ever taking your eyes off the prize! You can even go for the Holy Grail of maximum times per day WITHOUT EVER LE
    • Heh, I used to have one of those boom boxes, but with classical music. I remember when calculators came out; you could get expelled from school if you were caught with one. The cool thing for me was the CB-radio with the 8-track player built in.
      • no... it's a CB radio that fits into an 8-track player. That way you could add a CB to your car without any wiring.
      • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:09AM (#8063211)
        I remember when calculators came out; you could get expelled from school if you were caught with one.

        Was this a high school that you are referring to when you say that you could get expelled for having a calculator or even a middle school?
        What was their reason for expelling a student with a portable machine that did arithmetic?

        I'm curious because I wonder about the effect that new advanced technology has on deeply conservative societies and nobody is more conservative than an American public school administrator.

        I wonder what will happen in places like Singapore, (which is deeply politically conservative, moderately conserative in education, and progressive in adoption of new electronic technologies) when the first spoken-Chinese to traditional character writers appear at low cost? Will students there attempt to refuse to spend ten years memorizing Chinese characters? Will the government ban them except for foreigners as being 'disruptive to society'? Or will they accept them a novelity and as just another electonic product to make and sell?

        An even worse dilemma for Singapore will be the camera to speech convertors. This will be (in about 10 years as a guess) a hand-held device that 'speaks' the Chinese characters that the user has in the camera viewfinder.
        With these machines will students refuse to spend ten years memorizing characters now that there would be a cheap machine that 'reads' the characters and speaks them?

        Time will tell...

        thank you,
        • Was this a high school that you are referring to when you say that you could get expelled for having a calculator or even a middle school?

          I'm not the original poster, but I remember the days when you could get in trouble (maybe not expelled, but whatever) for having a calculator... or at least for using it in a math class.

          It didn't much help me buckle down and do my long division homework when my mom said "it's ridiculous that they spend so much time making you do this... after all, everyone has calculat
        • by Pope ( 17780 )
          What was their reason for expelling a student with a portable machine that did arithmetic?

          Because there's a hell of a difference between understanding what math is and how it works, and typing numbers into a machine to get an answer.

    • the epitome of cool..

      Am I the only one who first pronounced this in their head as ep-i-tome, only to later realize it was ep-i-to-me?
      • What seems to happen with me occasionally with certain words, I'll just misread it on the initial glance and suddenly I seem unable to actually 'see' the word.

        Possibly the silliest example was whilst playing Scrabble with my younger brother, he was in a bad position and ended up putting down 'stone'.. my brain just couldn't read it for some odd reason, and I ended up demanding to know what the hell a 'stoh-nee' was.

        He found this amusing, for some odd reason.

        Yes, this is horribly off-topic for the main to

    • Heh, I still use those CASIO databank watch (with the calculator of course). :)

      I am waiting for the PDA watch version that is small enough for my thin wrists. The current ones are too thick and heavy for me to use. :)
    • by dswensen ( 252552 ) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:53PM (#8061106) Homepage
      Oh man, memories. I thought those things were so fantastic.

      A friend of mine had one that had a "game" on it; basically numbers would march across the screen and you'd have to match them on the calculator and type them in to "shoot" them down before they reached the left side of the display.

      I begged my parents for one when I was a kid, and used to think about all the unbelievably fun things I would do with the calculator watch (?).

      I finally got one, when they were cheap enough to be out of vogue. By that time it wasn't nearly as cool, and it broke in a few months anyway. I think by that time I had a digital watch that turned into a miniature Transformer.
      • by Molt ( 116343 )

        Wow, I remember the Transformer watches. A friend of mine had one, I seem to remember being very sorry for accidentally breaking it whilst trying to transform it.

        Thinking back though, considering how cunning some of the Transformers were the watch one was hardly impressive. If I recall the head flipped out of the top of the watch, the two arms just pulled from the sides (They did include some of the cover though so weren't spindly little efforts, this was a real Man's Transformer watch), and the bottom o

  • ThinkGeek (Score:5, Funny)

    by nulltransfer ( 725809 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:22PM (#8060778)
    It won't be too long before much of the stuff sold there will be listed in "Forgotten Electronics of the 90s and 00s" :)
    • Re:ThinkGeek (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kfg ( 145172 )
      Comment is funny, but insightful. Spend your money wisely people.

      Amongst those devices that I hope will be on the list of forgotten electronics of the 20's is the internet aware toaster.

      If we're really lucky people will forget about that one before it happens, but I'm not holding my breath.

      • by krusadr ( 679804 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @09:24PM (#8061870)
        Amongst those devices that I hope will be on the list of forgotten electronics of the 20's is the internet aware toaster.

        Will the virus writers be able to set your house on fire I wonder?
        Brings a new legitimacy to the term firewall. I guess without one you're toast?
  • My dad? (Score:5, Funny)

    by BitchAss ( 146906 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:24PM (#8060803) Homepage
    My dad is a bit of a tool. On his stereo he has the following components hooked up AND WORKING:
    Record Player
    CD Player
    8 Track

    It's all in 5.1 surround sound, so they all sound their best.

    I just wonder if there's room for a player piano and a cannister recording device.
    • Re:My dad? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2004 @08:06PM (#8061244)
      No, your dad's a geek. You're the tool
    • Re:My dad? (Score:4, Informative)

      by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Friday January 23, 2004 @12:45AM (#8063088) Homepage Journal
      Whoa there, kid. Aside from the DVD player, all of those devices are stereo devices. Meaning they have a 2 channel signal (though some of the VHS tapes might have 4 channel Dolby Surround encoded into them). Splitting a stereo signal into 5 channels, plus a further omnidirectional channel for bass, will never make it sound its best. It will only make it sound louder, or introduce positional elements which are not in the original recording. Combine this with the fact that most 5.1 receivers handle stereo by downmixing certain wavelengths of audio into a mono center channel, and handle the rear speakers by adding a bit of nonadjustable delay (or worse, some artificial "environmental" DSP which always sounds like acoustical tinfoil), and your father has one of the worst possible systems for listening to to his high-class analog audio.

      5.1 is a gimmick designed to hide the fact that most people can't get a true positional stereo soundstage for the price they're willing to pay. Remember: at the end of the day, you only have 2 ears. All the positional audio you THINK you hear in a 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 system is a result of you turning your head too much. Exceptions made, of course, for really big rooms with multiple viewing locations, in which multiple channels help create the illusion of a soundstage (but really, they end up creating distractions, as you're always way closer to one of the channels and everything's balanced for the guy in the center, anyway).

      Anyhow, his setup isn't even really that impressive. Talk back to us when he gets the reel to reel, Super 8, laserdisc (which is actually an analog RF signal) and DAT hooked up.
  • Color Computer II (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xgecko ( 583139 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:24PM (#8060804) Homepage
    I don't see my old Radio Shak Color Computer II
  • Nostalgia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Octagon Most ( 522688 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:24PM (#8060806)
    It took me a long time to realize that my nostalgia for old electronics is really based on memories of the fun times. The toys and games really were not that fun in retrospect. They were just all that was available. Fortunately I didn't spend too much money on eBay learning that lesson. It is fun to browse them and go down memory lane though.
  • by MajorDick ( 735308 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:25PM (#8060809)
    When I was young (about 7) in say 1976 or so my father bought a NEW digital watch , you know red LED that lit up when you presses a button, we were sitting at my grandfathers kitchen table, my grandfather was a watch maker, not some repairman he actually MADE watches from scratch at a rate of about 3 a year.

    Anyhow my father being very proud of his $800 new invention showed it to my grandfather, who looked very carefully at my fathers watch, he sat back, sipped his coffe and said "How is that progress when now it takes 2 hands to tell time, one for the watch and another to press the button to make it show time ?" My father kinda sank into his seat his bubble being burst instantly, I dont think he ever wore it again.
    • Y'all must've been pretty rich to spend what today would be around $2000 on a watch and not wear it after one comment from pops.

      I do remember seeing ads for those watches. I didn't realize you had to push a button to turn on the LEDs.
    • I don't get it.

      -- Product of the early 1980s.
    • Sure, the first generation digital watches were a step back. But now, twenty years later, who's laughing last?

      In London? Need a Physics Tutor? []

      American Weblog in London []
      • by MajorDick ( 735308 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:53PM (#8061107)
        Well I am a little sad, I moved in with my grandparents to help on the farm and take care of my 98 year old great grandmother when I was 15, my grandfather asked If I wanted to learn watchmaking, he said it would take about 4 years of apprenticship. I said no, as did my father taking my fathers route into computers (he started with IBM in 65)

        The family still owns a rather upscale jewlers store, my cousin a few years older than myself learned watchmaking from my great uncle (my grandfathers brother)

        He is one of a VERY few watchmakers in the U.S. he specalizes in repairs on historical timepices. he now makes upward of $200k a year.

        I thought the same thing most everyone else did, in this day and age how could a watchmaker compete in a world of mass manufacturing, the sad part is "Old World" craftmanship is dying, and its progressive, the fewer people even capable of this sort of work are able to teach fewer students.
    • by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <> on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:52PM (#8061098) Homepage Journal
      My dad actually has one. The red LED digits behind an inscrutable nearly-black red filter. Made by Texas Instruments, I think it was the first digital watch available to consumers.

      Battery hog, too. Kept good time though. It still works, he let me use it for about a year when I was in college, and it was a good conversation starter. Not much good in direct sunlight, but that was never really a problem while I was an engineering student....
      • TI not the first (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rs79 ( 71822 )
        TI was the first CHEAP digital watch. Before that was Pulsar [] which was anything but cheap, and oddly stylish [] today in a retro sort of way. And who could resist using a little magnetic bar to alter the time?

        Cheap digital watches drove the market for cheap (and much less accurate) clock crystals. It was all downhill from there.

        Pulsar was a brand name used by Hamilton, one of the few and great American watch companies. They sold Pulsar as a brand name to some Asian consortium and the $17 Pulsar you find in W
    • by sydsavage ( 453743 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @09:36PM (#8061989)
      Bah. My father had what I believe to be the first digital watch, a Pulsar. While indeed, pushing a button would illuminate the digits, it also had a shock sensing mechanism, so you could just flick your wrist, and it would light up for five seconds or so. No need to use your other hand, unless you wanted to check the date, which was displayed by pushing a seperate button.
  • PXL-2000 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by b1t r0t ( 216468 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:26PM (#8060820)
    I found a couple of those at thrift stores a few years back. Very unreliable (apparently they used a cheap casette tape transport at high speeds, which typically refused to move), limited image quality (large grayscale pixels that only take up half of a TV screen), no audio, and just plain wierd. Some cinematographer types love 'em because of the wierd effect they give.
    • Okay, so it has audio. But unless you mod it, it only has an RF output. And apparently people using it for artistic reasons prefer to not use the built-in tape unit (which doesn't suprise me because it's crap.)
  • by malibucreek ( 253318 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:26PM (#8060824) Homepage
    ...that this website seems to be hosted on a server with all the power of a TRS-80.
  • by starm_ ( 573321 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:26PM (#8060830)
    kind of ironic that the old diskmen were the smallest. I always tought diskmen were shrinking. In this []1988 model the diskmen doesn't even fit an entirer disk.
  • Reminiscing (Score:5, Funny)

    by saforrest ( 184929 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:27PM (#8060835) Journal
    My dad used to have a huge ancient calculator from the 60's or 70's. I vividly remember it because it had a red alarm-clock style display.

    When you performed an arithmetic operation the whole screen would turn to garbage for a moment, then the answer would be displayed.

    I never saw this for myself, but he claims that if you tried to divide by zero the machine would just keep chugging away forever. :)
  • here:
  • Remembering.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LinuxInDallas ( 73952 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:27PM (#8060842)
    I had that casio calculator watch back in the day. Another cool item was my old Pac Man watch. Anyone remember that guy? It had a little metal joystick. I can't believe it didn't make the list!
  • Kaypro II (Score:2, Funny)

    by RY ( 98479 )
    I still have a working Kaypro II, and Kaypro16 in the back of the garage. I also found the original SNOKUG library disks with it. ..... Crap I am a geek..
  • Donkey Kong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mick Ohrberg ( 744441 ) <> on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:28PM (#8060851) Homepage Journal
    How I miss my Game&Watch double-screen Donkey Kong (1982)! *nostalgic sigh*
  • I got me one of those... Orignal owner as well, Very cool. $400 on ebay. Very tempting, But I must resist. Ted
  • CB Receiver (Score:3, Funny)

    by kraksmokr ( 216277 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:29PM (#8060856) Journal
    In the 80's I found this cool gizmo at a garage sale, it was called a CB Receiver by "Conic". I attached it to my bicycle handlebars and listened to cursing truckers as I cruised around.
  • Early walkman (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trurl's Machine ( 651488 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:32PM (#8060880) Journal
    As a teenager I remember I had an early walkman. I can't recall now the make of it, but it was huge and it had cassette-loading slot, like a car stereo. The funniest thing about it was that it had built-in signal splitter to share the music with your, um, significant other and a built-in microphone - not for recording, as it was unable to record anything, but just for listening to the ambient sound. Obviously, whoever designed this device, considered the whole idea of using a walkman in solitud with no vocal contact with the outside world too freaky. In fact, I think he was partially right - I bought a signal splitter for my iPod so we can sometimes listen together, but I really miss something like a built-in mike for the ambient sound. Now when I see somene looks at me and his jaw is moving, I have to remove the earphones with "whaddidyasay?". Would be nicer (or at least geekier) just to push a button or something.
    • As a teenager in the early 90's NOT hearing what anyone else said was EXACTLY the reason for having a walkman! I didn't want outside contact! I wanted angst.
    • Re:Early walkman (Score:5, Interesting)

      by droopus ( 33472 ) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:46PM (#8061042)
      The original Walkman [] had an ambient sound button and two little mikes at the front. The button was yellow and would allow you to hear whomever was trying to talk to you by simply pressing said yellow button. Usually they were saying "what the hell is that thing?"

      I always wondered why they got rid of that feature.

    • by lazypenguingirl ( 743158 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @08:00PM (#8061176) Journal
      I require music to maintain any semblance of productivity. What is interesting is that people think "Wow, she has headphones on, so I can say whatever and she doesn't know." So, incidentally, people will hold relatively confidential/secret conversations within what would be earshot of me. When I installing and tweaking the ALSA sound drivers on me laptop (Slackware 9.1), I came across this idea and implemented it accordingly. So now I have my system volume set to an appropriate level.... AND have my laptop built-in microphone on too. So, I can listen to music at a good volume, and not be deaf to what people are saying around me (whether TO me, or in spite of me). And boy do I hear the most interesting things...
  • mirror (if needed) (Score:5, Informative)

    by polished look 2 ( 662705 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:32PM (#8060889) Journal
  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:33PM (#8060898) Journal
    Now if someone would tell me where I can find a working positive ground radio for my car (yes, really), I would appreciate it.
  • I have a weird answerphone type thing that sits in the car (one of its supposed uses). You record a message and stick a speaker on the inside of the window.

    The speakers says "Tap Here" and you do... a few seconds later your message starts playing out.

    I have no idea what possible use it could be, but I am pretty sure if it was used now some little git would smash the window just for fun...

  • older than 70s... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ejaw5 ( 570071 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:34PM (#8060911)
    someone in the EE lab at my university brought in a really old audio recorder yesterday. It recorded onto wire, which he also brought in. I don't remember how hold he said it was, but to date it I noticed it had a tiny light bulb as the "power light" apperently predates transistors and LEDs.
    • by ejaw5 ( 570071 )
      Here's a picture of the recorder:
    • Re:older than 70s... (Score:3, Informative)

      by sr180 ( 700526 )
      wire recorders were first invented in the late 1890's. They started to catch on in the first part of this century and became big around 1910-1920. In the 20's to 30's wire was used by radio broadcasters for recording broadcasts. It was overtaken by magnetic tape in the 50's. this device would predate transisters and led's by probably at least 30-40 years.
  • 80's gaming (Score:2, Interesting)

    by moltar77 ( 708055 )
    Ah, remember this thing []? Does anyone know what it actually did anyway?
    • Re:80's gaming (Score:3, Informative)

      by mekkab ( 133181 ) *
      yep. It got IR (or whatever) info form the screen, and would move these spinny discs onto the blue and red spots. THe blue and red spots had the "player 2" controller underneath it, and would press the A and B buttons respectively.

      Gyromite was a LOT more fun to play without that damn robot.
  • I remember... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TexVex ( 669445 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:35PM (#8060921)
    I remember having a pocket calculater in the early 80's that played a very simple and addictive little game. It worked using a numeric LCD display. A string of numbers and the occasional letter "n" would march from the right of the display toward the left. On the left was your number. Your goal was to use one button to increment your number and another to fire when it matched some of the numbers marching towards you. When you fired, all of that number were killed, causing the advancing line to retract. If you scored an "n" then the entire advancing numeric army would be wiped out, giving you a breather. The pace would slowly pick up until you simply couldn't keep up any more. There was elementary strategy involved -- do you shoot off this 8 right now, or save it and roll over to the 3 because you can hit three at once?

    Good times.
  • by Nick Driver ( 238034 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:37PM (#8060943)
    As a guitarist I can't help but think about the original Tom Scholtz Rockman from the 1980's.
  • I've been looking for a portable record player that sony put out in about 82-84. It's tall, and clamps a record and holds it vertically, clamping it in the middle. About 80% of the record was exposed, much like the d88 discplayer [] mentioned at the site. A linear needle moves to follow the groove.

    Of course you couldn't use this while walking, or even jogging or in a car, but it was the smallest record player I've ever seen. Does anyone know the model number or have more info?
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:41PM (#8060990) Homepage Journal
    My father has an old Super 8mm home projector lying around, with a bunch of home movies, which are lying around catching fungus. For nostalgia's sake, we still sit around once/twice a year and watch the old old movies projected on the 1.5x1.5 meter screen.

    He desperately wants to convert them to digital format, because they're really fragile. Any pointers, one how to go about this in a cost-effective manner?

    We've tried the brute-force method of re-filming the projected video off the wall, but it's *very* lossy. Some of the rare stores that do it charge anything from $5.00 per foot of film and up, which will cost a *lot* of money for the 200 odd reels lying around.

    Not exactly on topic, but any pointers to do it at home (I am willing to shell out upto $1000, if I need to buy a kit or something) will be *most* welcome.


    • ack. I have to do this, too! (box of memories crapping out in the basement...)

      I haven't looked in a couple of years (yeah, like since 99'!) but there are companies on the web who will "lovingly" (read:expensively) transfer your super 8's to VHS/DVD. If you can find a home-brew solution I'd be very interested, too!
    • by foog ( 6321 ) <> on Thursday January 22, 2004 @08:07PM (#8061259)
      Fragile? Properly stored, Kodachrome Super-8 is an archival medium. Ektachrome can fade badly if not stored properly. And Super-8 film still has more "resolution" than current consumer video formats. It's worth preserving if it has important stuff on it.

      Your projector might be at more fault than the film's mechanical fragility: if you're going to project your movies, get the projector cleaned and lubricated by a good camera technician every couple-three years or so. Consider finding a better projector than your dad probably bought back when.

      Or spend the money to get the transfer done by a professional who knows what he or she is doing. Google on "super-8 telecine". And then store the originals carefully. A professional-grade telecine setup would probably run you a lot more than $1000.
    • Telecine (Score:4, Informative)

      by rueger ( 210566 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @08:15PM (#8061327) Homepage
      The problem is that your television and your Super-8 use different number of frames per second. (c. 30 vs 24)

      Consequently getting a good copy to tape is not easy. Before video, TV stations used a telecine [] machine, which coverted 16mm film to video.

      Finding someone to do it with 8mm is even tougher since the number of people filming on the format has stabilized at oh a couple thousand.

      One resource to start with though is here [] or here [] or here [].
    • I think it would just be best to let professionals handle it (but give them guidelines to adhere to). Memories are just too precious to not follow up with a format that will be here for a while and most likely be easily transerrable in digital format (like DVD). The cost may sting a little now but I don't think you'll regret it.
    • by thparker ( 717240 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @09:12PM (#8061789) Homepage
      Not exactly on topic, but any pointers to do it at home (I am willing to shell out upto $1000, if I need to buy a kit or something) will be *most* welcome.

      Pointer #1: Don't do it at home.

      It's already been pointed out that your film has excellent resolution and is worth keeping. But I'd disagree that it isn't "fragile", as someone else said. If something has to be stored very carefully in controlled temperature and humidity, that is fragile.

      There are many reasons to do a film to tape transfer. It's hard to find projectors in 8 mm format, difficult to get them serviced if they break (as mine did -- no one could find the parts necessary), and they require a lot of care to make sure they don't damage your film. Also, with today's computers, it's much easier to edit your footage into a nice, watchable set of family memories rather than 200 reels of disorganized family history.

      Here's what I'd suggest:

      1. Stop getting them out and watching them every year. Dust and dirt in the film gate can scratch your film. If your plan is to transfer them, stop running them through a motorized feed.

      2. Get a hand cranked editing station off eBay. Use it to go through your film and organize it for transfer. The transfer house will likely splice together reels and you should try to group them to maintain some timeline.

      3. As someone else said, locate a good super-8 telecine shop. I plan on trying these guys [] in the near future. Send them one reel and see how they do. There are plenty of other places you can try; I happened to have that one bookmarked.

      If you'd like to edit this stuff down, consider standard or mini-DV which you can then load into a NLE program. Choose the best quality format you can use, and dub from that if you want other copies. Don't have it dumped to mpeg2 on DVD; get some kind of master tape made in DV, Digibeta, BetaSP, whatever you can run. This may require you to do some research into how video formats compare to one another. I'm sure google can help.

      You didn't say how many feet of film you're dealing with. Assuming your 200 odd reels are the 50' cassettes many consumer 8/s8 cameras used, you've got about 10,000 ft, roughly 14 hours or so. That's going to be $1000-$2000 to transfer. Based on a quick google search, transfers look to be $90-$185 per hour -- that's 680' of 8mm and 856' of Super 8mm.

      Bottom line -- this isn't worth doing yourself. The quality won't be as good and if your equipment isn't professionally maintained you're likely to damage the film. My old equipment has already eaten some of my film -- don't risk your footage. Start now and maybe you can edit it all down to a nice family DVD by your Dad's birthday.


  • Those little ear radios are great. When I was in college (and thus could afford not to pay attention) I used to put a portable cd player+fm transmitter in my backpack and then listen to it "wireless" on the ear radio. Problem was the SHITTY battery operated fm transmitters always seemed to drift (the only good ones are the fixed frequency car ones).
  • Looks like their website is running on some "forgotten electronics."
  • Perhaps, while we're discussing old electronics, someone can identify one for me.

    It looked like a large calculator - a one line red LED segment display, a number pad and mathematical operators and such. The display and keys were the bottom 1/2 or so of the device, the top half just having artwork on it. It could work as a simple calculator, but that wasn't the main purpose of it.

    It had a number of mathematical games in it. A few basic ones, then there were six overlays that went over the top. You sele
  • Their servers. Never knew what hit them.
  • by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:49PM (#8061068) Homepage Journal
    I miss the old Coleco handheld football games, where the "game" was just ten LEDs in a 5 x 2 grid.
    Seinfeld mentioned them in "The Toys" episode -- George loved them. Ran on a 9-volt battery.
    Man they rocked!

    Also: my pre-Atari 2600 Pong machine: On/Off, Tennis/Squash/Pong!

    Let's see, forgotten technology: my first student ID at UNC in 1989 had holes punched into it representing my SS#. By the next year they were handing out ones with magnetic stripes.

    At my grocery store job in high school, when somebody handed us a credit card, we'd just walk over to this book and see if the number was one of the stolen ones (but only if we didn't "trust" what the person looked like -- i.e. a little old lady). This was because *no one* used credit cards at a grocery store -- very few people had ATM cards.

    Manual "Toms" or "Lance" vending machines :: they didn't run on electricity. Purely mechanical devices. Sweet! Usually only found in rural areas.

    The main freaky thing about looking at old pictures is seeing how all the companies' logos were completely different, but they all looked normal then!
  • by ikewillis ( 586793 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:52PM (#8061099) Homepage
    I was very surprised to find no mention of RCA's VideoDisc Format [], which allowed video to be stored on vinyl records and was the first consumer video format.
  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @07:55PM (#8061131) Journal
    I'd like to know if there is a good source (better laid out than the site from the parent article) for electronic toys of the 80's.

    One interesting thing was the integration - I have a cassette tape player from 1987 that has an electronic basketball game built into it.

    Other interesting toys from the 80's that I'd be interested in seeing would be the XL video camera that used cassette tapes to record video onto.

    Teddy Ruxpin (another casste based toy) is from the 80's as well.

    If you notice on the parent site - a lot of things deal with cassette tape and radio - I would say 80's was defined by the cassette tape.

  • by vicparedes ( 701354 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @08:00PM (#8061177)
    There was the Nintendo Game & Watch, a portable player that played only one game. I had a modest collection: Donkey Kong, Mario, and a bunch of Kung-Fu/Martial Arts games. Come to think of it, I had some Casios also. This was back in Asia, however, so I don't know if these toys were ever popular here in North America.
  • Mirror (Score:4, Informative)

    by markclong ( 575822 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @08:05PM (#8061233) []

    Got it before they took it down.
  • by c64cryptoboy ( 310001 ) * on Thursday January 22, 2004 @09:18PM (#8061840) Homepage Journal
    Around 1979/1981, my father had in his home office a phone that used punch cards to auto-dial. You'd find the card you wanted, push the card in, and it would incrementally eject itself as it dialed the number found on each row of the punch card, making loud mechanical noises in the process. I was allowed to play with the one that dialed the time of day service. Can't seem to find a picture of one online.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!