Been having fun playing with Google Map’s Quest feature, creating some lo-fi Austin scenes. I’m sorry to say that this is likely a Google April Fools’ joke, as I kind of like poking around places as though they were background scenes from a forgotten third-tier Sierra adventure. I’ve posted a handful of Austin 8Bit pics on Flickr — what other locations would be good choices?
Notes about retro
Thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse’s always-amazing preshow entertainment reels, Marsha and I have had this Three Stooges earworm stuck in our head for the past week. Maybe now you’ll be stuck with it too.
(PS for cartoon fans: this song is the origin of a classic Dale Gribble-ism)
It’s the 50th anniversary on Sunday of the IBM Selectric, the typewriter that revolutionized modern office equipment. Removing those antiquated mechanical keys attached to individual type bars, the Selectric introduced the crazy golf ball thing seen above, rapidly rotating the correct letter into place before striking the paper (unlike older typewriters, the paper stayed put and the ball + ink ribbon moved). Users could even swap out their golf ball for one of many with a different font set, a feature now taken for granted with our magical computers.
Retro-sexy enough to be featured in the 1960 world of Mad Men (the model they use is somewhat anachronistic), solid enough to be Hunter S. Thompson’s preferred machine (his was red), but with enough geek cred to be used as an electromechanical computer terminal interface (six-bit character encoding!).
My office’s supply room still stocks some of these balls, even though I can’t imagine there are many typewriters left. I’d better go stock up.
(Via El Reg)
From a 1950 issue of Popular Science, an ad featuring Bell Lab’s early multi-frequency signaling keyboard for connecting long distance phone calls, in the era just before DTMF dialtones were introduced to America’s households.
(Via the always-interesting History of Phone Phreaking blog, which links to a couple of other good vintage Bell Labs ads)
The world’s only working (modern) Pallophotophone plays 80-year-old NBC radio broadcasts:
The pallophotophone was an early audio recorder created by GE researcher Charles Hoxie in 1922. Rather than using magnetic wire or lacquer disks, the device captured audio waveforms on sprocketless 35 mm film as a series of 12 parallel tracks reflected from a vibrating mirror. It was used to record some of the world’s oldest surviving radio broadcasts on Schenectady, New York radio station WGY between 1929 and 1931.
As a forgotten optical medium, I guess its more modern analog would be laserfilm discs. Sort of working along the right path, but just not practical compared to other media coming out at the time. There’s more about the rediscovered pallphotophone recordings on the GE Reports blog.
Interactive Audio Visual installation for
Mekanism’s “After School Special” art show
location: gray area foundation for the arts http://www.gaffta.org/
concept/construction : suryummy
visuals : suryummy
audio : suryummy, herbie hancock, various manipulated retro logos
software : VDMX
This is like a model of the world I wanted to live in when I was a kid, somewhere between Tron’s MCP mainframe world, Cybertron, and Marble Madness.