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?
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.
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.
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.
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.