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Thread: Obsolete technology - some old, some almost new!

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    President Member garyash's Avatar
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    Obsolete technology - some old, some almost new!

    In my bottom desk drawer, I have some drafting sets and slide rules. Some belonged to me in high school and college, some to my father, and some to my grandfather (1890-1950). There are also some drawing pens, other drafting tools, and India ink from the same periods. How may people remember - or even knew in the first place - how to use them? I also found an early Kodak digital camera capable of taking 12 photos (640x480) before the memory filled. How about a 1.2 MB or 1.44 MB 3.5" floppy disk from a PC-XT or original Apple Mac ? I also have some real 3.5" floppy disks, both 180K and 360K, but no way to read them. In another drawer, I still have some IBM punch cards for a Fortran program listing. How about a paper tape from an ASR-33 teletype machine? I do have a 4-speed audio turntable capable of playing 78 / 45 / 33-1/3 / 16-2/3 rpm records, even has stereo RCA outputs. Do you have a 16-2/3 record? I have one, but lots of 33-1/3 vinyl disks. Do you have a hi-fi stereo amplifier? A VCR? A compact cassette recorder/player? I have a couple of old radios with tubes - and they still work on AM, one even on FM/long wave/short wave, though there are no longer short wave broadcast stations to listen to. It's amazing to me how technology I grew up with and even technology introduced when I was already an "older adult" is now completely obsolete. Kind of like Studebakers...
    Gary Ash
    Dartmouth, Mass.

    '32 Indy car replica (in progress)
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    web site at http://www.studegarage.com

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    Golden Hawk Member jclary's Avatar
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    Very thought provoking, Gary. Some call it progress...but I wonder??? As knowledge is gained, new technological developments occur, at what point do we begin to outpace the foundation of our progress and flounder? At what point does the weight of our technology become saturated with overlooked weaknesses and insufficiency leading to the next "Dark age?" Think about it...we are a mere apocryphal event from a major electrical grid failure that could completely paralyze huge populations. I don't spend hours worrying about it but have given it some thought. Here, in my rather stable southeast location, we I can't recall ever having much worry about earthquakes, although there is an account of the great Charleston, SC quake of 1886 in the history books. If such a disaster occurred here, my neighbors and I would be isolated to less than three miles in any direction due to bridge failures. With the progress of municipal water systems, very few have water wells, and those that do, are probably punched/drilled wells that depend on electrical pumps.

    We are fast becoming so dependent upon electrical energy, computers, calculators, "online" communication...that a protracted loss of this technological "progress," (dependency) and people begin to die. How many of us could take the tools you have pictured and know how to use them? Where is the knowledge to use a slide rule and mathematical formulas to engineer repairs in the absence of a computer program? Where is the local community general store where you could go to buy a shovel, bucket, rope, etc., to even begin to dig your own well? Heck, in some states, it is now illegal to attempt to dig a well without a permit!

    Perhaps, (again) it's just my morning coffee (caffeine)...but, hang on to your obsolete technology...it just might come in handy!
    John Clary
    Greer, SC
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    Golden Hawk Member 8E45E's Avatar
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    That Keuffel & Esser dust cloth brings back memories for me. We had an account with Nordraft Reprographics years ago, and they were the biggest K&E dealer for drafting supplies in the area at the time, as well as the being the largest Letraset agent.

    Some of us mentioned what we have for vintage radios here: http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...ogy-marches-on

    Craig

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    Golden Hawk Member 8E45E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jclary View Post
    Think about it...we are a mere apocryphal event from a major electrical grid failure that could completely paralyze huge populations. We are fast becoming so dependent upon electrical energy, computers, calculators, "online" communication...that a protracted loss of this technological "progress," (dependency) and people begin to die.
    At a recent home renovation show here, there were two or three stalls promoting/selling portable diesel generators designed for household use in the event of a power failure, and they seem to be getting popular. Admittedly, these are something one never saw at a similar show thirty years ago.

    Craig

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    Quote Originally Posted by 8E45E View Post
    At a recent home renovation show here, there were two or three stalls promoting/selling portable diesel generators designed for household use in the event of a power failure, and they seem to be getting popular. Admittedly, these are something one never saw at a similar show thirty years ago.

    Craig
    I have a portable generator that runs on LPG and we are seeing more of them locally. The beauty of them is the fuel never goes bad.

    I did recently convert to a 16KW Generac standby system that runs on natural gas so I don't need to get outside at three AM and start the portable generator in four degree weather in a snow storm.

    Anyone want to buy a low hour LPG powered generator at a deep discount?

    Bob
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    To address Gary's question, I have a few of those items.

    Slide rule with formed leather case with belt loop I used in high school.

    6 inch pocket slide rule also from high school

    Drafting compass set as above in a wood case with the arm extension for larger circles.

    Still have a couple triangular rule kicking around.

    Floppy and Zip discs are gone, data is stored on backup drives.

    I also have the four speed turntable but all the other parts are gone. I feed the output through a small amplifier/converter into my computer.

    A lot of 33 1/3 records but no 16's

    Still have all of my college technical textbooks gathering dust in the pole barn office. Anyone need any 50 YO plus Organic Chemistry, Physics or Diffy Q text books?

    Also have an industrial grade variable power microscope that I used on the job early in my career. Bought it at a company sale years back.

    Bob
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    Gary-
    You're right -- some of us are reluctant to part with stuff we depended on. I also have a drafting set, slide rule, India ink, engineering rulers, compact cassette recorder, stereo amplifier, 78/45/33.3 (not 16.6) turntable and several tube-type radios. I still have the radio that I was listening to for the 1951 Dodgers-Giants playoff game (ended by Bobby Thompson's "shot heard 'round the world") -- and it still sounds fine. I have had to purchase a couple of digital-to-analog converters to allow me to keep watching ancient TV sets. We have a couple of VCRs and actually still use them to record shows to take to Maine when we occupy a cottage with no cable or satellite and very limited broadcast TV coverage.

    I also have a pile of 3.5" discs and am trying to figure out how to re-activate an old computer to read them, as they contains some docs that I want to revise. One thing I still have that you didn't mention is a dial telephone.

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    Silver Hawk Member 52-fan's Avatar
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    Funny, I heard the song a few days ago with the line "don't know what a slide rule is for" and I was reflecting that most young people don't know what it is. I still use my old drafting tools on occasion. I haven't wanted to pony up the money for a computer drafting program.


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    Silver Hawk Member 53k's Avatar
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    I guess we are all about the same vintage. I have a bunch of drafting tools that belonged to my engineer uncle and I have his slide rule. I probably have some other things I don't remember, but will probably stumble across when I start dumping the stuff. I still have a battery powered portable radio given to me at high school graduation and a Sears clock radio that I bought in the late 50s. I kept my XP Sony desktop because it could handle floppies, CDs, and had RCA input jacks. It had a gigantic 80 meg hard drive. I always planned to copy phonograph records and such, but obviously have not and probably will not. I have never gotten around to taking my old Tandy computer or DOS laptops to recycle, but I still plan to. The Tandy had two floppy drives (total). I finally took out one floppy drive and installed a great big 20 kb hard drive.
    I got rid of my Teac reel-to-reel tape deck, an eight track tape player-recorder, some cassette player-recorders and several turntables and some other stuff I can't remember. Several years ago Jeff stopped at my house and loaded his trunk with the above goods. By the way Jeff, FWIW I found the manuals to most of the stuff. I'll be sending them to recycle one of these days.

    Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
    '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Avanti R-1, Museum R-4 engine, '72 Gravely Model 430 with Onan engine

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    Chief Cat Herder showbizkid's Avatar
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    Cool. I also have the drafting set I used in junior high and high school (although our schools called it "mechanical drawing"), as well as my T-square and drafting board. I also have the 1955 Hoffman clock-radio that sat by my bed as a kid (waiting for time on the workbench to re-cap and re-tube), as well as my father's set of wood-handled Yankee screwdrivers.

    I do not have my slide rule. I hated math But I loved English and still have my battered print copy of Roget's Thesaurus. Still comes in useful when I want to baffle someone
    Clark in San Diego
    '63 Standard (F2) "Barney"
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    President Member garyash's Avatar
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    Oh, so Skip wants the dial phones? How about before the dial phone? Here is a photo of phones at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House in New Bedford, MA. Someplace in my workshop I still have a small lock that can be inserted in one of the finger holes of a dial phone to prevent visitors from making a long-distance call. It's a left-over from college days. I'm sure my grandchildren (ages 8-21) would have no idea what it is for. Even into the 1980s, when I wanted to call my father, who was living on the eastern end of Prince Edward Island, Canada, I had to get a long distance operator and ask her to connect me to Souris, PEI, Southlake 27, ring 2 (party line). Even then, few operators knew how to do it. Last time you talked to a telephone operator?

    Gary Ash
    Dartmouth, Mass.

    '32 Indy car replica (in progress)
    '48 M5
    '65 Wagonaire Commander
    '63 Wagonaire Standard
    web site at http://www.studegarage.com

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    I have sitting at the side of my desk what would be regarded as a lower end professional video camera. In its day (2005) it cost $8,000. Even as short as 5 years ago it might have been a viable camera in a "lesser" market. However, it uses tape instead of SD cards, and while it makes a great picture it is Standard definition of the 525/29.97 variety. Today's cell phone while limited in lens function decidedly makes a better picture - especially in good to ideal lighting.

    It is a shame too. The camera primarily designed to record in the field was used in a studio application and there are ZERO hours on the tape recording mechanism. I got the camera off E-bay not being able to resist the $10 bid that won it. In fact it cost me twice that ($20) to have it shipped. $15 + $5 shipping also got the proper viewfinder. It is kind of like finding a nice clean Studebaker with very low miles and an engine with zero miles in a crate to go with it, but now everything runs on electricity or hydrogen. So, yes, I'll agree to that "... some almost new!" part.
    '64 Lark Type, powered by '85 Corvette L-98 (carburetor), 700R4, - CASO to the Max.

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyash View Post
    ... I'm sure my grandchildren (ages 8-21) would have no idea what it is for. ...
    Here is a You Tube link to two teenagers trying to use a dial phone (parents in the background getting a good laugh). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OADXNGnJok
    '64 Lark Type, powered by '85 Corvette L-98 (carburetor), 700R4, - CASO to the Max.

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    Chief Cat Herder showbizkid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyash View Post
    Someplace in my workshop I still have a small lock that can be inserted in one of the finger holes of a dial phone to prevent visitors from making a long-distance call. It's a left-over from college days.
    I remember these. I have one somewhere too. But you could get around them by rapidly toggling the switchook (if your fingers and mind were agile enough)!
    Clark in San Diego
    '63 Standard (F2) "Barney"
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    President Member Colgate Studebaker's Avatar
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    I too have many drafting tools used in Mechanical Drawing class back in '64, and my slide ruler and case with all the "graffiti" I adorned it with while bored in class. I have the dial phone from my dad's work with the # still attached BR1-6000 (which was the # of WTMJ tv and radio in Milwaukee). When we moved a few years ago I gave away all my turntables and tube radios etc. except my Teac reel to reel. I'm sure there will be a time when all of our "remembrance toys" will be recycled as our heirs will not be interested in them at all. Bill

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    I recently gave my dad's slide rule to my younger son, he was quite intrigued about how it works. It is a pretty amazing tool.
    Dan Peterson
    Montpelier, VT
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    President Member Jeff_H's Avatar
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    I am now 53. I have a few mechanical drafting tools I had to buy in College around 1987-88. I've never used that stuff in a professional way. I was doing some CAD mechanical drafting as a intern for a company at the same time and we were using AutoCAD on PC AT 286 and later 386 computers. The 386 had a 40MB drive! I have a slide rule, possible the same KE model in the bottom of the array in Gary's picture but don't have a clue how to use it (I did find the 100+ pg manual someplace online). It was acquired for $2 or something just as a display item. I still use my HP 28S calculator I paid $200 for in 1989. Does not get used much anymore though and I don't remember how to do 1/2 the stuff I used to use it for in college as we use other analysis tools at work so hand calculators don't see much use.

    5-1/4 floppies > 3-1/2 floppies > USB flash sticks. And, the flash sticks keep getting bigger. I think I have a old one that is 256MB around someplace and others that are 32GB.

    My current work issued laptop does not have a CD/DVD drive on it. Those are sort of going away now in favor of downloads from the internet if you need software, etc. I have a 1992 computer at home with the 5 & 3 drives on it that works if I need to do that for some reason, but not likely.

    I do actually have cassettes, some vinyl, VHS tapes and the working gear to play them on. 8 tracks were on the way out by the time I was old enough to care. I have a DVD player someone gave me but I think I used it once. I don't watch much "TV" or movies.

    A few weeks ago I grabbed a piece of equipment from the lab storage to check out something and this gear, about 10-12yrs old used a "CF" card for data storage where the newer ones are all "USB" flash. I think that gear sitting around due to that "obsolete" CF card as nobody has a reader on their laptop. I happened to have a card and reader at home I brought in so I could use that gear and get my data off it. The CF card was pulled out of a vintage HP digital camera I found in the recycling a few years ago. It works fine (the camera) for what it is but was I am sure tossed as obsolete.

    Jeff in ND

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    Somewhere in the grand mass that is my home library I have a book on how to use a slide rule. I bought the book for around a dollar along with a arm load of books and tech manuals at a used book shop near Lake Havasu decades ago.
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    I have all but one of the items that Gary A. mentions (the paper tape).
    I also have some other items, like silicon wafers from 1 inch up to 500 mm.
    I have a 33 1/3 recording of Bonneville runs in 1963/1964, among other records.
    The slide rule reminds me of about 30 years ago when I was asked to speak at a high school. I forget the exact reason, but it was science related. During my talk, I pulled out my 5 inch K & E log-log duplex, decitrig slide rule and said that not only the students probably didn't know what it was, but that their parents probably didn't know how to use it (it was a talk to students and parents).
    K & E used to have a factory here in Dutchess County, NY.
    I have one of those dial telephone locks. For awhile, I had an office adjacent to a cafeteria at IBM. In the morning my desk and office was a mess from second and third shift workers using it to eat their lunch and talk on my phone. The phone lock got them to relocate to another office (someone else's problem). Before too long, I got to where I had an office with a lock on the door.
    Gary L.
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    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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    Signed on to work road construction during the summer of 1973. Walked into the job shack & the foreman asked if I could read a slide rule.
    Yessir, no problem.
    -Good, you're now an engineer.
    And so can my brother. I blurted out seeing as he was standing next to me.
    -Alright, he's now an engineer.
    Kinda fibbed on that one but I gave him a crash course that night and we spent the summer sampling soils, weighing the the content, and filling in the data in report books vs. shoveling dirt, spreading concrete, and hot blacktop on 12 hour shifts. We still worked the 12 hours but it was far less tiring than the other laborers and as engineers we got paid $1.00 more per hour.
    "Every man I meet on the street is superior to me in some respect, and from that I can learn."
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    President Member Son O Lark's Avatar
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    I wonder how many of us know how to use the Ame's Lettering Guide in post #1 without looking it up on Google.

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    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    I still have most of my old drafting stuff around, including a drafting table with a 6' top. I must have 8 of the old triangular scales.
    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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    President Member 57pack's Avatar
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    We have a pair of rotary phones still in service. They do really baffle the grandkids!
    I still have my Remington portable typewriter from college days. I used it extensively back in those years. It still works well just needs a new ribbon set. And that search should prove interesting!
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