Retro Cool Technology

Andy44

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So I have a background in electrical engineering and have worked as an electronics tech once upon a time, and I am also a sci fi geek who grew up in the 80s listening to Yes, Rush, Tangerine Dream, (as well as Sabbath and other 70s heaviness) and all sorts of synth pop New Wave stuff while watching space shuttle launches and playing Atari video games, etc. etc. ad nauseum...

...and lo! I stumble upon this site, which is kind of like crack for 70s and 80s tech geeks: http://www.retrothing.com/

Old toys, movies, gadgets, musical instruments, on and on it goes. It's almost as bad as TV Tropes for hour-wasting mouse-clicking addiction. Just click on the "Space" section on the right-hand menu, and kiss your real life goodbye for a while...

...then come back here and talk about it so I don't feel like I'm the only retro-tech nerd in the house here.
 
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tl8

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Well Nixie Tubes were back in the past 3-4 years but everyone has run out so they have faded back again. Valves are making a bit of a comeback especially in audio amps. Luckily, the Russian still make them.
 

Andy44

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Well, tubes for guitar amplifiers have never gone out of production and are still common.

But I do remember our old console TV set, and my dad taking all the tubes out and going to the drug store to run them through that tube-testing machine in the hopes of finding an easy fix and avoiding a TV repairman bill. I also remember TV repairmen coming to our house. Those days are long gone!

By the 80s, almost anything with vacuum tubes was considered old fashioned and uncool. Except for guitar amps.

The ironic thing was that 1967's "2001: A Space Odyssey" showed flat-panel displays on board the spacecraft, but 1985's sequel "2010: Odyssey 2" showed space vehicles with cathode ray tube displays! Turns out the first film got that one right after all, even though flat panels seemed nearly like fantasy in those days.

Now it's nearly impossible to buy a new CRT. There is an video art piece in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC by a Korean artist named Nam June Paik which uses a giant wall of CRTs to create a wild colorful display. Whenever I see it I wonder how it will be maintained in the future as the CRTs burn out. If you replace them with flat panels I just don't think it will have that same glow and shine it gets with the glass tubes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9iIkomFeLk
 
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Artlav

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Well Nixie Tubes were back in the past 3-4 years but everyone has run out so they have faded back again.
It's just the beautiful colour of neon.


Nixie clocks are quite popular for it here.


Valves are making a bit of a comeback especially in audio amps. Luckily, the Russian still make them.
Not so much still make them as still have as much of them as dirt left over.

Valves are fun to play with, for some reason.
Here is a 555 timer blinking a neon indicator with a valve on my table right now - curious mix of generations.
 

4throck

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Well, I do have this radio on my living room and it works well.
Above all, it does sound great, specially if you connect a CD player to the line-in!
There are 4 speakers on that radio (2 woofers, 2 tweeters) although its mono.




Good tech is good tech, doesn't matter if it is obsolete or not.
 

Andy44

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I have an old "5-tube" radio I picked up at an antique store a year ago. AM only, works fine. I had intended to modify it so it could also be a small guitar amp, but based on my research it won't work as it's built since the guitar strings would be hot and thus insanely dangerous. To make it work would require extra modifications that I'm not ready to tackle. So for now it's just a cool old radio. Will post a pic when I get one...
 

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Robots!!...... SpAce?????? ....... TIMEPIECES!!!!!??????!!!!!!!



AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH! now I'll never get anything done
 

Andy44

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This is my old tube radio:



I'm pretty sure it was refurbished, as the paint on the metal case is nice and fresh and that handle on top doesn't look stock to me. But it works fine.
 

orb

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That's an actual image of my first computer, a ZX spectrum clone, immortalized in Wikipedia!
Either invert the colors of keys on the keyboard or make them grey (they weren't white for sure), and that's the computer from my primary school. :p

EDIT: Yeah, they were grey, like on this picture:
 

Andy44

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Well, this one is also retro:


That's an actual image of my first computer, a ZX spectrum clone, immortalized in Wikipedia!

Cool! My first computer was a Timex/Sinclair 1000. Still have it in the original box, still works last time I turned it on.

The RF out on it is very noisy, always has been; there is a mod you can do to these to tap the video signal directly and run it straight to the video jack on your TV, but I haven't gottten around to that yet.

 

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Insert disk. Switch machine on:



LOAD *.* ,8,1

Ahh, the good old days . . .
 

Izack

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I have a Commodore 64 sitting in a box somewhere around here. It doesn't work anymore, but it was a stately old machine. Older than me, anyway.
 

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Love the site, thanks for sharing!

The first computer I ever owned:


But not the first computer I ever used. That award goes to this beauty,

which used to sit on a mobile cart and rotate around to different classrooms week-to-week. I was in Kindergarten, and I became hooked on all things tech from that point on.
 

Urwumpe

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I have a Commodore 64 sitting in a box somewhere around here. It doesn't work anymore, but it was a stately old machine. Older than me, anyway.

My old Commodore C16 is somewhere in my parents attic. Right next to the complete Atari 1040 STF and the two half Atari Mega ST (both with fried Blitter chip).
 

Loru

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My first. I had slightly different monitor (1082) though and Datasette at first before my dad bought me a floppy drive along best invention for C-64 (Action+ cartridge that allowed me to save every game at any point)



Then there was Amiga 500+ with 1MB chipRAM and finally 486dx2/66 overclocked to 80Mhz
 
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Andy44

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But not the first computer I ever used. That award goes to this beauty,

which used to sit on a mobile cart and rotate around to different classrooms week-to-week. I was in Kindergarten, and I became hooked on all things tech from that point on.

When I got my Sinclair, a buddy of mine at school got one these TI-99s. Really cool machine from the days when Texas Instruments was near the top of the heap.

I have my dad's old Garrard record changer. He got this in the 60s or early 70s, and when I was a teenager he got a Technics and the Gerrard became mine. It works fine in manual mode, but the changer function doesn't work anymore. There is a repairman around here I plan on taking it to. You want to see cool retro-tech, you chould see the workshop that guy has!

 

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Speaking of the C64: here's our unit in action a couple of months ago.

Sadly that same day a couple of hours later it turned off the moment I pressed a button on the cassette deck and hasn't been able to produce an image since. When I turn it on the screen "moves" a bit from the usual static image, but not much else happens.
 

Matias Saibene

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What beautiful it was the older technology!. Although I had not known that time (of XX century), from what I've seen and heard, the XX century has made great technological advances (perhaps more than other centuries).
Without going any further, in the XX century you could go to the moon and now not.

:hailprobe:
One more example (although not be of technology) is the beautiful music of the 80's.
 
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