Friday, December 21, 2007

Analogjam

The first time I saw a plain-paper fax, I thought we'd finally reached Thee Future.

So, what item of run-of-the-mill technology once gave you a sci-fi-flavoured thrill that now seems faintly embarrassing?

19 comments:

Jun Okumura said...

I'm not going to tell you that it's the telly, because I don't want people to know that I'm the oldest person on the planet.

Chris said...

In a similar vein, I remember a school trip to our local newspaper office in the late '80s, and they had this typewriter-thing with big rubber cups hanging off it. You could attach a telephone receiver to this and send photographs from exciting and far off places (being a local rag, this probably meant Walsall).

Murph said...

I remember watching slack-jawed when Raymond Baxter demonstrated the first "Tele-Tennis" (I think Atari called it "Pong", which didn´t have a good response from the focus groups) on a TV set on "Tomorrow´s World". That was so much more impressive than the fact that men had been sent to the moon and back earlier.

When they showed the fax for the first time I said "That´ll never catch on".

dh said...

That would be the Simplex derailleur I think.

James said...

Minidisc players. The ability to have a smaller CD that was encased so it didn't scratch, and could record onto much like tapes seem like such a fab idea that it had me saving up to buy one.

For whatever reason they never took off though...

BiB said...

It was the fax wot did it for me too. I was so disappointed, though, when I heard the paper wasn't actually coming from Hong Kong or whatever far-flung place the fax was coming from.

Planes still vaguely thrill me, but I'm sure if I hadn't got a U in Physics O Level, I'd understand them better and be thrilled less.

patroclus said...

The trouble with working in the IT industry, like wot I do, is that you're forever having to write about the incredible and amazing things that technology will do for us in the far-off future, thus making all actually-existing technology seem footling and rubbish.

That said I remember thinking that Asteroids on the Atari was the most amazing thing *ever*, but this was when I was about 12 and my dreams of becoming the world's greatest archaeologist had not yet beem crushed by the dreary reality of becoming a writer of marketing brochures for accountancy software packages.

Blimey, I wasn't expecting that response to be quite so emotional. I blame the Lemsip.

Annie Rhiannon said...

I actually had a moment like this just yesterday looking at "digital photo frames" in Dixons. I'm already embarrassed about it.

Annie said...

I remember my flatmate at university going on about this internet thing. He seemed quite excited about it and said that everyone would be using it, all the time, for everything. How we laughed!

Tim Footman said...

A fine selection there.

But I'm so far out of the loop, I had to look up 'digital photo frames' to see exactly what they are.

They're really just an update of those awful hologram pictures, aren't they?

If you haven't done so already, check out paleo-future for more stuff about what now looked like then.

Charles Frith said...

Bizzare. I've had at least three encounters with Digital Photo frames in the last week. The last was a blog post that indicated they could be synced with Google Calendar.

Why not just use a computer screen then?

And now that I come to think of it the first digital display watch I had was awesome. My father, an electronics engineer ordered it via mail order from Germany where we lived in the 70's. Somebody club me before I start waffling on about the Hit Parade and the wirtschaftwunder.

patroclus said...

Ooh, Annie is right - my 1992-era boyfriend and his friend were always going on about this thing called 'the internet' and how it was this awesome mysterious global web of consciousness that we absolutely had to get on to as soon as possible. When I first actually came across it in 1995, it wasn't quite the mystical shamanic experience I'd been expecting.

WorldsAway on Compuserve was *way* ahead of its time, though.

Tim Footman said...

Charles: Why not just print out your photos and put them on the wall? Or am I missing something?

Patroclus: I'd first used e-mail in 1992, so I had an inkling of what was going on. But I do recall that the first time I ever used a search engine (about 1995, I reckon) I keyed in the words "Is Michael Portillo gay?" The results were instructive, to say the least.

Jun Okumura said...

Watching sumo wrestlers on (black-and-white) TV?

patroclus said...

I've thought about this some more, and I remember being quite bowled over the first time I used a self-service checkout in Sainsbury's. It talked to me and everything! It said 'Illegal item in bagging area', in the manner of Zen from Blake's 7 saying something like 'Intruders on level 4'.

Also, not long ago I paid a cheque in using the cheque paying-in machine at HSBC, and I was quite excited to receive a little confirmation slip with a tiny photocopy of the cheque I'd paid in on it. (Although the more paranoically-inclined probably see this great technological leap forward as a massive security risk).

Tim Footman said...

Do they look fatter or thinner in mono, Jun?

What would have happened if you'd then put the tiny photocopy back in the slot, Patroclus? A succession of progressively titchy, blurry cheques, until you get one that can balance on a pinhead. I think that's what they call microeconomics.

Geddit?

dinahmow said...

Maintaining voice-levels on a radio link while trying to comprehend the idea that technicians were at that moment finalising direct international dialling.

Tim Footman said...

Ah, I wish we could return to the days of Letitia Dean...

Charles Frith said...

Sod Letitia and Anglo nostalgia Tim. Think about the environment you could save with that digital frame!