Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

Videocassette Recorders: The Last Rewind

August 5, 2016

Videocassette Recorders: The Last Rewind

Hold on to your remote control, Grandpa. The last VCR has rolled off the assembly line. The only remaining Japanese manufacturer of VCRs, Funai Electric, maker of VHS machines sold under several brand names, has stopped making the gadgets. Those things wear out, so get over to Sears now and get one from the remaining stock if you want to be able to show the grand kids Mickey’s Christmas Carol again this December.

More:

“Last known VCR maker stops production, 40 years after VHS format launch,” Mark Walton, Ars Technica

“So Long, VCR. We Hardly Knew You (Were Still Around),” Gabriel Rosenberg, NPR 

“The VCR Is Officially Dead, But We’ll Never Forget It,” Brian Barrett, Wired

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New! The Sony Walkman.

January 8, 2015

New! The Sony Walkman.
Sony just introduced an exciting new portable audio product at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show: The Sony Walkman. No, not the tape cassette player that started the personal portable music era back 35 years ago. This is the $1200 Walkman NW-ZX2 High Resolution Audio Handset with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, 128GB of storage, a microSD slot, a touchscreen display, and Web connectivity.

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Earphones

March 26, 2013

Earphones

“In the 1890s, a British company called Electrophone created a system allowing their customers to connect into live feeds of performances at theaters and opera houses across London. Subscribers to the service could listen to the performance through a pair of massive earphones that connected below the chin, held by a long rod. The form and craftsmanship of these early headphones make them a sort of remote, audio equivalent of opera glasses. It was revolutionary, and even offered a sort of primitive stereo sound. However, the earliest headphones had nothing to do with music, but were used for radio communication and telephone operators in the late 19th century.”

–“A Partial History of Headphones,” Jimmy Stamp, Smithsonian blog [link added]

Budapest’s long-running Telefon Hírmondó (“Telephone Herald”) phone newspaper preceded Electrophone. It often featured live opera performances, and seems to have used stock telephone ear speakers.

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Japan: True Fax

February 22, 2013

Japan: True Fax

“Japan is renowned for its robots and bullet trains, and has some of the world’s fastest broadband networks. But it also remains firmly wedded to a pre-Internet technology — the fax machine — that in most other developed nations has joined answering machines, eight-tracks and cassette tapes in the dustbin of outmoded technologies.

Last year alone, Japanese households bought 1.7 million of the old-style fax machines, which print documents on slick, glossy paper spooled in the back. In the United States, the device has become such an artifact that the Smithsonian is adding two machines to its collection, technology historians said.”

“The Japanese government’s Cabinet Office said that almost 100 percent of business offices and 45 percent of private homes had a fax machine as of 2011.”

“’There is still something in Japanese culture that demands the warm, personal feelings that you get with a handwritten fax….'”

— “In High-Tech Japan, the Fax Machines Roll On,”  Martin Fackler, New York Times

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Image (“Faxing Wishes for the Star Festival, after Toshikata”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Computers: Back to the Future

July 22, 2012

Computers: Back to the Future

ENIAC, the first general-purpose computer, was built in 1946 and contained 19,000 glass vacuum tubes. Everything old is new again: Tube computers are back.

It seems that the materials of solid-state devices offer resistance to electrons, which slows down computing speeds. Electrons travel though a vacuum, though, with ease and great speed. New vacuum devices will be smaller, cooler, and more advanced, and the next generation of tube computers will weigh considerably less than ENIAC’s 27 tons.

More:

“I’ve seen the future of electronics and it’s … vacuum tubes!” Amara D. Angelica,  Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence

Hat tip: Orion Jones, Big Think

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Vacuum Tubes. They’re Back.

May 21, 2012

Vacuum Tubes. They're Back.

Remember vacuum tubes? Your grandpa will. Those glowing glass cylinders powered the Golden Age of Radio and made Fender guitar amps scream.There were great big picture tubes right smack in the front of old TV sets, too. Well, tubes are coming back, but they’re smaller.

Much, much smaller. The prototype vacuum channel transistor is 150 nanometers long.  A nanometer is 1 millionth of a millimeter; there are 25,400,000 nanometers to the inch. Why make these tiny tubes? electrons travel faster in a vacuum, and tubes resist interference from outside radiation better than semiconductors.

More:

“Return of the vacuum tube – on the nanoscale,” Nanowerk

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Image (“Our Analog Heritage”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Gadgets

March 23, 2012

Gadgets

“Guess what’s the fastest-adopted gadget of the last 50 years?” asks Alex Madrigal. Cell phone? CD player? Color television? Digital camera?

Nope. Boombox.

“Guess What’s the Fastest-Adopted Gadget of the Last 50 Years,” Alex Madrigal, The Atlantic.

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Image (“Etude de nu feminine avec boombox, after William Etty”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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