Sitting Among the Remnants of the Future

When I started in electronics, computers filled whole rooms, TV’s were giant boxes with tiny screens, and 8-track tapes were just starting to be replaced by cassette tape.  One of my first jobs was working in a factory that made floppy disks – 8 inch and we’d just started a line of 5 1/4 inch disks with an amazing 1.44 mb of space.

Likely I am one of the few people left on the planet who knows how to align a Shurgart 801 floppy disk drive.  A wonder of modern technology.  I was in the lab when the salesman brought in the first hard drive for a personal computer.  Today we call them a desk top, but back then they consumed the whole desk.

With each shift in technology – 8 track to cassette, floppy to hard disk, personal computer to tablet, a lot of old machines hit the scrap yard.  There’s a subindustry that feeds off the constant promise of the future by scrapping the past.  Each machine builds on the past and as the new replaces the past – the scavengers come looking for the constants of technology – steal, aluminum, copper, silver, gold, titanium, nickel, lead and all the precious metals that we constantly rearrange in our striving for a better future.

Today I went to my brother’s house to set up his new TV.  He’s handicapped and can’t do much, so I help out.  He doesn’t have a lot of money so the technology in is home is old, slow, and always one step from failure.  Recently he complained about his cable TV bill and asked if Netflix would be cheaper.  Of course that TV he was given ten years ago wasn’t up to the task.

So at half the cost of his last TV, I got him a new smart TV that could connect to Netflix and so many other things.  Another generation of modern technological marvels. Good thing I bought him a computer a few years ago because we needed it to set up the internet accounts he needs to get his Netflix.

I left him with a new remote and gathered a decade of dead and discarded remotes to add to the pile of electronic gadgets to send to the recycler.  Soon to be stripped down, melted and reformed in to new marvels.

Among these was a VCR.  I bought him that VCR in ’91. It was great, he could go to Blockbuster next door and rent movies.  Then he could record his favorite shows – wonders that this new technology brought.  At the time I gave him a gift of the future that now his house keeper was bagging up as trash.

Remnants of past futures.

Till next week,


About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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50 Responses to Sitting Among the Remnants of the Future

  1. A friend of mine has a room in his house where he displays what I call “past futures”. I love it. Old PCs games consoles, VCRs betamax. Each brings back a great memory of the past when we felt like we were stepping into the future as we set these gadgets up in our homes for the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margy says:

    I’m cleaning out my dad’s old electronics. He keeps saying “Maybe someone in the family could use this. I paid a lot for it!”
    We don’t have cable TV out here in the country. We did have satellite, but the content wasn’t worth the cost. So we cancelled it and bought a relatively cheap OTA receiver. Now we get the 3 free TV stations, and the picture is great!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. George says:

    I had an 8 track I kept in the garage until a few years ago. I used to play Bat Out Of Hell on an old 8 track tape the used to change tracks in the middle of a song. We thought it was great back then. I often wonder what the future will bring in terms of technology.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. inesephoto says:

    Our life is changing so rapidly, in many senses. In the next couple of decades these changes will happen even faster. I wonder what our grandchildren will witness. However, all these changes seem to be very market-oriented. I would rather welcome a positive change in the global wellbeing.
    So glad for your brother. You are very kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. G. J. Jolly says:

    A smart TV? Is there such a thing? If there is, I want to know more. My husband and I complain about cable all the time even though we know from experience it’s better than satellite.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sad but true. It’s sometimes hard to keep up.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Timelesslady says:

    If there’s one thing I miss it is VCR’s. One of these days I find the right way to transfer compilations of events that have been recorded on them to disc or Youtube.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t know…I kinda miss rewinding the tape on a cassette with a pencil…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Debra says:

    It’s truly amazing as you take me back to “marvels” I’d almost forgotten we once used! I do remember our first home computers and as slow as dial-up was, we thought the Internet connections were just incredible. How would we ever need more? I’m sure your brother must be thrilled with his new “toys” and the efficiencies they offer. I wonder what the next “new and improved” electronic marvel will next surprise us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think my brother likes his new toy – he hasn’t called me in a couple of days to complain about things. Dial up was slow, but the other day I heard myself say at work, “What? Their network connection is only 100mbs? That’s too slow – I can’t work with that.” Weird …


  10. floridaborne says:

    Wow! I love the way you wrote this.

    Having learned to type on a manual, I know how you feel. I wish Microsoft had stopped at Windows 7. For most of us, it’s enough. We only need the bicycle of computers, not the corvette. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • In 1974, at 14, I took a typing class and when I passed my dad bought me a used manual typewriter. I was the only guy in my computer class in 79 who could touch type. Moving the keypad to a tiny thing on a phone didn’t help me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • floridaborne says:

        Back then, guys didn’t take typing classes, and I commend you on your bravery (as well as youre foresight). I watch kids typing away on those tiny key pads and cringe.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My teachers asked my father to put my in typing class because no one could read my handwriting. And yes, I was the only 14 year-old boy in a class of girls who liked to wear short skirts and tight tops, but I bravely took the lessons everyday.

          Liked by 1 person

        • floridaborne says:

          LOL! How “brave” of you. 🙂

          I know what you mean about handwriting. I much prefer typing. In 1st grade, my teacher commented on my horrible writing.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Way back when I was operating a room sized computer my colleague tore her shoulder lifting out the disk platters. And oh the frustration of transmitting data via acoustic couplers! Compare that to being snuggled up in bed on a wet morning sharing texts with a bunch of people all around the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I believe that we have a generation of newborns—3 and under—who may not ever own a flash drive. The Streaming/Cloud generation.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. CJ Hartwell says:

    Brilliant and perfect use of the phrase that was stuck in your head. Isn’t it wonderful what happens when we let the muse take over? 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  14. dorannrule says:

    What a great brother you are! I was most impressed with that first but then got into reminiscing about the changes wrought by madhatter technology. Phew!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dave Foyle says:

    In grad school in the late ’70s, I used a PDP11 with RK05 hard disk removable platters. About 15″ across and white plastic, you opened the door to the computer and slid them in. They held a whopping 2.5 MB!!!

    The platter was bigger than about 4 or 5 laptops stacked on top of each other….

    Thank goodness I’ve archived all of my important papers, pictures, etc on removable 100MB Iomega Zip disks…. I have them safely squirreled away for use for future generations. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d forgotten about Zip disks – another “long term storage method.” I worked at a company in the 80s that had purchases CDC disk systems. Each was stack of 17″ platters giving about 100mb of space. These were big machines, we called them Kenmoor and Maytag since they were about the size of washing machines.


  16. Nice. You had me thinking about floppy discs and B drives and all that stuff. You’re a good brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One company I worked at had a computer with A,B,C,D floppy drives until the standard became: A&B were floppy, C&D were hard drives and E was the CD-ROM. That’s all been replaced by the cloud.


  17. I remember being thrilled when 8″ floppies went extinct and we got those tough and fabulous plastic 3 1/2″ floppies in bright happy colours; and they held SO MUCH DATA! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Yacoob says:

    Old is gold, though. I miss the simplicity of those days. When everything was less technologically connected, and there was more human connection. Less information.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pied Type says:

    You sound like my son trying to keep me and my electronics up to date. The old stuff keeps getting moved to the garage to make room for the new.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. dfolstad58 says:

    Oh Andrew, can I ever relate to the changes of technology, 8 tracks don’t seem so long ago

    Liked by 1 person

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