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,