Posts Tagged ‘dreamcast’

On Retrofitting and Vintage Technology

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve had anything to really say and what I saw this morning has to be one the craziest “inventions” I have ever seen. It compelled me to write and it made me think a bit and realise something. People really do care for the technology of the past.

Johan Van den Brande has written a twitter client for the Commodore C64. Which begs me to think – “Why?”. Why would you want to write a Twitter client for a 25 year old computer system.

I can understand why people write emulators and play games on them. That is driven by and generates a feeling of nostalgia. Nothing feels better than remembering your misspent youth. The C64, Amiga and finally the PC (once it caught up) all bring back warm and fuzzy feelings when I think about them but I’d rather play James Pond, International Soccer or
Pitstop on an emulator than waiting 20 minutes for it load off a tape or worse. Having it fail half way through.

With the above being said I must say that I’m in love with Super 8 film. I love the grainy texture and blown out colours but I definitely don’t want to work on making it capable of the picture clarity of modern HD cameras. I like it because of its warts not because I want to clear it of them.  That being said there is a lot of very capable people out there like Pro8mm who like Johan like to keep their favourite outdated technology up to date. It’s certainly stunning to see what the C64 and Super 8 are capable of.

This little project got me wondering about who else out there is actively keeping our favourite technology from the past up to date. So I spent a little time on the interwebs and tracked down some interesting projects – past and present.  Feel free to add some of your finds to the comments.

Grinnal Cars

These guys do some amazing work. Their car was based on the body of a Triumph TR7 a car first produced over 32 years ago. The TR7 was often ridiculed in its day, mainly because it was released minus the soft top (convertible) model and v8 engine it should have had.

Grinnal took the original concept and updated it for the nineties. By adding a body kit and a high powered engine they reinvented Triumph’s original idea. They made a car that even today has a modern look. That being said the TR7’s original design was edgy and even today people still think it’s only maybe 10 years old.

TR7 Grinnall Conversion

(Full disclosure: I actually used to own a TR7 and I loved it. They handle better than a gokart and when it was properly tuned I could keep up with most sports
cars from the 90s and 2000s)


Good old Disk Operating System (DOS). Forerunner of Windows and still essentially at the very heart of even Windows 7.0. A complete ripoff of CP/M which in itself is a shrunk down version of Unix it’s heritage goes right back to the 1960s. Not to be outdown by Unix and Linux which have no qualms about admitting that their family tree goes back for almost 50 years. Truly the most retrofitted operating system ever. There is a beautiful chart which demonstrates truly how inbred these systems are

Record Players and Records

For those of you too young to remember them the Long Play record known fondly as the LP all but died with the introduction of the Compact Disk (CD). While a few hard coreproponents of the LP held on with their adamanant fanaticism about the far greater fidelity of the LP – The rest of us moved in droves over to this new format that sounded far better than a tape and quite frankly was a hell of a lot smaller than a CD. Most people couldn’t tell the difference in sound quality. A few year’s after the first portable MP3 player hit the market in 1998 the audio cassette’s fate was sealed and it along with the already long dead LP fell in to distant memory. Long live digital music.

That was until 2007 when the RIAA, the fellows responsible for tracking sales and prosecuting music downloaders, noticed something strange. Record sales had previously hovered around one million units a year for the last few years, bottoming out in 2006 at 900,000 but the 2007 numbers were a real surpise – they had climbed to 1.3 million and by 2008 had
over tripled to 2.9 million units a year. Granted this is a blip in the scale of total music sales but the old, supposedly dead LP had done something amazing. It achieved a sales growth year on year of 120%. The same year CD sales dipped 25%.

This didn’t go unnoticed and audio equipment manufacturers for the first time in years have started releasing new turn tables. We’ll have to see where it leads but I think a format from the past might just have survived. All due to nostalgia. Oh and all the wanna be DJs out there.

Is there any technology from the past that you know of which is being kept up to date for the modern age?