The neighborhood second-run movie theater, which is always on the verge of going out of business, finally scraped together enough cash to convert to digital projection. This weekend was the first digital run, and the old projector was sitting in the lobby waiting to be unceremoniously hauled to the landfill. I wonder how long it will take for this thing to go from a piece of junk to a precious cultural relic, just like a record player.

212 replies
  1. 1
    Joel says:

    Problem is that film costs way more than vinyl…

  2. 2
    Elizabelle says:

    Can you grab it? Would be awesome to have something like that, if you had the room. Pass it on to a cinephile or a film society.

    Don’t let them trash it!!

  3. 3
    Botsplainer says:

    You should have asked them if you could have it. 10 or 20 years from now, it will undoubtedly be worth money.

  4. 4
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    A relic like the 5.25 floppy disc or a 3.5 one. Anybody still got a Lisa?

  5. 5
    cleek says:

    i’d take it just to get the lenses in it! gotta be some serious glass in there

  6. 6
    MomSense says:

    I found a really nice turntable for my kids with great speakers and brought it home. They played Junior Wells’ Hoodoman Blues. It was like a revelation.

    I say grab the projector and save it. Real film has something digital can’t create.

  7. 7
    Jerzy Russian says:

    Those bulbs ought to be worth something, at least to a physics major.

  8. 8
    jayboat says:

    Definitely a decorator accessory, even if it never projects again.

  9. 9
    Lee says:

    I’d be more than happy to take it off their hands.

  10. 10
    Steeplejack says:

    Does anyone think digital projection looks “dimmer”—colors not as snappy and bright? I know this was an issue years ago, but I haven’t kept up. I wonder if it is the couple of theaters I go to most often cheaping out on projector bulbs (also said to be an industry issue).

  11. 11
    Central Planning says:

    Which theatre? The one on Goodman and Clinton?

  12. 12
    MomSense says:


    Digital seems “flat” to me.

  13. 13
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: I have a friend who has 8″ floppy disks, which really are floppy. He also still has the Kay-Pro that used them.

    I have a Zip drive and disks for it.

  14. 14
    evolved beyond the fist mistermix says:

    @Central Planning: Yep, the Cinema.

    I talked to the film nerd who runs concessions and he said I could have it for $50, because there are hundreds of them floating around the country.

    I’m not a “buy it now because it will be worth money in 20 years” person but if you live in Rochester and you want it, it’s at the Cinema Theater at Goodman and Clinton.

  15. 15

    I am picturing a future episode of Pawn Stars

  16. 16
    PurpleGirl says:

    I dislike digital TV. Voices are rarely synced to the actors speaking. It’s disconcerting to see no mouth movements yet hear speech and then to see the mouth movements with no sound. (I think this is because with digital the sound is in a separate file. On real film the sound was on a track alongside the image.)

  17. 17
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee:
    I just know there are people here who remember working with 8″ floppies. I did myself, some three decades ago. The company owned rubber and oil-palm plantations all over Malaysia, some of which have now been converted to other uses. In those pre-network days, we had a couple of guys who spent half their time driving up and down the Peninsula, collecting floppies full of production data and workers’ time sheets, and dropping off new blank floppies.

    Um. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. You should totally grab hold of that film projector if you can. You, or the rich dude who buys it off you, could build one heck of a home theatre system around it.

  18. 18
    PurpleGirl says:


    Definitely a decorator accessory,

    The term of art is conversation piece. Put it on a table where people will see it and wonder what it is.

  19. 19
    different-church-lady says:


    (I think this is because with digital the sound is in a separate file.

    Close — it’s not a file as such, but the sound does go on separate processing paths than the video and unlike analog some of that processing can add significant delays. It bedevils everyone in the industry, and can happen in a lot of different places in the broadcast or cable chain before it hits your TV screen. It’s also has more to do with 5.1 processing that being only a “digital” thing.

  20. 20
    different-church-lady says:


    Put it on a Use it as a table where people will see it and wonder what it is.

  21. 21
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:


    I think there’s something wrong with your setup. Do you see this when you’re out and about?

  22. 22
    different-church-lady says:

    @Amir Khalid: Hell, I’ve still got some BASIC programs on punch tape somewhere in the attic.

  23. 23
    Amir Khalid says:

    For connoisseurs of fast food, Mickey D’s is testing in the US “seasoned” fries: you put your regular McDonald’s fries in a paper bag, you put in “seasoning” from a packet, you close up the paper bag and shake it all about. Out here, we’ve had them for years as an occasional item. But be aware: McDonald’s really has only one flavour of seasoning for its fries: Vaguely Salty, which is given all kinds of different names and colourings.

  24. 24
    different-church-lady says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    For connoisseurs of fast food, Mickey D’s is testing n the US “seasoned” fries: you put your regular McDonald’s fries in a paper bag, you put in “seasoning” from a packet, you close up the paper bag and shake it all about throw it away.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  25. 25
    Pogonip says:

    @Amir Khalid: I started out with those; then came the little disks, and then thumb drives, which I still use at home but are banned where I work because Security (no, it doesn’t make sense to me either). I haven’t bought anything electronic in a while; I suppose the thumb drives are outdated now?

  26. 26
    Tokyokie says:

    That looks like a platter system projector, which wouldn’t be worth as much as a projector with vertical reel array. But theatres went to platter systems, for which the entire film is spliced into a single reel, so they wouldn’t have to pay trained projectionists. Unfortunately, the resulting reels are so heavy and cumbersome, they have to be arrayed horizontally, and that allows floating specks of dirt to stick to the emulsion side of the print, causing scratches. (That’s why, before digital projection, the prints of movies looked like crap if you didn’t catch a film early in its run.)

    @Steeplejack: I think digital projection is inferior to film projection. It’s like audiophiles who prefer vinyl to .mp3s. It’s analog vs. digital technology, and digital invariably involves signal compression and loss of fidelity or image. My hearing is not good enough to tell the difference with audio, but I can tell the difference with video. The image, as somebody else mentioned, is flat, and the colors are not as well differentiated. Unfortunately, the Hollywood studios have made digital projection unavoidable, and although I don’t like it, it’s better than watching a scratched-up print.

  27. 27
    Amir Khalid says:

    No need to apologise. That would work too.

  28. 28
    dmsilev says:

    @Pogonip: Thumb drives are still around, but the new fad is “in the cloud”. Send your data to Dropbox or whatever and then send your coworker a link or download it onto another device.

    I’ll stick with thumb drives for the most part.

  29. 29
    Pogonip says:

    @Amir Khalid: Do they spray sugar water on the fries in Malaysia? All the fast food places in the au.S. do that; the sugar water caramelizes and gives the fries the golden brown outsides that customers expect. I don’t like them because I am old enough to remember what real fries taste like; for me, potatoes and sugar water do not mix.

  30. 30
    Schlemizel says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    I remember when the company I worked with switched fro 8 inch drives to 3.5 drives. I was friends with the desktop support guy. He walked over to my desk one day to show me an 8 inch floppy stapled to a note says “This is the disk with the data I need you to transfer to 3.5 for me”

    Of course they had stapled through the disc itself.

  31. 31
    kdaug says:

    @PurpleGirl: Half my early work was archived on zip disks. I no longer have the zip drive.

    So much for posterity.

  32. 32
    danielx says:


    Got a Zip drive and disks, got a tape backup drive (120 megabyte tape cartridges, woohoo!)…sort of makes me wonder what else is in the box of miscellaneous computer stuff in the office closet beside extra keyboards, cat 5 cables, parallel printer cables….

  33. 33
    Pogonip says:

    @dmsilev: Oh, yes, I have heard management babbling about the Cloud; I doubt they’ll ever go for it in a big way because Security, but the babbling may precede limited dabbling.

  34. 34
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Amir Khalid: I just know there are people here who remember working with 8″ floppies

    I knew my first job was at a shit-hot, well-heeled, prep school because its Apple II’s were networked, (Corvus) and the main office was all Wang stuff, with the 8″ floppies.

  35. 35
    gene108 says:

    old projector was sitting in the lobby waiting to be unceremoniously hauled to the landfill.

    Why can’t they sell it for scrap? There seems to be a enough metal and glass in it that it could still have some salvage value.

  36. 36
    kdaug says:

    @Amir Khalid: I didn’t use rubber and palm-oil 8″ floppies. But I did have dual 5.5 drives on the Apple IIe.

  37. 37
    BD of MN says:

    @James E. Powell:

    I am picturing a future episode of Pawn Stars

    Or a future episode of Hoarders…

  38. 38
    Pogonip says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Hey! I took a class in Wang word processing. walked 10 miles uphill both ways to get to class.

  39. 39
    Amir Khalid says:

    Sigh. On a cheerier note, did you often do the trick to turn single-sided floppies into double-sided ones? If I remember right, it involved cutting a notch in just the right place on the edge of the sleeve.

  40. 40
    Dr. Omed says:

    I used to work as a projectionist in the 1980s. I worked at a theater that was built in the early 1930s and still had the original carbon arc projectors, as well as a more modern one with a xenon lamp. The senior projectionist and I would fire up one of the carbon arc projectors to screen reels of a film before assembling it on a two hour reel on the carousel to run on the xenon machine. The old projectors themselves were pretty much indestructible. 35mm film stock is not. It chemically degrades, becomes brittle with repeated showings. The theater showed second run films and the prints we got had seen a lot of use. I remember hauling the heavy films cans, crusted with old stickers, up the narrow stairs to the projection booth. Inspecting the film, splicing breaks, fixing sprocket tears and such was a big part of our job. I haven’t been up to a projection booth in decades, but even back then automation was taking over. Multiplexes had platters set ups, not reels, and one projectionist could run a dozen screens basically as a button pusher, unless something went wrong. Now, “movie projectionist” is an obsolete, not to say archaic profession.

  41. 41
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Looks like digital “flatness” is going to be the curmudgeonly complaint about projection, like the lack of “warmth” in digital audio.

  42. 42
    Professor says:

    Now this reminds me of the idiom: A wealthy person’s cast off (2nd hand) is known as ANTIQUE, but a poor person’s cast off is known as JUNK.

  43. 43
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Record players sucked too. Holler if you remember replacing needles. The only issue is some really good classical recordings never made it to CD.

    No I don’t have one but I know who does. In another state. If I have the need to hear it again.

  44. 44
    Amir Khalid says:

    Wang went from computer industry giant to belly-up — oh my goodness, it was 25 years ago. How time flies.

  45. 45
    danielx says:


    Of course they had stapled through the disc itself.

    Of course they did. Back in the dark ages when I was doing desktop support, I got calls of such surpassing stupidity that a facepalm just didn’t cover it. What was required was something like the Ice Cream Kid on the inside cover of a Grateful Dead album – two dips on a waffle cone jammed straight into the forehead. My personal favorite was getting a call from a seriously irate big swinging dick executive type who wanted to know where his Lotus spreadsheet (yes, that long ago) was, since all that was showing on his screen was empty cells with letters going across the top and numbers going down the side. After a little discussion it turned out that the problem was that he hadn’t created any spreadsheets, nor did he have any knowledgeable underlings to create them for him – he just expected them to, like, magically be there. And that if he wanted to create them himself, he was either going to have spend time learning how to use Lotus on his own (not all that hard), or spend time attending a class on Lotus. Neither of which was possible for him, his time was too important and big swinging dicks don’t need to learn anything new anyway, they already know everything that is really important…using a keyboard was something for geeks and secretaries.

    The good old days…

  46. 46
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Amir Khalid: I don’t remember doing that but I do remember putting tape over the notch.

    Steve Jobs was correct to banish them from the land. Whoever stuck a floppy in a cartridge was a god damned genius. And then the 3 1/2 in double high density came out. Booyah!

  47. 47
    Another Holocene Human says:


    using a keyboard was something for geeks and secretaries.

    It’s funny how that’s changed … bosses writing their own inarticulate emails. Good times.

    They still have people to do spreadsheets for them, of course.

  48. 48
    Dr. Omed says:

    Hell, I’m so old, I learned to program in Fortran IV using punch tape, dialing up the mainframe on a teletype terminal. Take that, all you floppy people.

  49. 49
    kdaug says:

    @Amir Khalid: I poke at fast food on rare occasions (think road trips), but I don’t get this concept at all. So you have to finish the cooking? I mean, I suppose it’s one way to shave costs, but sooner or later someone’s going to get salmonella from some half-cooked “Finish It Yourself!” chicken thing and sue the shit out of them.

  50. 50
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Schlemizel: So painful. Such stupidity. Wow.

    Now I know why post-its were the killer app!

    Of course, we all know people who tried to mark their CDs on the burn edge and not on purpose. (There was a time when you could “fix” DRM’d Sony music CDs by running a marker around the circular edge and basically blacking out the DRM code. I never did that because I only had a budget for Laserlight back then.)

  51. 51

    I can has a hug? Just done with meeting my super difficult MIL right now, and she literally blamed me for everything bad that has happened in the family because I did not perform some religious ritual or other elebenty years ago, since it clashed with my master’s thesis defense and she has some more rituals planned and wanted my OK for it.

  52. 52
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    I really like backing up my stuff to Dropbox. I’ve had way too many close calls otherwise.

  53. 53
    MomSense says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:


  54. 54

    @MomSense: Thanks, I misses my home and really need my kittehs.
    -Jetlagged Zombie.

  55. 55
    Amir Khalid says:

    Don’t know about sugar water; the only thing I’ve ever seen McDonald’s workers put on the fries is too much salt. The other fast-food people fry theirs up in the kitchen and bring them out already done, so no way to tell with those.

    You get the fries already cooked as usual. Then you shake’em up in a (provided) bag with the provided “seasoning” which, as I’ve noted, looks and tastes vaguely salty, rather like BBQ-flavoured Cheeto dust. That’s about the only difference.

  56. 56
    Tokyokie says:

    @Dr. Omed: I went to a sneak preview years ago, and in their haste to get the print ready, the multiplex crew had managed to splice in the third reel upside down and backwards. (Don’t ask me how.) The manager kept returning to the auditorium and reassuring that the problem would be fixed in a few minutes, but after about his third visit, I turned and looked into the projection booth and saw that the dope literally had a pile of unspooled film that reached to his shoulders. I turned to my companion and said we wouldn’t be seeing the rest of the movie that evening, and a few minutes later, the manager reached the same conclusion.

    I miss not seeing the spot in the corner of the print that indicated it was time to turn on the second proector. Sigh.

  57. 57
    CaseyL says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Hugs, kiddo; and hang in there.

    What kind of “rituals”? I’d be kinda nervous about participating in any led by someone who thinks I’m to blame for all the bad stuff.

  58. 58
    glory b says:

    Since it’s an open thread, Bundy supporters are having an illegal ATV ride through a Native American protected heritage site which is ecologically fragile only in irder to defy the feds. They will be accompanied by at least one county commissioner who said he wants to show DC who really controls the area.

    A Native American welcome home ceremony for returning veterans had to be cancelled.

  59. 59

    @CaseyL: Oh she won’t lead them, the family priest will. I am nervous though and I haven’t said yes.

    Rituals are some orthodox South Indian Brahmin stuff.
    There will be fire and chantings in Sanskrit. Think of it is as the puritanical version of Hinduism not the touchy feely new agey kind.

  60. 60
    Sawgrass Stan says:

    Jaysis– I ran those things for a few years while I was in college, and after (yes, I was in the union.) There are actually film collectors that have film collections worth thousands, and some even specialize in 35mm– got to be lots of material coming onto the market now. Grab that bad boy and put it on eBay!

  61. 61
    bemused says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Here is opportunity to bring your own salt mill with your favorite trendy salt.

  62. 62
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Hug hug hug hug hug hug hug! {{{{{{{schrodinger’s cat}}}}}}}

    (Love your Mother’s Day Kittehs!)

  63. 63
    Cassidy says:

    Lucky for this thread, I’ve got a brand new bag of onions. You gotta provide your own string, though.

    @schrodinger’s cat: That sucks and it’s bullshit.

  64. 64
    JoeC says:

    @evolved beyond the fist mistermix: There’s a cool theater in Old Forge that has a lot of the really vintage equipment, you see it when you walk in…Nice old fashioned theater too…

  65. 65
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @glory b:

    Okay, this shit has stopped being cute.

  66. 66
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Dr. Omed: A Teletype terminal? What, no keypunch machine and cards? Which is how I started out. Or did punch tape come first?

  67. 67
    RSA says:


    Put it on a table where people will see it and wonder what it is.

    “Easy-Bake oven of the future?”

    I learned how to use a projector working for my college’s senior class film series back in the 1980s. (A friend and I once got the reels out of order; I suspect, given the movie and the audience, not everyone realized it before we stopped and put things right.) But I’d have no clue about this machine. Pretty cool.

  68. 68

    @glory b: The bully boys need to be arrested.

  69. 69
    Cassidy says:

    @glory b: Maybe it’s time for some second amendment remedies. I’d like to take our country back from these yayhoos.

  70. 70
    dmsilev says:


    I miss not seeing the spot in the corner of the print that indicated it was time to turn on the second proector. Sigh.

    Once I learned of the existence of those spots, it became impossible for me _not_ to notice them.

  71. 71
    Sourmash says:

    Does anyone have the problem I do with hd/digital, which is that it looks too clear and the lines are too perfect? I like film because it has a hint of the gauzy, dreamy world that films inhabit in my mind. Not the icy clarity of pure daylight.

  72. 72
    Anoniminous says:


    Eric Cantor was booed in his home district …

  73. 73
    scav says:

    How about the external tape drive on early apples? Cassette tapes? Might have been the same time we had the flying pizza disks on the self assembled DOS box. Infinite number of Monkeys.

  74. 74
    Baud says:

    @glory b:

    who said he wants to show DC who really controls the area.

    Challenge accepted.


    He should be booed by his mama.

  75. 75
    Schlemizel says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    I know I notched them to make them write protected.
    I worked for Honeywell at the time & honeywell single platter drives came in single sided & double sided. The doubles held twice as much data and cost about 2/3rds more. WHile doing work on one I discovered the jumper that in the circuit that made them double sided when removed. My boss thought I was a genius because I doubled out storage for free.

  76. 76
    Walker says:

    Finger Lakes Drive-In in Auburn has been trying to get a difital projector, but does not have anywhere near enough money. Right now they are limping along getting 35mm whenever they can. But this might be there last summer.

    The drive-in in Rome already closed for good this summer because it could not get a projector. Elmira got a digital projector, but it is not as nice a drive-in as Auburn.

  77. 77
    dmsilev says:

    @Schlemizel: A long time ago (though right here on Earth), IBM sold big fast printers designed to hook up to their mainframes. They came in models of Fast and Faster, and Fast could be field-upgraded to Faster. The field upgrade consisted of a technician coming out and cutting a single resistor out of circuit.

  78. 78
    Tokyokie says:

    @dmsilev: Me too. I didn’t notice them until a theater manager who was a friend pointed them out to me, adding that once I began noticing them, I’d never not notice them. He was right.

  79. 79
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Tokyokie: As someone earlier in the thread pointed out, one of the main reasons movie theaters went to automation was “save” on the cost of hiring trained projectionists. When managers are running the projection booth, they do things like manually disable the automatic failsafe. I’ve dealt with a projection booth full of unspooled film myself.

  80. 80
    Schlemizel says:

    @Dr. Omed:
    I was a projectionist 2 nights a week in a tiny town back in the early 70s. We got films long after they had been popular & I learned to splice film like a pro.

    You had to have 2 projectors since reels only held 15 minutes of film. Those little white dots you see in the corner of movies was the visual signal the reel was running out & you timed the switch over to the other projector. Switching back and forth that way to get through the whole movie.

    You end up seeing the same movie a half dozen times & learn things – Dirty Harry fires 7 times in the final chase scene before asking the famous question & then putting number 8 into the bad guy from his 6 shooter. There are 2 separate car chases in The French Connection (a dreadful movie), they happen to start toward the end of one reel and the second starts at the end of the next reel. It is possible to remove the 15 minutes contained on that reel from the movie, so there is only one car chase, and have nobody notice.

  81. 81
    chopper says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    oh FFS. nothing like the religious when it comes to senseless guilt.

  82. 82
    Pogonip says:

    @glory b: Jerks. What about the Indians and their right to hold their ceremony? Couldn’t these assholes ride ATVs on the land on one of the other 364 days in the year?

  83. 83
    gbear says:

    @Tokyokie: The first time I saw 2001 A Space Odyssey, my cub scout troop went to the Cooper Theater in St.Louis Park, MN, the only Cinerama theater in town, and it was mindblowing. The second time I saw it was at a neighborhood second run theater with a tiny screen and a horrifyingly scratched-up print. I was embarrased for telling my friends how good it was, and I fell asleep during the movie.

    I wouldn’t think about buying the projector in hopes of being able to use it – the films will never be availalbe. At least with a turntable you can pick up stuff you like in decent shape for under $5.00. The most expensive upgrades you need to make are the cartridge and maybe a phono preamp, and you can get those in the $150-$200 range if you’re not a purist. A good non-purist turntable and cartridge can be had for under $500. Now and then I browse the Needle Doctor website and I’m just amazed at how ridiculously expensive this stuff can get.

  84. 84
    Schlemizel says:



    The other headdesk moment was when he asked a guy to send him a copy of the disc he wanted something done with . . . . you know wha comes next . . . . the guy sent a xerox copy of the physical disc. OY

  85. 85
    Anoniminous says:


    He should be booed have his face rearranged with a brick by his mama.


    @glory b:

    Bundy and his supporters are spoiled brats who need to have a Time Out.

  86. 86
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    Back in early internet start up days if you knew anything then you did everything. The secretary of one of our VPs was having trouble with her printer, she was always having trouble with her printer. The evening prior we’d installed a brand new, top of the line printer for her and tested it rigorously. Nonetheless, “My printer doesn’t work,” first thing in the morning. So, I go to her office and asked “What’s it doing.” She started printing some document and when the sheet of paper was about halfway out she grabbed it and yanked it out of the printer. Holding the smeared sheet up she said, “See!”

    Yes, the good’l days.

  87. 87
    SectionH says:

    @Sourmash: Oh yes. I hate hd/digital. It just looks… wrong. It certainly doesn’t look like “reality.”

  88. 88
    scav says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: Well. [paper] tape was at Dad’s work, but I’d be hard put to know if it or cards was earlier. Depended a bit on venue. They were still using Fortran plus Cards at High School when were been floppies at home for a while.

  89. 89
    Schlemizel says:

    Nice – makes me wonder why they sell the slower / smaller ones. I assume just to create the market for a more expensive one.

  90. 90
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Pogonip: IN A SNOWSTORM!

  91. 91
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: “My computer’s cup holder isn’t working right…”

  92. 92
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason: I’m not sure, but I think you got me beat. When I was a kid, my father worked for a 3M affliate. He used to bring home obsolete electronic equipment for me and my sisters to play spaceman with. Remember vacuum tubes?

  93. 93
    scav says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: We’re getting into labelling the any key territory now.

  94. 94
    Steeplejack says:


    If you’re talking about your TV, that’s a well-known phenomenon that you can fix. Shorter: turn off “motion enhancement.”

  95. 95
    Mark B. says:

    @dmsilev: They had a similar upgrade path for some of the mid-grade mainframes. The field upgrade consisted of a technician putting a disk into a drive on the mainframe that loaded new microcode with fewer sleep cycles. The disk was kept in a briefcase that required special keys to open. I’ve also heard that the tech had to travel with the briefcase chained to his wrist, but I think that part may be apocryphal.

  96. 96
    Ash Can says:

    @Anoniminous: LOL. The idiot does everything he can to whip up right-wing extremism, then he’s shocked and amazed when his monster turns on him. I wonder if the FSM loves us — and the nation — enough for Cantor to lose in the primary next month.

  97. 97
    Schlemizel says:

    @Dr. Omed:
    Hell, the first computers I repaired had vacuum tubes.

    There was a model of line printers that would kindly let you know when they were running out of paper by opening the top automatically. I saw the results of programmers leaving their punch card decks on top of these printers “just for a moment”. I could laugh, I didn’t have to resort the cards!

  98. 98
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Schlemizel: Yes, at the theater I worked at, we still had two carbon arc projectors designed to work in tandem as you describe, but we only used them to screen reels before we assembled the film. We used the xenon projector which ran off two hour reels on a carousel when screeening a film for a paying audience.

    And yes, I know what you mean about seeing the same film over and over.

  99. 99
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Schlemizel: Yes, at the theater I worked at, we still had two carbon arc projectors designed to work in tandem as you describe, but we only used them to screen reels before we assembled the film. We used the xenon projector which ran off two hour reels on a carousel when screeening a film for a paying audience.

    And yes, I know what you mean about seeing the same film over and over.

  100. 100
    Schlemizel says:

    @Ash Can:
    The scary part would come if the asshole got elected – imagine the depths of stupidity you would have to plumb to be “more conservative” than Cantor.

  101. 101
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Dr. Omed: Hell yes, I’ve got vacuum tubes in my guitar amp. My dad was an electronics engineer and we had all sorts of stuff all over the basement. He built our first color TV from a Heathkit.

  102. 102
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mark B.: So, the “upgrade” was basically to take the governor off the engine.

    I’m sure the “upgrade” that was billed to the customer was in the five figure (or more!) range.

  103. 103
    Schlemizel says:

    @Dr. Omed: I don’t think xenon had been discovered yet, most of the time we just sat outside the cave & banged the rocks together. It took some skill to get the carbon rods set correctly and you had to pay attention that they burnt evenly as well as for reel changes. No way they could run those 10 bin suburban movie dumps with one projectionist in those days.

  104. 104
    scav says:

    @Schlemizel: I will freely and abjectly admit to a jealousy over the tube boxes. Those things are just pretty. The little wirey gizmos with tiney stripes and the miniature water tanks, not to forget the centapedes were all very fun to watch going in, but tubes? Fussy and cool.

  105. 105
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Anoniminous: What I loved was his explanation of why this “academic” shouldn’t replace him. About how hard he and his fellow dipshits are “working” in DC.

  106. 106
    CaseyL says:

    @dmsilev: There was a Columbo episode – a very good one, too – where seeing the spot on the film was a clue in timing when a murder was committed. The murderer’s alibi was that she was in the projectionist booth helping change the reel, rather than in the studio executive’s office shooting him.

    That was when I first heard about the Magic Spot and, like you, kept looking for it in every movie afterward.

  107. 107

    Reading the original article, the GOP’s party apparatus – the head organizer, the one who defines ‘establishment’ – was just taken over by a teabagger who thinks Cantor’s too squishy. They kicked out Cantor’s hand chosen guy. The 2014 election in Virginia is about to get mighty weird.

  108. 108
    Amir Khalid says:

    Liverpool scored all three goals in a 2-1 home win over Newcastle United to end the English Premier League season in second place. We’d come within a whisker of securing our first top-division title since 1990, which was before the Premier League era. I has a sad, but only a little sad. Now we’ve got to do something about that defence, which cost us enough points to let the title slip away.

  109. 109
    scav says:

    Ah, and actually getting to watch a film melt in real time? Glad I got to see that once. No idea why. (granted, it was a dull movie)

  110. 110
    PurpleGirl says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Hope the thread is still alive and you’re still here…


    Reposting from the last thread:

    That is an adorable picture of the cat and her kitten..

    Here’s one of the kitten cams I watch, maybe it could help you feel better while you’re without your own kittehs. In this room are 3 related momcats and 11 kittens. The shelter is in northeast CT. They are freaky kittens because of mixed up bloodlines and relationships between the moms and the dads. The two black-n-whites are from the same house but not the parents. (Is a long story.)…..akykittens

  111. 111
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Schlemizel: I once hauled in old black and white tube tv home from the alley just so I could plug it in and smell the hot metal and ozone as the vacuum tubes heated up. That is a smell from my childhood. That, and to watch the picture collapse into a dot on the cathode screen when I switched it off. Any who complains about digital image quality doesn’t remember the picture quality on those old black and white cathode ray tube tvs.

  112. 112
    Stan of the Sawgrass says:

    @Tokyokie: those spots are “changeover cues.” There are two, ten seconds apart– you turn on the second projector at the first dot, then make the changeover at the second cue. BTW, they became mostly irrelevant when “platterization” came in– all the reels were spliced together onto a large horizontal platter arrangement.
    I’ll never forget going into the bathroom after eating some mushrooms, looking into the mirror and seeing a ‘changeover cue’ flashing just over my head.

  113. 113
    WereBear says:

    @danielx: Back in the day, I arrived at my new job and was given a fistful of pencils and one of those room sized bookkeeping sheets for me to create the analog version of a spreadsheet.

    Well, there was a Commodore PET right there in its own desk, and when I opened the drawer in that desk, there were 8″ floppy disks and the manual for Lotus 123. So I installed it, learned it, entered all the data, and printed it out, all in the same day. And left it on the boss’s desk.

    When I arrived at work for my second day, there was an uproar. The boss had claimed the program was waaaaaay too complicated to a human to work, and I’d shown him up… so he had to declare me a Computer Genius and give me a tiny raise.

    Hee hee.

  114. 114
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Schlemizel: Yes, indeed, on setting the carbon rods. All modern technological innovation has as one of its primary goals the elimination of skilled workers.

  115. 115
    WereBear says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: [[[[[hugs]]]]]]

    Man, I feel the MIL craziness. But believe me, that whole Cask of Amontillado thing ain’t the way to go, no matter how tempting.

  116. 116
    Steeplejack says:


    Bill Morrison’s Decasia (2002) is a really great avant-garde piece made out of damaged, “found” film. Possibly the trippiest thing I ever saw on TCM.

  117. 117

    @WereBear: What is the gist of the story? I have not read it.

  118. 118
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Dr. Omed:

    35mm film stock is not. It chemically degrades, becomes brittle with repeated showings.

    Plus, lovely as a pristine 3-strip Technicolor print can be, they deteriorate in really weird ways. In film school, we saw a print of Pillow Talk that basically had a red haze over the entire film that came and went, depending on how each reel had been stored.

    Ed Catmull from Pixar has a new “management” book out and one of the cautionary tales is about how someone accidentally deleted the entire file of Toy Story 2 when the film was almost complete by typing the wrong command into Unix. And the backups turned out to be corrupt and unusable. The only thing that saved their asses was that it turned out that, totally against company policy, one employee had copied the files to her home computer so she could work at home while on maternity leave.

    (And, no, the guy who typed in the wrong command was not fired. They figured there was really no reason to punish him since it had been an honest mistake and he was otherwise a good employee. He felt really awful, though.)

  119. 119
    Mnemosyne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    “For the love of God, Montresor.”

    It’s short and worth reading. Edgar Allan Poe.

  120. 120

    Thanks so much for all the hugs, I am feeling much better now. I much prefer the vicious jackals of the comment section to sanctimonious godbotherers.

  121. 121
    scav says:

    @Steeplejack: Some of that looked solarized. How’d that happen?

  122. 122
    Schlemizel says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Reading comprehension – I read that but it didn’t sink in

  123. 123
    Schlemizel says:

    @Dr. Omed:

    There is a Simpson’s joke in there about losing “employee of the month” to a carbon rod. But you sure are right.

  124. 124
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Schlemizel: A friend was working at the support desk for a national insurance company. Someone from a branch office called the head office, got my friend and complained about having a problem. My friend began talking her through it and the lady actually said “I don’t see an any key.” My friend wanted to pull the lady through the phone cord and hit her over the head.

  125. 125
    Mnemosyne says:


    It happens when the film gets stuck in the projection gate (which is the spot where it pauses for a split second in front of the lens). The light had to be so hot to show through the celluloid that, if the film got caught, it could burn.

    Just be glad they switched to “safety” prints that were not made of nitrate. Nitrate is highly flammable and whole projection rooms could catch on fire.

  126. 126
    gene108 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Rituals are some orthodox South Indian Brahmin stuff.
    There will be fire and chantings in Sanskrit. Think of it is as the puritanical version of Hinduism not the touchy feely new agey kind.

    Stuff led by a priest is usually low involvement by the audience. You just have to sit and chill out. There are pooja’s, when half the audience isn’t paying attention to the priest anyway, depending on how many people are invited.

  127. 127
    Riley's enabler says:

    I’ll see your fancy Zip drives and raise you an antiquated SYQUEST drive.

    Oh yeah. First job out of school, we stored everything on them. We ruled the graphics world with 44 megs of storage, baby.

  128. 128
    WereBear says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: It’s an Edgar Allen Poe story where the protagonist bricks his enemy up in a basement.

    Not that I was ever (ahem!) tempted.

  129. 129
    Steeplejack says:


    It’s all physical/chemical decomposition of the original film stock.

  130. 130
    Schlemizel says:

    @Dr. Omed:

    I had a neighbor once that collected old TV, he had some from the very earliest days. One day he calls me to come over to see the gem he just picked up at a garage sale. Not sure if Muntz was a national brand or just local, they made cheap, crumby gear & pushed it hard on local “Matinee Movie”.

    This was a Muntz black & white, on the back was the largest tube socket I have every seen 80-90 pins. Written on back around the socket was, “FOR COLOR ADAPTER WHEN AVAILABLE”. Imagine this was the early days of color & you didn’t want to spring for the expensive option when most shows were still black and white but you still wanted to protect the investment. I can write that sales pitch myself.

    We spent a happy hour or two tracing the 70-80 wires from it – they all ran to different places physically but chassis ground electrically.

  131. 131
    gene108 says:


    The scary part would come if the asshole got elected – imagine the depths of stupidity you would have to plumb to be “more conservative” than Cantor.

    Cantor is Jewish. It would not be hard to find a true Christian replacement, who would be a True Conservative. And yes, anti-Semitism may well be playing a role in Cantor’s fall from grace.

  132. 132
    danielx says:


    Yeah, there was a lot of that going around back in the day – all of a sudden people became essential who up to that point had been treated like shit on some executive’s shoes, simply because they knew how to boot a dual floppy machine and knew a few Lotus commands.

  133. 133
    scav says:

    @Mnemosyne: hmmph. Film is just so nicely weird. Didn’t know that could happen so late after all the chemical bits. Burning I get, mold, water damage, but this other?

    Makes me think of the Shackleton photos they managed to find and develop. (ETA or recover, I forget which. Still, tough as well as fragile. nicely weird again.)

  134. 134
    danielx says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I much prefer the vicious jackals of the comment section to sanctimonious godbotherers.

    Who wouldn’t? Although you gotta admit it’s not setting a very high bar….

  135. 135
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    And yes, anti-Semitism may well be playing a role in Cantor’s fall from grace.

    Well, technically, since he’s Jewish, he was never in a state of grace to begin with.

    While I detest anti-Semitism, I fully approve of anti-assholism, and that would include Cantor. Well, also, too, all his teahadi opponents, who should be rounded up, loaded into cattle cars, and shipped to Cape Canaveral for “resettlement” on Ganymede.

  136. 136
    opiejeanne says:

    @Schlemizel: madman Muntz sold tvs in Los Angeles in the 1950s. He may have sold some with his name on them, made by one of his suppliers.

  137. 137
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Schlemizel: By the way, where do vacuum tubes in your guitar amp come from? Don’t think they make them in the States anymore. When I was a kid Supermarkets had tube testers because tubes burn out just like light bulbs (used to).

  138. 138
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne: Let me guess…they did punish the woman who saved their asses by violating company policy, though…

  139. 139
    Randy P says:

    Finally got around to seeing Cinema Paradiso a few years ago. Kid growing up in an Italian village, falling in love with film in the little village movie house where the celluloid film stock has a nonzero chance of catching fire and burning the whole thing to the ground. Now projectionist was an interesting job in THOSE days.

    As for old computer stories, I learned to program on punch cards, on the IBM/370 mainframe. And at one point I was doing a lot of work with data on magnetic tape, which were kept back in the computer room and only the operators had access too. Some of them hated dealing with tape, some loved it. You learned which shift had the guys that liked tapes.

    I was discussing paper tape with somebody the other day, and pondering the amazing change from the days where the idea of a computer producing a picture (by sending overstrike characters to the ASCII-only printer) was a novelty. I had a paper tape with Mona Lisa, and there were only a half-dozen or so computer images around that people traded. That I knew of. Probably there were more, because even back in those days I think there was such a thing as computer porn. I had naked “Lisa on a Stool” but she was very decorous and artistic.

    But my favorite old-computer story is the lab PDP-11 that friends of mine used. They showed me once how you had to boot that thing. You literally did it one bit at a time. There was a bank of switches in the front and you would flip them to represent the next 16 bits in the bootstrap program. And there was a little manual that contained the bootstrap program, in binary, which you would have to enter.

    For all I know the mainframe IBM worked the same way, but I never saw one of those in person.

  140. 140
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: [[[hug]]]

    Jeeze, the neediness of the superstitious. Drives me batty, it does.

  141. 141
    cat says:

    No, not earthquakes. Traffic Accidents caused by truckers for the Oil & Gas industry.

  142. 142
    Dr. Omed says:

    @scav: A lot of the most significant early films of the silent era no longer exist, or exist only in reconstructed fragments because of trashing, neglect, poor storage and deterioration of old film stock.

  143. 143
    West of the Rockies says:

    Anyone think that Trey Gowdy could be Paul Ryan’s idiot older brother? Mean to comment on appearance, I know, but damn….

  144. 144
    Schlemizel says:

    @Randy P:

    The projection booth I worked in was completely sealed from the rest of the building except for the 2 windows the film was shown through. It has a larger, heavy fire door that had to be kept close at all times. Those arcs were hot as hell and film stock very flammable.

  145. 145
    Schlemizel says:

    @Dr. Omed:

    I assume they are made in Thailand or Bangladesh now. Someplace cheap with no environmental regulations.

    Someone else here mentioned the public tube testers that used to be in stores. There really were only a few configurations for tubes & many substitutes so that a drug store could have a couple dozen tubes in stock & make a little money selling to do it yourselfers fixing tvs and radios at home.

  146. 146
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @West of the Rockies: I think he’s the Muggle cousin who the Malfoys’ keep hidden.

  147. 147
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Pogonip: The entire operation is an “in your face” to the Native Americans.

    These people have no respect for anyone outside of their own little insular group. The BLM is being tyrannical by FORCING them to respect the rights and heritage of native groups.

  148. 148
    West of the Rockies says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Definitely! As Ross Perot used to say, “He’s that crazy uncle in the basement….”

  149. 149
    YellowJournalism says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Giant hug for you from someone who knows what it’s like to get the blame for the significant other’s supposed loss of faith and ritual.

  150. 150
    Ruckus says:

    @Dr. Omed:
    Programed machine tools using a teletype machine and 1″ tape. After creating the program using a slide rule, paper and pencil and logarithms and trig.
    Have also programed in fortran using punch cards.

  151. 151
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Schlemizel: Come to think back on it, our projection booth had a heavy, metal clad door. Carbon arc lamps burn at several thousand degrees. Even the beam from the xenon lamp was hot enough melt the film if it got stuck in the projector.

  152. 152
    beth says:

    Did anyone see the 60 Minutes piece on missle silo operators last week or the week before? In the silos they still use computers with floppy disks for security reasons. I was amazed that they still used that technology and so was Lesley Stahl.

  153. 153
    scav says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Certainly is the gilded icing on their cake to offend the govt, environmentalists, and first nations all at once. All that are missing are the wimminz and the gheys for a complete row of bingo.

  154. 154
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @beth: It takes a while for technological change to hit all aspects of the military. The procurement process is clunky and lethargic, to say the least. Also, too, the contracts have to be parceled out by favored congressional districts and so forth.

    Then there’s the cost of training people up to the new technology. If the older technology does the job, why bother to upgrade for at best a marginal increase in performance?

  155. 155
    KS in MA says:

    @Pogonip: Shucks! I taught a class in Wang word processing and made my students walk uphill both ways.

  156. 156
    Schlemizel says:

    @beth: What you want is rock solid reliability. They know exactly how that stuff works, something new will introduce unknown problems and that would be very bad in that line of work.

    When I worked at Kennedy Space Center we built a new PC based launch control system to replace the old mainframe one. They ran the 2 side by side for over two years but relied only on the mainframe system. The PC based one went through many successful launches but was ignored until during one launch the mainframe one died. I assume the nuke guys would go through something similar & that is going to be expensive.

  157. 157
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Ruckus: My granddaughter is two years and two months old. I plan on getting her a good slide rule and teaching her how to use it. She may live long enough to see a time when computer calculators are no longer available, and the ability to do mathematic calculation without them becomes valuable.

  158. 158
    Freemark says:

    Still have a WORKING Atari 800 with a full 48k of RAM memory. I also have all the accessories; cassette drive, 300-baud modem, and 5.25 disk drive. The modem was one of the first for the home that plugged DIRECTLY into the phone jack.

    I also worked until recently doing phone internet/computer support. The amount of id-10-t errors I had to deal with was both frustrating and funny.

  159. 159
    SectionH says:

    @scav: I got to see a film melt in real time once. On an airplane, halfway between HNL and LAX. The Flight Attendant tried a couple of times to restart it, it wasn’t working, and people were grumbling. Mr S finally said, loudly, “You know I’d rather miss the rest of the film than have the plane catch fire.” People shut up. The FA thanked him very sincerely later.

    It was Children of a Lesser God, iirc.

  160. 160
    Ruckus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    I also find vicious jackals to be much better company. You can yell back at them with out any additional guilt trips.
    I’m having a similar issue with an extremely religious person, but she does guilt even without the help of any religion. Not sure she knows she’s doing so, by now it’s just her nature, which I try to avoid at all costs.

  161. 161
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    Hand me down that new 6DQ6, it’s only half an hour ’til “Your Show of Shows.”

  162. 162
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Schlemizel: According to Maddow’s Drift, if I recall correctly, one of the problems with our h-bomb arsenal is that now that the old guys who designed, built, and maintained the bombs have retired and/or died, nobody has the skills, knowledge, tools or plans to maintain or dismantle the older warheads. The kind of precision head/hand work involved is no longer done and nobody has those skills. The mid-twentieth century technologies that were used to build those bombs and missiles are effectively lost. That part of Maddow’s book stayed with me.

  163. 163
    Dr. Omed says:

    If what Maddow wrote is true, Werner von Braun must be chagrined as he rotates on his rotisserie in Hell.

  164. 164
    Ruckus says:

    Given the title of the post and many of the replies, including my own, I wonder if mistermix was referring to the projector or the commenters?

  165. 165
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Dr. Omed:

    Having spent a few decades as an aerospace machinist, starting in the early 70s, I can tell you that the skills and the tooling are both long gone. There are things that we could accomplish in the 60s that we can’t accomplish anymore. We’ve pretty much hollowed out our manufacturing and precision assembly base.

  166. 166
    mai naem says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Just do a one day a week fast for a couple of months and that’ll take care of anything you didn’t do and tell her you did it and then tell her to stuff it.
    Some of this religious stuff doesn’t even make sense. My sister’s gone real religious and is following a diet where she’s not allowed onions and garlic and she herself it really doesn’t make sense because garlic’s good for you health wise. It makes it hard to eat out with her because she can basically only eat out at salad bar kind of places. You can’t do Chinese, Thai or Italian. Whatever.

  167. 167
    Ruckus says:

    @Dr. Omed:
    The skills could be learned. The learning curve may not be particularly fun. I can’t imagine that the order and ideas are not at least written down somewhere. Everything I ever worked on in the military had extensive manuals and detailed instructions. They weren’t always written by someone who had seen or touched the piece of equipment but they did exist. The ability to tie cable with waxed string rather than using plastic ties inside a live electronic cabinet while the ship was underway would probably be the type of skills lost. They can be replaced.

  168. 168
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I suspect, though of course it is far too late, that it was a mistake to throw away those skills and tools. We may actually have to reinvent the precision tooled wheel later. So to speak.

  169. 169
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Ruckus: Yes, learning curve, not particularly fun. I plan to teach my granddaughter skills both mental and manual that do not involve touch screens. How to fix stuff, rather than throw it away and get another. I think she’ll need those skills.

  170. 170
    Ruckus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    Having worked in the field then and now I can say those skills are not completely lost. They are needed less and have been replaced with others. Same way as how my grandfather worked on cars over ninety years ago. Cars still have 4 wheels, etc, etc but have evolved to the point that if granddad arrived in a time machine he would maybe be able to drive today’s cars but work on them? He’d be completely lost. But cars still run and stop running and they get fixed. Machining still happens, parts get made, but it is different. And not everyone has moved into the 21st century. My boss doesn’t want to know new ways to do things that were actually new 20 yrs ago. The new way can make a better product. It can also be misused or misapplied but people said that about cars over horses a hundred yrs ago.

  171. 171
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Dr. Omed: Guitar amp tubes are pretty easy to find. There’s still some USA-made NOS (New Old Stock) out there. New ones are being made in China, Russia, and the Czech Republic. I hear the Czech ones are the best quality. I’ve got a couple of spare 6V6s that I picked up at a hamfest that I may throw into it one day, once I have the time to figure out how to bias them.

  172. 172
    Dr. Omed says:

    And speaking of learning curve, I will be (re)teaching some of those skills to myself as I teach my granddaughter.

  173. 173
    Pogonip says:

    @KS in MA: Hey there teacher! I thought that was you! How’ve you been?

  174. 174
    Dr. Omed says:

    @Ruckus: I used to be able to take a car engine apart and put it back together, because as a teenager a friend and I did just that to the engine of his Datsun 240Z, for “fun.” I certainly could do all routine maintenance and repair on whatever beater I was driving at the time. With the Mazda I drive now I would be helpless. It may be because I am indeed a relic but sometimes I would be happier with mechanical technology I could repair myself without use of a computer.

  175. 175
    Pogonip says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I hope you and your MIL patch things up. WEIRD (Western, Educated, Rich, Industrialized, Democratic [small-d democrat] and people who take their religion seriously tend to enrage and baffle each other; she’ll never understand why you took the exam more seriously than the rite, and vice versa for you. But you have one very important thing in common: you both love the son. Hang onto that.

  176. 176
    MikeJ says:

    @Randy P:

    where the idea of a computer producing a picture (by sending overstrike characters to the ASCII-only printer) was a novelty. I had a paper tape with Mona Lisa, and there were only a half-dozen or so computer images around that people traded. That I knew of. Probably there were more, because even back in those days I think there was such a thing as computer porn. I had naked “Lisa on a Stool” but she was very decorous and artistic.

    There were whole directories of ascii art all over the vaxen when I was in college.

  177. 177

    @Amir Khalid: they were trying a variant of this out in Taipei a couple of years ago, except that they were using a spicy pepper seasoning. Same technique, though. I don’t remember seeing it last November, though, so perhaps it’s gone. They still have the mango pies and the tasty, purple taro pies.

  178. 178
    MomSense says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Also too we are rabid anonymous somethings–can’t remember but it’s really bad.

    If you just can’t take it anymore, try imagining all of them with colanders on their heads.

  179. 179
    catclub says:

    @Botsplainer: “10 or 20 years from now, it will undoubtedly be worth money. ”

    Maybe 9 years worth of storage costs.

  180. 180
    NotMax says:

    Chalk me up as another one who worked with punch cards and punch tape.

    Remember hearing at some point since then that the Census Bureau was mightily concerned that the 1964 census was the first one for which the original data did not exist in any form but cards, and that there were only 2 machines still in existence which (a) worked and (b) were capable of reading the cards, as they were not the standard kind. The concern was that when it came time to release the full census (72 years after the census year) that there would be no way to do so.

    Suspect this is one of those “we’ll get around to dealing with that when the time comes” things that is going to bite the Census Bureau in the butt come 2036.

    As for floppies, for a project class in interactive cable TV and two-way data at grad school, we managed to finagle the use of one of only two machines ever built which used 36-inch floppies to store and play back video. The disks did not come in sleeves, but rather were like large, thin, floppy (duh!) records – one physically (and carefully) put them on a platter much like a turntable. IIRC, the machines and tech were prototypes made by Sony, which never found a use for them in the marketplace.

    We also got hold of the very last AT&T electronic blackboard in NYC (they had been phased out of the electronic meeting rooms which AT&T then was running in various large metro areas, for lack of use). Recall a rep from either AT&T or Bell Labs attending a demonstration in long-distance teaching I ran using the blackboard, who was astonished at one particular use made of it and kept saying “No one ever thought of using it that way before.”

  181. 181
    gbear says:

    @Schlemizel: I remember the ads for Muntz TVs. Was that on the Mel (HE’s got a good job!) Jazz show?

  182. 182
    NotMax says:


    Bought a used 25-inch Muntz when in college, and passed it along to the parents. They used it for nearly 30 years after that.

    Can still hear the jingle which used to run in the Philly area:

    There’s something about a Muntz TV
    Poplar nine oh three oh three

    (For the young’uns, POplar 9-0303 was the phone number of the local dealership.)

    Anyone else remember the high quality, hand-crafted Curtis Mathes TVs?

  183. 183
    Tehanu says:

    @Davis X. Machina:
    The first time I saw “Word Processing Dept.” on an office door I thought it was a typo for “Work Processing.” Went in and was introduced to the wonders of the IBM Displaywriter and its 8-inch floppies, which were such a huge improvement over the IBM Selectric and having to backspace to correct typos.

    @Dr. Omed:
    When I took “Computer Programming 1” in college I was (and still am) a lousy typist so I must have gone through an average of 4 messed-up punch cards for every one that I got right. Then I trudged over to the “computer systems office” and handed them to a beleaguered secretary who in turn fed them into a hopper, and eventually I got a printout that almost always said “You screwed up the third factor repeat repeat repeat blooie…” Which is why I’m not a “computer programmer” today.

  184. 184
    Pogonip says:

    @MomSense: I’m going to do that next time I’m trapped in a pointless meeting! Thanks!

  185. 185
    doctoromed says:

    Of course, I have personally lost skills and expertise I once had simply from lack of use. I have to trust a mechanic with a diagnostic computer to work on my Mazda 3, but I haven’t worked on a car in decades and no longer have the tools, and probably not the skills I had even to work on a sixties-seventies era automobile. I could no longer program in Fortran if my life depended on it. I think I could operate a film projector, but I may be fooling myself.

  186. 186
    Randy P says:

    @MikeJ: Not the same thing I’m remembering, I suspect. You’re probably talking about a couple dozen lines of ASCII characters maybe 30-40 chars wide. I’m talking about 1000 lines of overstrikes covering multiple pages, filling the whole page. ASCII characters weren’t sufficient for the shading.

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    NotMax says:

    Also too, for those unfamiliar with the Muntz brand, one but had to remove the rear panel to instantly see why they were nicknamed “The Gutless Wonders”

  188. 188
    Ruckus says:

    @Dr. Omed:
    I drive a 16 yr old van. It has fuel injection and an OBD II computer to run it all. Paid $75 for a computer to check the codes so that I could repair it myself. It’s actually easier most of the time, plug it in, read the code, change the part. Yes sometimes there are decisions as to which of 2 answers will fix the issue but you have always had to make decisions fixing a car.
    Maybe it’s my training, maybe because I used computers to mfg things back in the 70s, or because I was trained to repair tube amps for military equip but when I got in the field we had transistorized equip to work with. Did the same things but didn’t require nearly the same effort to keep them running. Different effort but not the same.
    I still use some skills I learned 50 yrs ago but there are in many instances better ways today, ways that produce a better product with less effort. Learning those new ways make me a valuable employee as well as keeping my mind sharp. I remember a saying I learned as a kid, learn something new every day.

  189. 189
    Ruckus says:


    That’s in the running for winning the day.

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    doctoromed says:

    @NotMax: Yes, I remember Curtis-Mathis. That was back when TVs were furniture. Large wooden cabinets for the high end models.

  191. 191
    scav says:

    @Randy P: I’m vaguely remembering something that reproduced photographs like that — rather scarily vivid image of a specific face (male). Over and beyond the manic numbers of Ascii cows that haunted the early net. And what was that space where everything was quotes from Monty Python and Stacks of >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>?

  192. 192
    NotMax says:


    Yes it is true Nelson Rockefeller did own 26 Curtis Mathes console televisions and stereos back in 1968. That is why the saying who do you think you are, Nelson Rockefeller got to used so much [sic] in the 1960’s to folks that had more than one television in their home. Source

  193. 193
    Ruckus says:

    The colanders would work much better than viewing every one naked, the old standard. In every meeting I’ve ever been in there was maybe one person who might look good naked. Everyone else would look normal and that doesn’t help at all.

  194. 194
    doctoromed says:

    @Ruckus: Sounds like you are much handier than I am. Or much less lazy. The current rate of change practically requires learning something new every day. And unlearning some of the old.

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    Citizen_X says:

    @glory b:

    A Native American welcome home ceremony for returning veterans had to be cancelled.

    Jesus H. Christ. Stay classy, Tea Party fuckers.

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    lol says:


    It wasn’t against company policy. Pixar set up a machine and copied the whole thing for her.

    The irony is that after killing themselves to combine her copy with scraps and pieces of other backups, they ultimately ended up scrapping nearly the entire film.

  197. 197
    kindness says:

    I just hooked my phono back up (a Dual 622). The home theater receiver didn’t have a phono input (no built in phono pre-amp) so I had to get a separate phono pre-amp to run it. Analog has it’s merits. I have a ton of MFSL 1/2 speed discs so it’s real good once more. It had probably been 10 years since I had it working last.

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    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Stay classy, Tea Party fuckers.

    To quote Ralph Wiggum, “unpossible.”

  199. 199
    ruemara says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Christ on a cracker. Them was the days of intense tech stupidity.

  200. 200
    Francis says:

    Speaking of nukes, I thought I read once that many of the Bombs weren’t designed to be taken apart. A remarkably fatalistic design philosophy, if true.

    Also there was this weird story, clearly planted, a few years back about how the aerogel for use in rebuilt nukes wasn’t working properly. Apparently the 40-year old specs had a flaw. Anyone remember that?

  201. 201
    Dave says:

    @Amir Khalid: I will never forget when the Wang Building in Lowell sold for half a million dollars at a fire sale auction in 1994. Pretty good investment, as the buyers flipped it four years later for $100 million dollars.

  202. 202
    Morzer says:


    Christ on a cracker? Has our socialist gay marriage enforcement policy finally hit its stride among the Talibangelicals?

  203. 203
    Joel Hanes says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:


    Dual triode, amirite ?

    [ googles ]

    Nope, it’s a beam pentode designed to be used in a TV’s horizontal deflection amp.

    I’m so old that my Army AIT training taught me electronics theory and troubleshooting using 1,000-Watt tube radio sets. AND I did BASIC on teletype/punch tape and FORTRAN on cards on IBM mainframes with core storage.

  204. 204
    JaneE says:

    @Joel Hanes: Ah, the good old days. When you had to debug the compiler before you could debug your own programs. And compilers were superseded before they were debugged.

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    David Koch says:

    @Tokyokie: Now adays how do cinemas receive their films – do they simply download the file or do they received a disk via carrier?

  206. 206
    David Koch says:

    @NotMax: I think it’s cool how LBJ had 3 tee vees and 2 teletype machines in the oval office. Talk about a news junkie. But why would Rocky need 26 tee vee in an age when there were only 4 channels?

  207. 207
    NotMax says:

    @David Koch

    Many-roomed mansions.

    And while there were 4 networks, there were more than 4 channels. NYC had 7 VHF channels and a smattering of UHF channels.

  208. 208
    Mnemosyne says:


    Part two of that story? So common that it’s unremarkable in animation. Hell, it happened with Frozen, which is now the highest-grossing animated film of all time.

    I’ll have to re-read the Ed Catmull account again — his strong implication was that Susman wasn’t really supposed to have the whole movie at her house, but it may be more that it was a decision that wasn’t considered very important and had been made below his level, so it was that Catmull didn’t realize there was another copy until she brought it in.

  209. 209
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @David Koch:

    But why would Rocky need 26 tee vee in an age when there were only 4 channels?

    13 rooms that needed two TVs each?

    LBJ had all three networks on because he wanted to see what they were all saying about him. Nowdays, I’m sure most people in the WH ignore Faux, because they know what Faux is saying about them…all utter crap.

  210. 210
    Calming Influence says:

    Late to this, but as a life-long DIYer that projector represents $1,000 in parts, minimum. If that gets buried in a landfill, a crime will have been committed.

  211. 211
    Tripod says:


    That story reads like the nonsensical apocryphal luddite emails I get from a teabagging uncle. ..something, something, leaded gasoline…

  212. 212
    Jacquie says:

    @evolved beyond the fist mistermix: That’s awesome. I contributed to the upgrade campaign and try to go there whenever I can.

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