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Tuesday night [his] gradfather died. He invented rewinding.
August 14, 2008 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Tuesday night [his] gradfather died. He invented rewinding.
posted by GuyZero (58 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Be kind.
posted by yhbc at 8:55 AM on August 14, 2008 [9 favorites]


Call me old fashioned, but I still rewind my DVD rentals before returning them.
posted by mazola at 9:02 AM on August 14, 2008 [3 favorites]




.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:05 AM on August 14, 2008


Oh, and:


posted by mazola at 9:05 AM on August 14, 2008 [11 favorites]


and his whole life flashed before his eyes, backwards.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:11 AM on August 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


When I worked at a video rental store, and everything was still on VHS, people would inevitably bring back porn, unrewound. There was something uncomfortably about that, as there, as though marked in time by the fact that the VCR had stopped playing there, was the exact moment of the renter's orgasm, or the moment they passed out in a post-orgasmic bliss.

That's why it is kind to rewind. So you don't skeeve out a video store clerk.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:15 AM on August 14, 2008 [32 favorites]


My father invented the question mark.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:20 AM on August 14, 2008


.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:21 AM on August 14, 2008


<<
posted by poppo at 9:22 AM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's always very interesting to learn about the folks who invent these seemingly small things that get no glory but change the way we do things world-wide. What a cool grandpa he had!
posted by zarah at 9:22 AM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Let me get this straight. Eggbert Praetorius invented rewinding, but the only proof we have of this is a post on Reddit by somebody claiming to be his grandson. Color me skeptical.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:26 AM on August 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


Well BoingBoing linked to the reddit post too... does that help or hurt the credibility?
posted by smackfu at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2008


Would it make more sense that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree?
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:33 AM on August 14, 2008 [36 favorites]


I hope he saw some money from this.
posted by starman at 9:42 AM on August 14, 2008


SteveInMaine: His Callsign. Not saying it's true, but the name, address and hobby match.
posted by Leon at 9:44 AM on August 14, 2008


Because nothing makes a (potentially dubious) obituary thread more classy than grousing about Christianity, amirite??

Come on, man. At least try to stay on topic.
posted by lumensimus at 9:44 AM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


When i was growing up, one of my Mom's good friends said that one of her good friends in college had a father who worked for Procter and Gamble, and he was the one who came up with "3. Repeat" on the shampoo bottle. According to her, this woman's father was set for life within the company because of how much money they made from his innovation.

I'm sure she believed it, but I have no idea if it is actually true or not.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:46 AM on August 14, 2008


Good night, Bert.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:48 AM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I apologize, I couldn't help myself.

I really hope someone can find proof that Eggbert Praetorius did/did not invent rewinding. It would be cool to know.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 9:49 AM on August 14, 2008


To be specific, the claim is that Bert invented the ability to play a video tape backwards and get a smooth picture, not generic rewinding per se. I find it plausible if only because it's such a tiny claim to stake that it hardly seems worth lying about. Plus there's some obvious warmth from the poster towards his granddad. I just though it was a cute tiny-corner-of-the-web human-interest story.
posted by GuyZero at 9:51 AM on August 14, 2008


Rewinding didn't need to be invented. Everything used to be on a loop. It was self-rewinding.

kids today...
posted by blue_beetle at 9:52 AM on August 14, 2008


it's not "rewinding", it's "rewinding (seriously)"

"It was here that he developed the technology for rewinding to work properly (think of something like when you're watching tv and you see someone drop an egg on the sidewalk, and then you'll see the entire think in reverse flawlessly, without the lines you would see like when you would try to do the same with a tape in the VCR- and remember, at this time, this was many years before the advent of home video recording)"

also, there is the claim that he was on "I've got a Secret" which could be vetted...

finally,

Reddit: you'll see the entire think in reverse flawlessly
posted by sloe at 9:52 AM on August 14, 2008


I really don't understand what he's claiming his grandfather invented. It wasn't a rewinder, and it wasn't related to the development of videocassette...did he just come up with the idea of rewinding?
posted by anazgnos at 9:53 AM on August 14, 2008


Heh, it's cool. At the very least, he was named Eggbert Praetorius, which has got to be good for something.
posted by lumensimus at 9:54 AM on August 14, 2008


paisley, is the magic formula then:

1. Lather
2. Rinse
3. Repeat
4. Profit

Because, if so, I think we have some underpants gnomes to educate.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:55 AM on August 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Color me skeptical.

Me too. The description is a little vague about the dates, but the gist of it was that an engineer for NBC invented a way to rewind videotape shortly after WWII. That would seem unlikely, because according to Wikipedia the standard tape format used by networks from the mid 1950s to early 1970s was physically unable to rewind due to technical reasons. It seems much more likely that rewinding was "invented" by whoever came up with the new format that was not stored in segments.

I'm also skeptical about the part where it says he was friends with most of the Yankees.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:55 AM on August 14, 2008


I found this page, which claims to have all the I've Got a Secret Episodes listed, with their guests. My quick search did not turn up Eggbert.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:00 AM on August 14, 2008


Well BoingBoing linked to the reddit post too... does that help or hurt the credibility?

Wll, thnk t hrts th crdblty.
posted by shmegegge at 10:00 AM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's the one baby shoes. Logically, following those instructions leads to an overnight doubling in shampoo use, ergo profits.

Personally, it always seemed like a stretch to me, but somebody had to come up with it, I suppose.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:05 AM on August 14, 2008


Sloppy language here—should be play in reverse, not rewind.
posted by klangklangston at 10:07 AM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah right. And bigfoot's gonna turn up in Georgia.
posted by cashman at 10:08 AM on August 14, 2008


This is cool -- one of those "inventions" that you never really think about. We just sort of take "rewinding" for granted.
posted by davidmsc at 10:13 AM on August 14, 2008


So we have Eggbert to thank for this?

.
posted by netbros at 10:20 AM on August 14, 2008


So if he's so smart he should come back and tell us about it.

I once opened a story book in the middle for my three-year old daughter and she said, "No, no, Daddy. Bewind it."
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:22 AM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Im not sure what this guy did. Did he build the spec out for rewinding tapes? Did he develop slow-motion reverse video processing, as the egg story suggests? He's not in any patent search and we dont know where he worked.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:38 AM on August 14, 2008


I once opened a story book in the middle for my three-year old daughter and she said, "No, no, Daddy. Bewind it."

My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and I were admiring a flower bouquet yesterday. She wanted me to spin it around so she could see the other side, so she told me to "skip ahead".
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:41 AM on August 14, 2008


I'm with burnmp3s. This is all sloppily described and poorly indicative of the actual facts.

Smooth reverse playback (much like smooth slow-motion forward playback), is dependent upon a helical scan tape system that allows a full television field to be scanned by the head drum while the tape is stationary. This was first the case in 1" type C videotape. Type C is a SMPTE standard jointly developed by Ampex and Sony, not an engineer at NBC.

There may have been other early frame-buffering kludges that achieved the same effect in another way, but that would have little relation to smooth off-speed playback as we know it today.
posted by Pliskie at 10:48 AM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


One evening long, long ago, while drawing stacked hexagons and experimenting with different applications for packaging and enclosing space with minimum materials, I invented hexagonal fencing, which had the smallest openings via shared walls and the most efficient use of wire. "I must patent this," I thought. Shortly after that, while working in my garden, I noticed a piece of chicken wire.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:02 AM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Probably the earliest reverse motion playback was patented in 1982 by Ampex and called AST (Automatic Scan Tracking) for the Ampex VPR-2B.

My dad worked at the Kodak office in Roch. NY. Its a skyscraper with a red light at the top that shines at night. He told us he had to walk up the stairs each day, turn on the light, and walk back down. That was his job. I have a feeling this "rewind" invention is something similar; the idea of simply rewinding a tape is not an invention. Being able to display and/or broadcast in reverse motion is, and it appears Ampex came up with that one.
posted by sluglicker at 11:43 AM on August 14, 2008


Ampex had the first patent but they may or may not have been the first to try or use the technique. It's possible that others could have used the technique but been working in organizations that didn't seek to patent such things. Also, the granddad's technique might have been sub-optimal or somehow not quite good enough for patenting. I mean, he might have mounted a reel-to-reel tape backwards or something.

I mean, maybe he just told tall tales. Who knows.
posted by GuyZero at 12:02 PM on August 14, 2008


"There may have been other early frame-buffering kludges that achieved the same effect in another way, but that would have little relation to smooth off-speed playback as we know it today."

Uhhh, have you noticed that we don't really use videotape for editing/playback anymore? That it's only still used for capture & archiving, and that it's being replaced with flash + hard disk storage across almost all product lines?

Playback tricks 'as we know it today' are accomplished with framebuffer tricks in compression algorithms.
posted by blasdelf at 12:05 PM on August 14, 2008


I mean, maybe he just told tall tales. Who knows.

Maybe. And it wouldn't be the first time a little guy got screwed out of a patent. I hate to discredit this kind of thing, on the one hand, because it ruins a cherished memory of a loved and respected recently deceased grandfather. And like you said, who knows?
posted by sluglicker at 12:23 PM on August 14, 2008


Eggbert Praetorius would have been a great name for a Spider-Man villain.

"I have you now, Dr. Praetorius!"
"You haven't won yet, wall-crawler! Feel the sting of my Cosmic Rewinder! Bwah hah hahh!"
BZZZZAP!
"What's this? I'm 60 minutes in the past! Dr. P has escaped me again!"
posted by SPrintF at 12:23 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Another fake.
posted by Zambrano at 12:29 PM on August 14, 2008


It's always very interesting to learn about the folks who invent these seemingly small things that get no glory but change the way we do things world-wide. What a cool grandpa he had!

To be fair, it wasn't rewinding that he invented, but a particular revision on the idea for a particular form of storage which is now obsolete, and his grandson doesn't seem very articulate in how it actually worked except that "you know it plays backward what would have otherwise been forward... you know... like an egg dropping only it rises instead!"

Yet somehow everyone just reads the title of the post and glamourizes him as having invented smoked salmon or something...
posted by tybeet at 12:34 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another fake.

That blog post on Wired is a nearly verbatim summary of this very thread with the addition of an actual phone call to someone who told him to sod off.

Hardly conclusive.
posted by GuyZero at 1:12 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


This just in:

New evidence suggests a local boy's grandfather did not, in fact, walk 10 miles to school each day, uphill and through snow. Authorities have not yet determined how this will affect his status as "World's Greatest Grandpa", but for the time being all yarn-spinning and candy-dispensing privileges have been suspended.

In other news:

Your dad could not beat up our dad.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


That "I've Got A Secret" guest list only has the celebrity guests. They also had normal people on as well. It's not a comprehensive list.
posted by betaray at 2:12 PM on August 14, 2008


These two hot blonde airheads came to my high school reunion and claimed that they invented post-its.

They didn't really, but it turned out all right in the end and everyone found happiness and love.
posted by Naberius at 2:14 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't get it. If he invented rewinding then he likely invented the entire mechanism.

I picture the man who did invent the entire mechanism wiping his hands on his inventor's apron and stepping back it admire his handiwork. "Well, it records, it plays back recordings, I can pause it if I have to go wee, and also I can skip ahead through parts I don't like with this handy feature I like to call 'fast forward'."

"This is great! So what happens when you get to the end of the tape?"

"THROW THE FUCKER AWAY! IT'S USELESS THEN!"
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:45 PM on August 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Someone has started a Wikipedia article basically copying the text of the reddit entry, and another anonymous Wikipedia contributor claims that he his friend went to the Museum of Television and Radio and watched the episode in question. (For the record, it's allegedly Season 7, episode 12.)
posted by designbot at 3:06 PM on August 14, 2008


GuyZero: I'm the author of that Wired.com story, and I actually got to talk with a relative of the guy later in the day. I just updated my post to reflect their comments. So far the story does seem to be checking out, though I haven't seen any technical docs or anything yet. And yes, I did pick up a tip from MeFi (about the helical scan technology), linking back here. Metafilter rocks!
posted by dylan20 at 4:31 PM on August 14, 2008


So, in the following-this-too-closely file I notice just a while ago that the original post on Reddit said he was going to "take care of this". So I guess he got a hold of you.

I really thought this was just a little throw-away bit of web fluff but for some reason it's really taken off. Slow news day I suppose.
posted by GuyZero at 4:36 PM on August 14, 2008


Unless that guy's grandfather was just hanging around the lab, maybe as a night shift janitor or something. I picture him poring over the schematics on his smoke break, slipping his glasses from his face and pressing the tip of one the handles thoughtfully to his lips. "Hmm," he says. "Perhaps I can help." A few hastily-scribbled notes, diagrams and formulae, inserted discretely into the project documentation. The next morning the actual inventor arrives, his eyes dark from lack of sleep, dishevelled, discouraged. As is his ritual, he reviews the material at his disposal, and is curious about these new papers. Perhaps one of his assistants? "Ho ho," he says.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:03 PM on August 14, 2008


54 comments and no one noticed it said gradfather in this post. Twice.
posted by smackfu at 5:31 PM on August 14, 2008


If we're talking about linear video tape then the problem with running it backwards is your frame/field structure also gets reversed, so you'd need to buffer each field, reverse it and play it back, or alternatively avoid the problem by cutting the tape into individual fields and splicing them back in reverse order. You'd have much the same problems with quadruplex. The former is pushing the limits of 1950s technology and the latter highly laborious, but neither is impossible, which would make the claim of a brightspark inventor having come up with a workable method just about plausible.

(though the comment about the lines seen on VCRs is completely irrelevant, as that's the result of helical scan heads passing over multiple fields as the tape winds pass them at the wrong speed for the heads' tilt)

Also worth noting that running movie film in reverse is trivial, so calling him the father of the effect is a bit much.
posted by cillit bang at 6:53 PM on August 14, 2008


When I worked at a video rental store, and everything was still on VHS, people would inevitably bring back porn, unrewound. There was something uncomfortably about that, as there, as though marked in time by the fact that the VCR had stopped playing there, was the exact moment of the renter's orgasm, or the moment they passed out in a post-orgasmic bliss.

That's why it is kind to rewind. So you don't skeeve out a video store clerk.


At the video store that employed me through the better part of my twenties, many of us would use a fine-point sharpie to mark the tape level of returned adult films prior to slapping them into the rewinders (devices for which I now thank Mr. Praetorius). The mark was usually a fine line or a dot on the little clear plastic window that sat above the spooling end of the tape on the right side.

The consideration for documenting that particular point on an adult tape's advancement was twofold: first, marking the "release point" allowed for discerning (i.e. informed) renter to skip the "fluff" (pardon the term) and fast-forward to parts of the tape that had impact on other renters; second, any unrewound tapes that had been advanced past their initial marks became of immediate "second look" interest to the more prurient employees.

Maybe we were more inured to the subject matter, maybe we were more enlightened, but we were only "skeeved out" when the tapes came back greasy.
posted by Graygorey at 11:43 PM on August 14, 2008


If only I could turn back time...
posted by kayalovesme at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2008


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