Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell
in at their Volta Laboratory
in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison
worked from his Menlo Park facilities
, and Emile Berliner
worked in his independent laboratory
in his home
. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile
, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners
, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders
, respectively. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Feb 10, 2012 -
Those of us who enjoy old-school chemical photography often need to calculate f-stop and exposure times. Of course you can use a ginormous table
but there exists a solution from a more elegant age in which the sky can be purest blue above a very narrow old street. Marvel at Kaufmann's Posographe
, a wonder of the analog age.
posted by LastOfHisKind
on Dec 30, 2011 -
is happy his photographs have an “analog” look about them. After all, he did hand-make the models himself. Before the German photographer even snaps a single shot, he is in his studio, creating 3D model subjects — usually industrial grey constructs in still, almost poetic, settings — out of deco boards, plasticine, and paint. It could take weeks, even months, before Frank is fully satisfied. The result? Models that could could pass for the real thing, and photographs that portray complete worlds of their own.
posted by netbros
on Nov 24, 2011 -
I've never really had a clear understanding of how mechanical computing worked, until today when I watched these US Navy training films from 1953. Part 1
focuses on shafts, gears, cams and differentials. Part 2
explains mechanical component solvers, integrators and multipliers. More information about ship gun fire-control systems here
posted by drmanhattan
on Feb 14, 2010 -
In 1937-38, computer pioneer George Philbrick worked for the Foxboro Co. as an analyst. He had the radical idea of building an electronic analog computer to simulate the behaviour of hydraulic industrial equipment, so Foxboro customers could experiment with control systems without needing a pipe wrench. One of the world's first analog computers was ignominiously ferried around the U.S. in the back seat of Philbrick's car. Ironically, Philbrick didn't give his "Automatic Process Analyzer" a properly techy, pretentious nickname. He dubbed his one-eyed monster Polyphemus.
posted by metasonix
on Aug 11, 2007 -
It has always been difficult to look up any information on the pioneers of computing. Even today, in the Internet age, one has trouble finding much about early computers--even on the ultimate computer network.
Consider the late George A. Philbrick. He was one of the titanic figures in electronic computing in the 1950s--mainly because of the company he founded, which was a major manufacturer (and pioneer) of the operational amplifier
, at a time when an "op-amp" was made of vacuum tubes. Op-amps were used to build analog computers
, which were widely used to simulate physical processes in the days when digital computers were either non-existent, or too slow and costly, for many kinds of simulation and process-control work. Op-amps, in chip form, are still widely used in electronics. Yet, despite his unquestioned status as a major pioneer of electronics, there was almost nothing on the Internet about Philbrick or his company.
Until 2005--when Joe Sousa decided to put up a website dedicated to Philbrick's legacy. Behold The Philbrick Archive.
posted by metasonix
on Aug 4, 2007 -
Does Twitter move a little too fast for you? Maybe Dawdlr
is more your speed. The lovechild of PostSecret and the web-app-everyone-loves-to-hate, postcards sent in are scanned and posted twice a year. Next update? November 21st.
posted by Alt F4
on May 23, 2007 -
, from 1930 to the present, of every poignant
and, yes, kinda slutty
cover of the magazine that started out as Astounding Stories of Super Science
and became Analog
, with lots of changes
in between. [via the horse's neck]
posted by mediareport
on Nov 11, 2006 -
Have you ever seen a synth and said "Man, what this needs is cartoon eyes?"
A bit similar to the Buchla Box
in that they don't have a keyboard to control the sounds -- it's probably closest to the Booper, invented by The Weatherman
(or, well, Circuit Bending
), the Thingamagoop is a photosynthesizer
... which means it basically uses light sensors to generate sounds. The signal's run through a couple oscillators and, well, it comes out as somethin' that's pretty dang awesome
. I'm on the fence on pickin' this one up. On one hand, it's a really neat toy that makes noise... on the other hand, um.... um.... I dunno. It's not made of candy?
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me
on Jul 8, 2006 -
John "Paia" Simonton
died late last week. His company, PAiA
is one of the grandfathers of the DIY synth scene. I have one of his modular synths
half-constructed in my garage. He helped create an American buzz for electronic music and DIY music gear in the 70s, and was highly influential till his passing away.
posted by blackvectrex
on Nov 29, 2005 -
The nukes are alright...
"since most American nuclear plants were built in the 1960s and '70s, they operate on analog systems, and are unlikely to be affected by digital errors." I feel so much safer now...
posted by grant
on Nov 8, 1999 -