So, I’ve been reading about assorted musical instrument technologies that were old before I was born. I can’t remember how I got started, but the best find this time was the optigan, a 70’s era sample-playback organ that worked by storing the music optically on a disk – sort of like analog film soundtrack, only laid out like a record. Truly funny. I also got interested in the Mellotron – and reading about same – and the Hammond B3. (My ultimate studio would probably have a B3 sitting right next to a Yamaha C7 baby grand. Since I can’t afford either one, I use electronic versions instead). I learned lots of fun things about the innards of the B3 at the Hammond Wiki, including that most B3s (apparently the instruments I’ve played were atypical) have a startup sequence involving holding down a start switch until the tonewheel assembly gets up to speed, and then switching over to the run switch to let the synchronous motor take over. By the way, I still think that Boston’s ‘Walk On’ album is the final word in awesomeness when it comes to the B3. And by the way, yay mechanical tone generators!

I also read about the Ondes Martenot, a rather impressive little synthesizer for it’s day – I especially like their idea of using different speaker configurations with unusual things in front of them (gongs, sympathetic resonators) to change the character of the tone. I drooled a bit over the mighty Wurlitzer theater organ (they just don’t have enough places where a amataur can try these things out!), got a good laugh out of the Wurlitzer side man. (I’ve got to meet this Pea Hix character, if only I can convince him I’m cool enough to be worth hanging out with ;-)), and just generally enjoyed a nice bout of nostalgia for electric instruments that were old before I was born.

Those of you who follow this blog regularly will remember my nostalgia-fests over The Set, a old TV repairman’s successful endeavor to restore the first-ever NTSC TV receiver to operation, and of course my ongoing fascination (some day I’m probably going to buy one) with the CED Videodisc format. For those of you who missed out on that last one, it’s a example of geekery gone wrong at it’s finist – it was a competitor to the VCR that stored video on a disk that was read by a mechanical (or quasi-mechanical, since ideally the pickup never touched the grooves) playback head.

I also, along the way, discovered 8 track heaven, which among other things lists bands that are still releasing their works on 8-track tape. As in those clunky cartridges with a continuous loop tape inside. Oddly tempting, that..

I wonder what interesting bits of nostalgia I’ll come across next? Anyway, thanks to the authors of all those sites for keeping little bits of our geek history alive.

Oh, yeah.. I remember one thing I wanted to whine about: Geocities is shutting down, AOL hometown already has. AOL hometown – what AOL did with the free web pages hosted by all the ISPs that it absorbed in the early 90s – had many thousands of fascinating pages. All gone. AOL pulled the plug with less than a month’s notice. Jason Scott from did a good job of describing the carnage and also suggesting a solution that may help prevent future carnage.

2 Responses to “nostalgia..”

  1. ClintJCL Says:

    is that Jason Scott guy the guy who did that huge BBS documentary?

  2. sheer_panic Says:

    Yep, same guy.

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