About the Author
James Grahame is CEO of Reflex ASI, a consumer electronics company. His obsession with classic gizmos led him to start retrothing.com, a successful web site dedicated to vintage gadgetry. He is also on the editorial staff of small format, a European magazine focused on small format moviemaking. James lives in Western Canada with his wife and young son.
He encourages you to visit retrothing.com for a glimpse of even more classic gadgetry and vintage technology.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
We live in an age of wonder. Each new year welcomes thousands of innovative devices that are smaller, faster and more beautiful than anything before. It is easy to get caught up in an endless quest for the ultimate new gadget, but dont forget that many brilliant old machines are hidden away in attics and garages throughout the world forgotten movie cameras lie on dusty shelves beside obsolete computers and classic mechanical toys, all crying out to be rediscovered and brought back to life.
Thats what this book is about rediscovery. Its not a catalogue for collectors or a price guide for eBay sellers. The goal is to introduce you to as many vintage (or classically styled) gadgets as I can sanely cram into a couple of hundred pages. Treat this as an opportunity to revive the styles and technology of bygone eras, and to discover an earlier age of elegant mechanics and hand-drawn design.
Its hard to tell which of todays gizmos will become the design icons of our era, but its easy to pick out beautiful and definitive devices from the past. And best of all yesterdays technology often sells for an infinitesimal fraction of what it cost new. So, rather than spending $1000 on a brand new camcorder, risk $50 on a mint-condition Super 8 camera. Or invest in a vacuum tube amplifier instead of the latest digital surround-sound wonder box with its baffling remote control. Your digital watch has stopped running? Go mechanical and youll never worry about dead batteries again.
We take the breathtaking pace of technological change almost for granted. Just dont forget that most new equipment supplants something from an older generation a new Xbox 360 videogame console might replace a classic Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and so on. Eventually, older machines find their way to garage sales and flea markets, where they often sell for a handful of spare change.
Ive tried to list sources for the gear I mention, but many old items like the beautiful wooden Gfeller Trub telephone and Audio Technicas brilliant Sound Burger portable record player are almost impossible to find at sane prices. The Internet is partially to blame, since interesting old devices often gain cult status on forums and Blogs. And, once a gadget becomes widely known, it frequently becomes the focus of aggressive bidding on auction sites like eBay. The solution is to get your hands on machines that make you wonder why no one has discovered them yet. Rest assured that the masses will follow.
One book cant possibly cover every must-have piece of technology from the past few decades. Youll quickly discover that each chapter of Essential Retro provides only the mere tip of an iceberg. Rather than mindlessly cataloguing everything, I picked and chose things that caught my eye and imagination. Hopefully, some of these wonderful machines will capture your heart like they did mine, and youll find yourself collecting and using magnificent contraptions from years past.