Tag Archives: nostalgia

The WebSE Mac System 7 emulation

While we’re in geek nostalgia mode, try this one for size.

I began my love affair with Apple and the Macintosh computer on little beige boxes with tiny black and white screens built in. This web site offers a Flash-based emulation of such a machine running Macintosh System 7. I used to design and lay out entire magazines in QuarkXPress one-dot-something-or-other on a screen that size.



Fun and Games

As I noted yesterday, we’re currently enjoying an indian summer here in the UK. While I find myself at something of a loose end, I dug out the box of old plate cameras Best Beloved had acquired some 20 years ago.

The original intention was to use them for model photography. The cameras came with various back plates, mainly intended for quarter plate film, I think, but with adaptor units so you could run a 120 film through them. I do have the results of the tests done years ago, but sadly one of the films was damaged by light leakage during the developing process.

This is proper old skool photography. And I’m going to run the 120 films that have been cluttering up our fridge since the 1990s through the machines today.


First up is a Zeiss Ikon Trona 210/5 from the early 1930s. The rangefinder sight has lost its mirror, so I will be aiming blind. As it’s a sunny day, I am hoping to not worry too much about focus as the aperture will probably be quite tiny. The Zeiss is the only camera actually designed to take the film size, though the final image will be one-and-a-half frames of the normal square 120 format. This may mean there will be overlapped exposures where I haven’t wound the film on far enough. All part of the fun.


Next we have a beast of a camera, which is a Soho reflex. From what I can find out it was made some time between 1910 and 1930. It’s a half-plate box camera, but has been modified to take a 120 film back. Again, winding on the film to avoid double-exposures will be very much hit and miss. Out of a 12-frame 120 film, I will probably get three or four exposures, if I am lucky.


The Soho, at least, I can focus using the mirror to reflect what the lens sees up to the glass screen, but sadly the shutter mechanism does not function properly. This means I will be attempting to make exposures by covering and uncovering the lens, rather in the manner of the Victorian pioneers. Which will, if nothing else, be a hoot. I also have problems because it doesn’t have the original lens, and the one it is fitted with is so worn you can’t quite make out the ƒ-stops. Trial and error—what fun!

The next issue I must face is whether I can find a good local photo lab that can process the exposed film. I don’t really want to post it off anywhere, because I am impatient. Any pointers to labs in Kent I may be able to use will be gratefully received.

(I know I could process the stuff myself. While I’d love to, it’s rather too much faff at the moment.)


Remember when…?

A friend pointed me earlier to a site dedicated to analogue audio tape cassette nostalgia, tapedeck.org. It’s a simple kind of site, just rows and rows of cassette tapes of all ages.

A happy half-hour or so was spent, remembering the various designs of tape cassette I used to buy. I also spent a while remembering when it was the thing to do to make your own mix-tapes by carefully selecting your favourite album tracks from vinyl LPs, arranging and timing them nicely to fit into a complete side of a C90 without leaving a massive gap at the end. 

(If you don’t know what LP, vinyl or C90 means, ask your grandparents!)

My preferred tape supplier was TDK. Indeed, I still have two AR-X90 cassettes in their unopened shrink wrap. Why, then, are the photos I’ve provided of Sony tapes? Well, before computers became fast enough, affordable enough and reliable enough to be audio/video recording devices, I used to mix and edit audio on reel-to-reel tape. Eventually, I moved to a multitrack cassette recorder—the kind of thing innumerable amateur groups used to record their demo tapes on in back bedrooms the country over, before sending them off to John Peel in the hope they would get a brief airing on his late night show on Radio 1. 

I wasn’t into making my own music, though. I preferred mucking about with sound effects and noises of various kinds. The epitome of audio cassette-dom, then, were the Sony Metal Master jobbies. Eschewing the rather common plastic shell, the Metal Masters used a ceramic composite for the shell and tape guide, in order to “provide the best possible sound quality”. The extra weight stopped the shell from vibrating in the recorder mechanism, and theoretically lowered the consequent tape flutter and so on.

We only owned one such tape, probably because the darned things were really expensive compared to the bog standard TDKs I used. We used this one tape for some audio track mixing for some video work, if I remember correctly. I couldn’t tell you whether it was successful or not, because it wasn’t long before we went digital—I bought a portable MiniDisc Walkman recorder shortly after, and we never really looked back.

So, this evening, I dug the old tapes out, dusted them down and took their portraits. I sent them over to tapedeck.org, and perhaps they’ll appear in the archives soon.