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James Grahame
Calgary, Canada
Interests: Clever gadgets, electronic musical instruments, Super 8 movies, classic video games, pinball machines, elegant electronic design
Recent Activity
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I know, it's 2014 and film is supposedly dead and buried. However, thousands of amateur and professional filmmakers still shoot Super 8 film because of its unique look. You can still buy newly manufactured film, but no new cameras have rolled off the assembly line since the early 1980s. That's a problem if you need reliable equipment for professional projects.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2014 at Retro Thing
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Just because you've still got a couple of people to buy for on your Christmas list doesn't mean you have to resort to a frenetic trip to a crowded mall. There's still time to order online, and there are lots of affordable gifts that vintage aficionados will be happy to receive this year. Here are a few for under $100,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2013 at Retro Thing
This Black Friday nonsense isn't a new idea. We look back at a 1982 commercial that promised stores would remain open for 60 hours straight - a nightmarish concept for everyone involved. Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2013 at Retro Thing
The audio path is 100% analog. The only digital add-on is the MIDI input,which is fixed to receive on channel 1 and only passes note data. Everything else is a modernization of the original.
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Korg and NYC electronics kit startup LittleBits have teamed up to create a $159 snap-together analog synthesizer kit. It includes 12 modules including a pair of oscillators, classic 1970s-style filter, envelope generator, mini switch keyboard and essentials such as a power regulator and speaker. LittleBits modules feature magnetic snap-together connectors that make it easy to quickly rearrange electronic modules in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2013 at Retro Thing
I want a business card that reads "American Institute of Laundering." Out of context, it seems vaguely illegal.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2013 on Join The Bozo Army at Retro Thing
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This brand new Electrohome HiFi system looks incredibly cool and I've wanted to mention it here for a while. But as the old saying goes, looks are only skin deep. I don't recommend it because you can get far better gear for much less. If you're in the market for a budget turntable that offers decent quality with readily available... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2013 at Retro Thing
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Forty-four years after the original Star Trek series was cancelled, the USS Enterprise and her crew return to the screen in a kaleidoscope of faux-Technicolor, dodgy gel lighting and vintage musical cues. Of course, times have changed since the late-1960s heyday of studio television. This time around, Star Trek Continues has been launched as a Kickstarter pledge drive. Their goal?... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2013 at Retro Thing
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Long-time Retro Thing reader Duncan Waldron found these stunning metal pinhole cameras that are equal parts art and science. The Heartbeat camera was created by Kwanghun Hyun. It incorporates a Unitas 6497 movement that controls the exposure time with ridiculous mechanical precision. The film spool is actually mounted outside the camera case, a quirk that reduces the size of the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2013 at Retro Thing
I agree, it's completely daft and impractical. ;)
Toggle Commented Oct 7, 2013 on Brilliant VW Beetle Camper at Retro Thing
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This one-off console stereo combines vintage and modern audio technology in a magnificently handcrafted case. On the vintage side, the turntable is a late-1970s Yamaha, an elderly JVC equalizer lets you tweak frequencies the old-school way, and a vintage 5-inch CRT has been hacked to display Lissajous waveforms that throb and twitch in time to the music. Oh, I almost... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2013 at Retro Thing
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When somebody says "VW camper," I envision an elderly VW Micro Bus with a hand-painted peace sign below the front grill. This 1964 Beetle with pop-up camper is something else entirely. 1964 VW Beetle Camper [Tom Donohue on flickr] Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2013 at Retro Thing
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Yes, I know we live in the digital age. That doesn't stop me enjoying a good book or even reading a newspaper once in a while. Alas, it's been several years since I shot real film. Instead, I capture life's little moments with my phone. And then I forget about them. Fujifilm's diminutive Instax Mini 90 camera is a wonderful... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2013 at Retro Thing
My local library had ancient HD414s when I was a teenager. They'd lend them to you when you wanted to listen to vinyl at one of their listening stations. There were something tremendously icky about sticking those slightly dirty foam earpieces on my head, but the revulsion was overcome by the opportunity to listen to Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream.
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I don't like writing obituaries, simply because I see Retro Thing as a celebration of technology from decades past, not a stern-faced memorial chapel. So instead of mourning the death of Ray Dolby – the founder of Dolby Laboratories and inventory of Dolby noise reduction – let's mark the 50th anniversary of the compact cassette and thank Mr. Dolby for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2013 at Retro Thing
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The news that Nokia's mobile device division is now part of Microsoft made me a tad sentimental this morning. Like hundreds of millions of others, my gateway into the futuristic world of mobile communication was a Nokia. The Nokia 5110 embodied everything that my late 1990s self imagined a phone to be: sleek and compact, with solid call quality and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2013 at Retro Thing
Retro Thing's Bohus Blahut owns a Moviestuff Workprinter and has received good customer support from Roger Evans in the past. Although I haven't spoken to Roger for several years, I can vouch for his character and the company has sold thousands of units. I suspect that he has been overwhelmed by the complexity of this new product (previous versions were based on projectors, whereas the Retro-8 is built around custom-machined parts). Why don't you give him a phone call to see where things are at?
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Vintage computers and antiques are valuable because they are rare and collectable, not because people are fools. On the other hand, buying a brand new luxury car *is* foolish because it will lose half of its value in five years.
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It shouldn't surprise you that I have a fondness for a number of vintage microprocessors, including the 6502 used in the Apple II and the Motorola 68000 family used in the original Mac, Atari ST and Amiga systems. However, the CPU that means the most to me is the Z80. Designed by Zilog and released in 1976, the 8-bit Z80... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2013 at Retro Thing
Yup. http://www.retrothing.com/2012/03/an-in-dash-tv-for-your-car-from-the-80s.html
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There have been several Altair 8800 remakes and emulations in recent years, but this brand new version by Mike Douglas does a great job of mimicking the impressive look and feel of the original without relying on outdated technology. Instead of a case crammed full of boards, a Microchip microcontroller is used to emulate an 8080A CPU running at 2... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2013 at Retro Thing
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Back in the late 1980s, the lowly audio cassette ruled dashboards around the globe. Most people made do with factory decks, but a sizable minority stepped into the often expensive world of aftermarket audio, which was dominated by brands such as Kenwood, Alpine, Blaupunkt, Panasonic and Sony. Lyle sent us a link to this wickedly high-end Kenwood KRC-999II deck from... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2013 at Retro Thing
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The UK's Open University has released a series of short and witty cartoons called Design in a Nutshell that serve up a bite-sized introduction to architecture. They cover an eclectic mix of Gothic Revivalism (with Goths naturally), Arts & Crafts, Bauhaus, Modernism, Postmodernism, and a chrome plated look at American Industrial Design. Instead of spending the next 15 minutes watching... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2013 at Retro Thing
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If you like grasshoppers, you'll love the 2CV. Despite its prehistoric styling, it was famed as the Citroen that seemed destined to live forever. The original 2CV appeared in 1948 and remained on the market in various forms until 1991. It's main claim to fame is the hideously designed roll-back roof. Apart from that, it offered a two cylinder 602... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2013 at Retro Thing
Looks like something that should stick out of a Dalek just beside the toilet plunger.
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