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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
Brilliant. I'm itching for Super 8 movie film. Having another source of color reversal is really, really important for those of us who love to shoot single reel shorts with only in-camera editing.
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2014 on Reviving An Old Film Brand at Retro Thing
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We're at a crossroad in digital imaging - that magical time in a technology's adoption curve where nearly everyone uses and enthuses about it. In a few years - perhaps five or ten - we'll see a small but determined group of people aggressively readopt traditional still and motion picture film as if it were a new technology. And that's... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2014 at Retro Thing
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Jeff Ledger writes, "We've been busy over the summer combining two Microcontroller chips to create a unique microcomputer that has retro 'feel,' and plenty of programming power. We called it the Micromite Companion. It's a kit computer that is programed in BASIC, capable of sprites, tiles, and SIDlike audio with 54K of programming space. The MMC also capable of communicating... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2014 at Retro Thing
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The Winnebago RVs of the late 1960s were boxy, lumbering beasts. Their metal facades were usually festooned with olive green, orange or yellow striping. They were the road-borne equivalent of vintage Kenmore kitchen appliances -- practical but definitely not likely to turn the heads of Porsche aficionados. The 2015 Winnebago Brave looks almost as if a vintage motorhome from the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Retro Thing
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$39.99 is all it costs to get your hands on the new ColecoVision Flashback console with 60 built-in games. Coleco's late entry into the early 80s console wars was one of my favorites, simply because it was the first to offer a near-arcade experience at home. The fact that the pack-in game was Donkey Kong didn't hurt things, either. This... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at Retro Thing
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Stern is the only major pinball machine manufacturer still in business. They seem to be tempting fate with their latest licensed machine, based on AMC's The Walking Dead. The zombie-themed show seems like an unusual pick for Stern, but perhaps the wild panic of trying to avoid a zombie hoard isn't that much different from the quest not to lose... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2014 at Retro Thing
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Have you heard? Watches are suddenly cool again. After years of encouraging us to tell time using phones, the major smartphone companies are now insisting that we need watches. Fancy electronic watches that talk and flash and vibrate and know when we go to the bathroom or decide to spontaneously climb a flight of stairs. They can even call 911... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at Retro Thing
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I loved building model kits when I was younger, but it never dawned on me how fun it would be to combine a Tamiya 1/16 kit of a WWII German King Tiger tank with a couple of miniature Regner Piccolo steam engines and a 3.5" marine boiler. This brilliant machine uses 100% steam propulsion, relying on batteries only for remote... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2014 at Retro Thing
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This newsreel footage of "boffin" Peter Zinovieff gives a bit of insight into how difficult it was to create electronic music in the 1960s. For several years, Zinovieff worked out if his futuristic shed with Delia Derbyshire (who pieced together the original ethereal Doctor Who theme) and Brian Hodgson on an ill-fated project to create and promote electronic music. Zinovieff's... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at Retro Thing
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Hank writes, "I recently completed an all-tube, zero solid state, dekatron and nixie tube clock that is built only with components that were available in 1959. It's not a reproduction, because it was never a product in the first place! You don't see them much anymore, but in this clock Dekatron tubes are probably the most important components because they... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2014 at Retro Thing
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Vince Briel seems to be on a one man quest to remake each and every cool 1970s microcomputer. His past designs include a tiny version of the Altair 8800, the Apple I, Commodore KIM-1 and even a VT-100 terminal emulator. His latest creation is a wicked version of the Ohio Scientific OSI 600, the Superboard III. It features a low... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2014 at Retro Thing
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I did something unusual the other day and charged up an old Nokia phone that's been lying around the house for at least five years. After a few exhilarating minutes wasted playing Snake, I decided to try using it as my main phone for a while. And so -- on day three -- my fancy smartphone is sitting impatiently in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2014 at Retro Thing
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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