This is James Grahame's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following James Grahame's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
James Grahame
Calgary, Canada
Interests: Clever gadgets, electronic musical instruments, Super 8 movies, classic video games, pinball machines, elegant electronic design
Recent Activity
The Toshiba Childcrusher 100 XL I'd like you to meet my new bedroom TV. It's not fancy and it's not a flat screen, but I'm ecstatically pleased to save it from the landfill. Like millions of tube sets around the world, it was banished into storage almost 10 years ago. I told myself that perhaps it would be useful at... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2016 at Retro Thing
Updated. Thanks.
1 reply
The Mellotron is a tape sample playback keyboard from the 1960s that made an appearance on multiple Beatles albums, among others. Each key triggers a magnetic tape strip that runs for a maximum of 8 seconds, making it into a tremendously complicated version of a modern digital sampler. This British Pathé film is a wonderfully daft time capsule from 1965... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at Retro Thing
The Super 8 format is now 51 years old. It seemed destined for the scrap heap of forgotten formats, simply because there have been no new mass-produced cameras since the early 1980s. However, Kodak has other plans. Big Yellow shocked everyone at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by unveiling the prototype of a brand new Super 8... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2016 at Retro Thing
Great Big Story shot this fantastic short about Allen Chiang and his quest to restore as many pre-1970 vintage radios as he can. Even though classic terrestrial radio is considered a quaint anomaly these days, there's something charming and unpredictable about these old sets. I suspect he enjoys the challenge of working without service manuals and complete schematics, too... Giving... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2016 at Retro Thing
Zork is the quintessential text game. There's no need to click your mouse, maneuver a joystick or mash a d-pad. All you need is the ability to read, type and think somewhat logically. The amusingly clever text adventure was developed on a PDP-10 mainframe at MIT in the late 1970s. Three of the four original programmers went on to found... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2015 at Retro Thing
Each post ends up taking about an hour to find, research and write. Bohus and I simply don't have the time to invest in this hobby right now -- as much as we love writing the site. We both hope that we can get back into the swing of things in the future.
1 reply
The Ferrari Testarossa is a ridiculous car from a ridiculous era. And now the most ridiculous example of the species could be yours. This 1986 beast driven by Crockett & Tubbs originally sold for $85,000 and was placed in storage following the merciful cancellation of Miami Vice in 1989. It has 16,124 miles on the odometer and recently received an... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2015 at Retro Thing
It's a pretty damn well written book - one of the few in English - that covers the technical details of Soyuz in any depth. The first section of the book runs through a history of Vostok and Voskhod and the development of Soyuz. The remaining two thirds details Soyuz technical history, variants, and an excellent chapter that goes into the technical details of the TMA-M, along with docking techniques, diagrams culled from original manuals and so on. Unless you work for NASA Goddard or SP Korolev Energia, there's a lot to be gleaned from this book.
1 reply
I'm trying really hard not to buy this Haynes Owner's Workshop Manual for Soyuz space capsules. Haynes also publishes versions for the space shuttle, Mars landers (which could come in handy to resolve the recent short circuit problems plaguing Curiosity), the International Space Station and even Apollo 13. That one should come bundled with a roll of duct tape, a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2015 at Retro Thing
You should visit - lots of fantastic modular gear at (almost) reasonable prices. He sold the IP several years ago, so his legacy will continue.
1 reply
Perhaps it has something to do with Baby Boomer demographics, or maybe people are just looking for something different, but classic analog synthesizers are all the rage at this year's NAMM music industry show in Anaheim, California. Moog Music takes the crown with some absolutely breathtaking recreations of Bob Moog's groundbreaking modular synthesizer from the 1970s. They range from the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2015 at Retro Thing
You've probably heard of Moore's Law. It's the notion that the number of transistors in dense integrated circuits will double every two years. When Intel co-founder Gordon Moore threw out the idea in 1965, he had no inkling that his observation would hold true for the next 50 years. In 1971, the Intel 4004 microprocessor contained about 2,300 transistors. In... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2014 at Retro Thing
I'm a huge fan of classic H-P calculators, especially the HP-16C -- their first and only programmer's calculator. It has become a much sought-after collector's item, which ensures that good examples sell for insane amounts on eBay. That's not so great for those of us who actually want a real, honest-to-goodness programmer's calculator on our desks. Enter DM Swiss Made... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2014 at Retro Thing
Robin Lee writes, "A heavily-customised Oldsmobile said to be the first officially-licenced Batmobile will go to auction later in December. Created in 1963, three years before the infamously camp Batman TV show hit the airwaves, DC Comics allowed a US chap named Forrest Robinson to build a Batmobile." I love the swooping look of this prehistoric Batmobile and I'm somewhat... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2014 at Retro Thing
The Revox Man from Baucia on Vimeo. Alfredo Luiz Baucia writes, "I think you would like to know about the last Revox specialist still working in Brazil, Getulio Cinquetti." Indeed, we would. Alfredo took the time to capture a typical working day for Mr Cinquetti on video. The result is a nod to the past and a reminder that in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2014 at Retro Thing
The Internet Archive has long been one of the coolest sites on the web, thanks to its incredible collection of long-forgotten web pages and public domain films. They added home console games to the mix with the Console Living Room late last year, and now they've unveiled The Internet Arcade - a browser-friendly collection of classic arcade games that will... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2014 at Retro Thing
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
1 reply
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
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
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
$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
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
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
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