I’m a sucker for old stuff. Particularly old technology. I love going to antique stores and flea markets to find old TVs, radios, and phones. There’s something about the way things were built and designed back in the old days that gave technology a sense of permanence and style.
While I enjoy looking at old technological creations, I enjoy using them even more. Unfortunately, most of the stuff created 50 to 100 years ago is no longer compatible with today’s digital technology. However, hackers and tinkerers who have an appreciation for vintage tech are finding fun and creative ways to repurpose old gadgets so they can be used again in the modern world.
Last year I inherited my grandpa’s old 1940 Philco radio. It looked fantastic and still worked, but it only played AM radio, so it didn’t get much use. I asked my brother-in-law (who’s an electrical engineer) if he could help me mod the radio so it could play the tunes on my iPod. He said “Of course!” and now I have an audio device with both 1940s charm and 21st century usability. I wrote up a tutorial on how others can replicate what we did, and it makes a great weekend project.
Remember old rotary phones? Of course you do. And I’m sure you were like me and got a kick out of dialing “0″ so you could spin the wheel all the way around and watch it click back into place. However, in a world that requires a touch-tone phone to navigate customer service systems, the humble rotary phone has died a slow and quiet death.