Some history before I share an idea….
Somewhere around 1976, I had a home computer running, my most understanding Wife watched my interest grow into a near obsession. Wire wrap tools, soldering irons, all made their way into the family room, and I remember the high cost of those early and power hungry 2Kx8 memory chips she bought me for Christmas.
A fond memory was one of her Girl Friends coming over on the day I first boot strapped the processor up, and got a simple message out ‘hello world’ followed by a few beeps through the speaker, it was before I even had a terminal. The woman put her hands on her hips and said “well now that you have this running, what are you going to do with it?”
A man learns not to justify his toys early in life, it never turns out well.. ” I told her it was a toy, and I’d continue to play with it.” At the time I was rather proud of myself, as I knew she had expected me to rationalize the time and expense I had invested.
Since that time, I have watched the mind-boggling advances in computer science, and so many of us have tossed out a lot of cool stuff thinking it was obsolete. Many of us have had ideas to do all kinds of crazy stuff, but we kept thinking someone else has already done it, or soon would..
One of my crazy ideas was to build a big X Y plotter frame with typical stepper motors.. all light weight fiber glass or aluminum with suction cups in all four corners. Maybe five feet by nine feet in dimension, and capable of covering a four by eight foot area.
The print head would be off the shelf air brushes, and the whole thing would fit inside a van. At Christmas time, you’d load up the van with water based paint, and paint Christmas scenes on store windows, and of course a built in laser pointer and level would allow you to move the frame and stitch the frames together for a larger scene.
Of course you could do sign boards on the fly with more permanent paint, and even photograph existing signs and make new ones for a Proprietor on the spot! Funny thing, I’ve been looking to see a van set up like this for over thirty years now, and haven’t seen it. Is it possible that some Tagger will get caught with one painting Grafitti first?
I ponder all the advances since I visualized this service as a small and mobile business. Now days we could use a wireless connection, or even mount an android phone on the frame and do the processing on the WEB, Lithium batteries might also do away with the requirement for a power cord back to the van, and this would greatly enhance the usefulness of the frame, we could paint from the window washer’s platform on the sixth story!
I have mentioned Jeri Ellsworth before, she grew up with a Comodore 64, and learned it inside and out. Jeri knew how much fun the C64 was and marketed a joy stick with what equated to a C64 computer with many popular games built-in! It was a great success, and obviously a lot of other people might have thought to do the same and dismissed it as a viable idea.
One thing we see over and over again, at some age, people are attracted to things they were exposed to in their younger years, take Ford for instance, they did a very successful redesign on the Ford Mustang and grew the market to include a bunch of old guys that could afford to walk into the show room and buy a car that reminded them of the one they owned as a kid, and younger people appreciated the good looks too 🙂 I mention this because this is most predictable, and we need remind ourselves that generations are only 20 years apart, and there’s always a new crop of people wanting to experience the joys of childhood memories, there’s money to be made helping them enjoy the past.
With all this said, you know there is every kind of collector out there, I have a friend who makes the rounds to Thrift Stores and buys up old computers, he has a small warehouse full of old stuff, and he enjoys buying and selling on Ebay, there’s a following, and money to be made.
Considering all of this, I think about tools, parts, and support for some of these collectables. Jeri Ellsworth has even designed replacement parts for stuff no longer available (Example: Pin Ball Machines) and people are grateful for what she does.
Many of us remember the first hard drives available to hobbyists, around 5-6 mega bytes of storage back when the CPM operating system was popular among microprocessor hobbyists, (before folks knew who Bill Gates was). What Jeri Ellsworth knows along with a good many others is the Comodore Amiga was light years ahead of the IBM and clones, and we had to wait for what seemed like eternity for the IBM PC to catch up with the Amiga. It’s a valuable lesson that the best of ideas aren’t necessarily the ones that win the race or set the standard.
We watched as the capacity of Hard Drives grew, and some of us may have forgotten about the time we couldn’t imagine what all we’d keep on a 10MB disk! Yes, those were the days when ASCII was near everything. Maybe it’s best we recall all the limitations of either the operating system or the file system, and we should remember that FAT16 could only handle a maximum of 2 GB because of 16 bit calculations on clusters, tracks, etc. Check the size of that little memory card in your cell phone, it’s up to 64 GBs today!
Just the other day, I was looking for an inexpensive camera to do some time-lapse with. I was a little surprised to see such a void in features in the present line of inexpensive cameras, and with build in timers for a delay of seconds, I don’t see many cameras with a remote shutter where we might be able to exploit such a feature for the purpose of time-lapse over a period of days or weeks.
With a few google searches, I was able to find a few older cameras that sold for more than $1000 dollars new that had these features, and I easily bought one off eBay for $40! What if got was good optics, with a remote power jack, I can put this all in a weather proof box for time lapse and take one picture a day for a year if I want to. But.. there it was.. a built in memory limitation of 512 MBs 🙁
As you might know, the compact flash memory cards emulate hard drives, and their standards followed hard drive developments and matched the limitations. The ceiling for this camera (due to its operating system) is 512MBs period.
Perhaps, there’s room for a new device to support old toys? A compact flash that is compatible with the old stuff like this camera I bought? Maybe the first version would use a connector and ribbon cable that hangs out of an open door on a camera or other device and moves files onto an SD card of 32 or 64 GBs of capacity. The Compact Flash Storage Card emulator moves files out of the 512 MB area the camera knows about, and moves it to an area within the addressable SD Card area, files might use a creation date and time stamp so we might put them in order for a time lapse presentation, etc.
The larger question might be.. how much value would a product like this this add to toys we already have, including the ones we had in our younger years that we might want to play with again? Few of us would go through the trouble of setting up a C64 to play few fun games, and few of us would bother with an older camera regardless of the quality of the optics, BUT.. what if there was a Compact flash Memory device like I describe?
If you find what I’m looking for, let me know, just scroll down and leave a comment.. and thanks for your time to read this..