Temporal Anomalies

I just finished retouching a scan of one of Dad’s slides from 1958. In the picture, Grandma is watching my cousin Bill, as a baby, by her living room table.

Bill and Grandma

Bill and Grandma

I was zoomed in at 100%, retouching away the dust spots and mold, moving over the picture millimeter by millimeter.

Inset of his hand

Inset of his hand

As I got to the section by his hand, I noticed he had his hand on a spent flashbulb.

If you saw one, would you even know what it was?

Back then, if you wanted to do interior photography of people, you used a flash gun with expendable glass bulbs filled with, I think, magnesium wire and oxygen that burned instantly to produce one pop of light. Dad must have used it for one of the previous pictures, set it down on the table, and the baby picked it up, as babies are wont to do.

One-shot flashbulbs were replaced with flashcubes when I was a teenager, soon to be replaced with electronic flash units, good for thousands of pictures, replacing calculations of guide numbers and distance and f/stops with automatic exposure.

It got me thinking—how much of our current everyday technology will be obsolete and unrecognizable in a few decades?

2 thoughts on “Temporal Anomalies

  1. Well, let’s see. When I learned how to edit videotape in the early ’70s, we were still using a liquid solution … painted directly onto the tape … which would show us (under a microscope) where the video pulse lines were. We would then cut the tape, physically, on those lines … then butt the ends together, and seal ’em with sticky tape.

    That “technology” was already gone at most TV stations, but where I was, there was no budget for anything more modern.

    As for today’s technology … My absolute favorite thing in the world is my 160-gig iPod, because I could fit over 5,000 songs on it … most in .wav file quality. But I found out, several weeks ago, that Apple will no longer be making, selling, or servicing them.

    And just yesterday, I was reading an article about how some of the politicians — and the big communications companies that own them — are trying to phase out telephone land lines, because most people use cell phones now. My objection to this is, I’ve never heard a cellphone that could come close to the landline in terms of audio quality.

    Oh well. Progress progresses.

  2. Gene,
    One of the funny things about landlines is that an icon of a handset is still the generally recognized symbol for a telephone – but a lot of kids and young adults now have never seen one.

    I suspect if you handed them a 135 cartridge of 35mm film, they wouldn’t know what to do with it either.


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