The good old days

So, I’ve just spent a couple of hours reading the threads of a recent b3ta QOTW on the subject of redundant technology and there are a couple of absolutely fantastic posts that I felt that I just had to share!

The first is this one on the subject of The Handy Boys Book – an absolutely fabulous tome; originally from 1910 but regularly reprinted up until the time that the Health & Safety madness took over and left us with this poor imitation.  

You can see why it is no longer politically correct for it to be still in print from the various activities it suggests boys should get up to in the safety(?) of their bedroom or kitchen.  But don’t you agree that it is more than a little infuriating that they got to do it back then but kids of our generation (including girls!) don’t?  All this H&S nonesense is enough to drive one bonkers!

Ok, so maybe I wasn’t ever going to build a Wimshurst Machine high-voltage generator or a proper x-ray camera back when I was growing up but the world might be a better place if it was still ok to do it with your kids now if you wanted (wearing hard-hat, goggles and high visibility lead vest if you must) without the threat of social services breaking down the door!  Buy a copy of the book and dare to be a little subversive!  I just have… an excellent Christmas present for my youngest nephew me thinks.

The second thread features this image… and the clock – resplendent with (what I thought were) vacuum tubes protruding from that lovely wooden case – set against the 1940’s phone really caught my eye (as did the warm glow of the picture highlighted by non-flash photography from a rather more contemporary digital camera).  

Further reading introduced me to the fabulous topics of Nixies, Pixies and Dekatrons (no vacuum tubes here my friend!) – just the names of these things seem plucked straight from an episode of Flash Gordon (*bless*).  Even more interesting is what people are doing with these bits of kit today – and oh my I could seriously start lusting after one of those clocks!  Not sure if I prefer the simplicity of the simple hour/minute specimens on the low bases like those designed by Michael Barile and Bill Richards , or for sheer horology complication – the behemoth from René van den Endenafter with every conceivable microprocessor controlled nixie and dekatron feature.  Genius, pure genius!

And finally something that I too intend to soon fulfil – a return to the good old days of technical drawing.   It is perhaps the only thing that I am aware of that where I may be approaching a genuine talent (and I did get an A* with distinction equivalent grade at school for my efforts).

To draw properly you need a real drafting table (yes you do) and the most fabulous one that I have ever seen is this beauty from Nike Hydraulic (Swedish obviously…) from around 1940. 

When Richmond council finally approves our loft conversion, and we get the space for a proper study/office here at home – pride of place will be a drafting table and if there is a spare $19,500 (if I win the lottery… ho hum) it will be one of these.  No doubt, no question – an order will be placed immediately – swiftly followed by an order for a Nixie/Pixie/Dekatron masterpiece.


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