Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Vintage wireless

My father is an extraordinary tinkerer - and lately he's been geeking out on antique crystal radio sets like these and these and these. (Did you know that crystal sets have no oscillator so, say, the government or police can't determine the frequency you're listening to?) Anyway, it was my dad who got me interested in the beginnings of radio and early wireless, and reminded me that what I study has a pretty long history.

When I was visiting last month, he showed me a few old crystal sets he'd reconstructed and a stunning horn loudspeaker he'd scored. Since crystal radios are only AM receivers, he was telling me that he planned to modify a case so that it housed an FM receiver. I got really excited because it meant that this antique radio and loudspeaker could then be used to listen to music via my iPod/iTrip. I mean, how cool would that be?! I could just hear and feel the warm fuzziness...

Now it turns out I'm not the only one to be thinking along those lines. Today's Wired news reports:

"In the back streets of Tokyo's upscale Aoyama district, there's a little antique store quite unlike all the others in the neighborhood. Located on the second floor of an old apartment building, And Up specializes in selling antique radios and, of all things, iPods. The store's owner, 50-year-old Takeyuki Ishii, recommends plugging an iPod into an FM transmitter and listening to music through the speaker of an antique radio. Ishii believes there is aural magic in the combination of the very old with the very new. Playing an iPod through an old radio or tube-driven amplifier gives it a special warmth and atmosphere, he says...

"I want these kids to know the great culture we had as well as some of the great engineering and design work of the mid-20th century," he said. "The industrial goods of today become obsolete too fast. We aren't given enough time to digest them. I think now is a good time to stop, look back and learn from some of the great work we have begun to forget."


And speaking of old-meeting-new, I dig the look of Nokia's new 1920s-inspired fashion collection. (via)


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