Gizmos too great to trash

Gordon Gelfond (above) had this 1937 Airline radio refurbished.
Gordon Gelfond (above) had this 1937 Airline radio refurbished.
Posted: April 18, 2014

IN RESPONSE to a recent column about Gizmo Guy's gadget hoarding, readers shared stories and pictures about the old tech they can't give up. Each of them received an iTunes gift card for sharing their stories. Enjoy!

Gordon Gelfond, Villanova: I love listening to the Phillies on my 1937 Airline radio that I bought at a flea market and had restored. It reminded me of our family radio when I was very young.

We would sit in the living room, staring at the radio and using our imagination to visualize what we were hearing. People feel nostalgic and treasure ideas and relics from the past because it's all very sure and secure. You know exactly what happened then. There are no surprises. Not like the future - the great (and not so great) unknown.

Michael Tearson, Haddon Township, N.J.: I never thought I'd turn into a "Luddite" opposed to modern technology, but to a degree I guess I have. I still don't own a cellphone, still rely on a plug-in home phone and old-fashioned answering machine.

Not having a mobile phone slows down the pace of life, makes things more manageable. If people need to reach me, they can leave a message, dammit.

Helene Lazarus, Elkins Park: I loved the magic of Polaroid's instant photography, taking a picture and then having it pop out of the camera as a print that developed right in front of your eyes in a minute.

Taking a digital image with a cellphone is also fun and a lot less costly - not $1 a picture! But you can't stick that digital picture on the refrigerator door or slip it into your bag to carry around and show off. So I was really sad when Polaroid quit the business.

I've held onto a couple of their old cameras, hoping somebody else might start making the film. That hasn't happened, but Fujifilm now makes instant print cameras . . . so I got one. I don't think its pictures are as good, but my grandchildren are delighted when I use it.

Lesley Haas, West Mt. Airy: Small transistor radios were the hot thing when I was young in the '60s. These were the first radios you could stick in a pocket and listen to privately, either by holding the speaker side up to your ear or by plugging in a single earphone.

Two years ago, I found one at an estate sale. It's a Bell & Howell - a company known mostly for film cameras and projectors, but in the early transistor radio days every company wanted to put their name on one.

Since I don't own an iPod, I happily listen to WXPN (88.5 FM) on this little radio. The batteries last a long time. It's an oldie but goodie!

Mark Smotroff, San Francisco: I collect old music makers. One of my treasures is a Carron children's record player dated on the bottom from October 1952. This cute player is a wonderful hybrid of electric and acoustic technologies, designed to play only 78 rpm (and probably, mostly) children's records.

The sound comes out of the speaker in the headshell of the tone arm. The thing weighs a ton, so you kinda see the grooves wear away as it plays.

78s were made of shellac or other fragile plastics that could break or wear out relatively easily. They went away when the more portable 45 rpm disc was introduced, with its more resilient vinyl formations.

All that makes finding decent children's records and players like this all the more precious.

Watch a video of it playing at http://youtu.be/7BHpYtf7T5s 


Blog: philly.com/GizmoGuy

Online: ph.ly/Tech

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