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Nerdy/Geeky Things

Geek Nostalgia

Here are some views of hardware from yesteryear. I have limited the selection to pieces of hardware that I have used in the past, including, some I still have. The years indicated in parentheses are the periods when I owned or used these items.

National Radio NC-98 Communications Receiver (1956 or 1957)

I got my first amateur radio license when I was 10 years old, in 1955. This photo is from a larger photo of my ham shack, taken in 1956 or 1957. The NC-98, coupled with a Globe Chief transmitter, was my first receiver and transmitter.

ASR 33 Teletype (1971 to 1976)

When I was working at Western Electric's Engineering Research Center in Princeton, NJ, the ASR 33 was our workhorse computer output device. We also had a storage-screen terminal made by Tektronix, the oscilloscope manufacturer, but this was the main output device.

The ASR 33 was painfully slow by today's standards, but was used by some to play computer games. One was a Startrek game that, after firing weapons, but painfully print out the next situation as you waited while the terminal clickety-clacked away.

Japanese-Made Nikkor Lens (50mm/F1.4 Auto Nikkor SC) (2010 to present)

This lens was manufactured before the Ai series of lenses appeared. I purchased it in Osaka one time and had it modified to fit on my current Nikon D810. It is super heavy and radiates that wondrous heavy feel of lenses from the days when men were men and lenses were lenses. These days, Nikon lenses are mostly made in Vietnam or China.

Vacuum Tube Communications Receivers (Collins R390A) (1966 to 1969)

This was one of the main receivers I used in the USN during the 1960s, when I was listening to enemy communications (hint: I was a Russian linguist).

IBM Selectric Typewriter (1976 to 1984)

I had two Selectrics when I started translating full time around 1979. When the Selectric appeared, it was an amazing machine. When the version with the correction ribbon appeared, many (including the author) thought that this would never be surpassed as a tool for creating typed documents. We were very innocent.

Slide Rule (Hemmi Model 34RK)

Until the appearance of affordable multifunction calculators in the early 1970s, the slide rule was the calculation tool of choice of geeks all over the globe. Japan's slide rule culture was quite amazing, and it persisted for a few years after people were using HP35 or TI-50 calculators in other countries.