Sunday, January 02, 2011

Lost analog memories

My brother Dennis still had the tape recorder.

Our famiily gathered for Christmas in Cooperstown last week.  Dennis brought the old Grants tape deck, a small portable player/recorder with three settings:  play, rewind, record.  He and I had used it to record the Christmas Eve broadcast from Apollo 8 in 1968.  We both think it also contains other music and commentary that we recorded during our early teen years.

The brown tape ran on two reels about three inches in diameter, and looked to be in fairly good shape; the box, which measures about 11 inches across and eight inches wide, came with a cover.  We bought fresh batteries -- two C's and a 9volt -- and inserted them; the positive/negatives both faced the same direction, something rare in devices today.

Dennis hit the play button, and the motor dragged the tape at less than optimum speed.  It emitted a low sound at various points, as if a voice were speaking in very slow motion from the bottom of a well.  The reels turned in fits and starts, and he turned it off.

The tape still contains memories.  The 40-year box just is not the device to bring them to reality.  Oh well, thank goodness for new technology -- we can see the whole thing thanks to digital archiving and the internet.

[Incidentally, I highly recommend the White House Inn if you ever visit Cooperstown -- a very welcoming and comfortable B&B.  Ed, Margie, Pattie and Mary are excellent hosts, and it is a fine gathering place.]

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