One Scan Per Week for Ten Years

February 1st, 2016 by Benj Edwards

Benj Edwards Vintage Computing Retro Scan of the Week Turns 10 Years Old - 10th Anniversary

On January 30th, 2006, I posted my first entry in the Retro Scan of the Week column: "When to Use Low Speed Modems." Below that first scanned image, I wrote:

I found this amusing, so I thought I'd share it. More to come.

I was right about that last sentence. Since then, I've shared weekly scans on my blog 522 times — every Monday for 10 years.

Yep, Retro Scan of the Week just turned 10.

While it is not an achievement on-par with, say, building the pyramids, working at the same company for 50 years, or hosting a late-night talk show for decades, I am slightly overwhelmed when I try to consider the scope of this anniversary and what it actually means to me personally.

Get Somma That Tinney ActionWhat I think it means is that I have been dedicated to preserving computer and video game history for an officially long time now (this blog itself turned ten last year). And I have always wanted to share it with others. Retro Scan of the Week has been a regular and effective way to achieve both goals.

For years, I have used the column as an opportunity to provide more than just images. When I could, I have attached personal commentary about the scans I'm showcasing because I hope it will give valuable context to future historians (assuming copies of my blog survive that long). Also, reader comments have been equally important in capturing the firsthand reactions to products and events over time.

Without that extra something that gives RSOTW its unique quality, I probably would have quit posting them years ago. But NOPE. 10 years.

The End of an Era?

On the occasion of this colulmn's fifth anniversary, I wrote a retrospective that is worth reading if you are interested in learning some historical background on my Retro Scan of the Week column. (There's also more about RSOTW in this interview from last year.)

Retro Scan of the Week ScannerThat earlier anniversary — coming in a different era where blogs and scans were slightly more relevant — felt more meaningful somehow. At that point, I had done something for a long time (in blog years). Now I've done it twice as long. And honestly, not much has changed in five years, other than the fact that I finally upgraded to an 11″x17″ large format scanner last year — and that there are twice as many scans on this blog.

But now that I have reached this milestone, I think I might be winding down the column some time soon. While it wouldn't be too hard to keep going for years on end, I think ten years is a nice emotional and philosophical cap to this project.

For now, I'll mull it over. It's a hard considering pulling the plug on something you've spent every Monday for ten years doing. But whatever happens, there will be a legacy left behind. At some point I plan to put all my high-res scans on the Internet Archive, for example. And RSOTW images still haunt Google Image Searches like nobody's business. I keep running in to my own work when I'm trying to research something else.

Whatever happens, it has been a fun 10 years. Thanks for reading along with me as we have rediscovered the past together.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] USB Instructions

May 27th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Kodak Scanner USB Instructions Insert Pink 4J3634 - 2005Words cannot express how hard it is to use USB plugs properly.

This is not particularly retro — in fact, it's from 2005. But I find it so amusing that I have to share it. I believe this insert (about 5 inches wide) came with a Kodak scanner that my father bought some years ago.

The back side of the paper is blank.

[ From Kodak Scanner Insert, 2005 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you read instruction manuals before using electronic gadgets?

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Digitized Autumn Leaves

January 11th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Autumn Leaves MaxiPic Jim Maxey Retro GIF - circa 1988Click to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

From 1983 to 1996, James "Jim" Maxey operated a very successful Oregon-based BBS called Event Horizons. Through that board's file section, Maxey made available thousands of GIF images in many categories, from landscapes to pornography, that he had created using a video digitizer board and conversion software called T-EGA.

Bob Talmadge wrote an excellent profile of Jim Maxey's BBS years for his site BBSDays.com. I recommend reading it if you're interested in learning more about Maxey's BBS. Also, Jack Rickard of BoardWatch magazine mentioned Maxey's early 1990s image-related BBS activities in an article he wrote for Wired issue 1.04 in 1993.

The early and pioneering nature of Maxey's color graphics files for IBM PC computers ensured that his digital pictures, which he called "MaxiPics," spread far and wide to other BBSes at the time. This is one such picture, and it depicts a house and yard in autumn. The 640 x 350 EGA format file dates from 1987 and was likely captured from a video source — more on that in a moment.

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VC&G's Retro Scanner Breaks

October 23rd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

The Retro Scan Scanner - an Epson Perfection 2480 PhotoAs a small administrative note, I'd like to mention that the scanner I've used for our Retro Scan of the Week column since its inception in 2006 crapped out on October 15th, 2012.

It up and died. The scanning head got stuck a few times, then the scans started returning blank white images. It's the digital equivalent to coughing up blood.

I've used the scanner, an Epson Perfection 2480 Photo, to scan thousands upon thousands of images, so it's amazing it has lasted this long. It would be amusing to see how many miles the scanning mechanism has traveled since I first received the scanner as a gift from my dad in 2004 or 2005.

I might be able to fix the unit, but I thought of a better solution. My father happened to have the exact same scanner model, which he hasn't used in many years. I picked it up on Sunday, dropped it in place of the old scanner, and it's like nothing has changed. So Retro Scan of the Week is saved.

Of course, new flatbed scanners cost about $50 these days, so it may be time for an upgrade. I'll think about it, but for now, the Epson Perfection 2480 Photo rides again!

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