Home Tech Gadgets Tekkiepix connects 100 years of technology industry photography

Tekkiepix connects 100 years of technology industry photography

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A new web site conceived by journalist and broadcaster Barry Fox has been launched to bring together more than 100 years of technology industry photography in one place. The aptly-named Tekkiepix features a multitude of historic photos spanning more than a century of technical milestones and product launches – and the fascinating stories behind them.

2021 heralds the fiftieth anniversary of home video recording and the introduction of the consumer video cassette recorder – and this is just one of the industry breakthroughs documented by this unique site. For example, type ‘U-matic’ in the search field to discover when the first video recorder went on sale and to reveal who manufactured it.

No subscriptions or fees are required to use the site, which is a completely free, non-profit treasure trove of pictures and articles covering the history of home gadgetry before the days of Apple, Google, YouTube, Spotify and Netflix. Tekkiepix also includes a comprehensive timeline of consumer technology landmarks starting from 1877.

Intriguing stories

Founder Barry Fox commented, “Tekkiepix has taken a great deal of time, investment and hard work to prepare and publish. The Covid lockdowns have provided the opportunity for me to sort, digitise and meticulously index many piles of press and publicity photos that I had been storing in my garage and attic.”

So far, many hundreds of rare pictures have been processed and posted along with the intriguing stories behind each image. As a keen photographer, many of these pictures were captured by Barry personally at numerous product launch events, while others were issued by technology manufacturers over the years. Barry carefully archived the collection rather than disposing of the images. He added, “Tekkiepix is giving these publicity pictures the chance of a second life.”

There is much more material to be added, with boxes of negatives and transparencies still to be scanned, and Barry hopes that through donations from enthusiasts, or perhaps sponsorship by an interested organisation, he can expand Tekkiepix much further: “I have added a Donate button to encourage contributions. Through this support, I’ll be able to build the site and turn it into an even more valuable and educational resource for younger generations to appreciate in the future.”

Lasting record

Many of the companies that originally distributed the pictures to the media for PR purposes have long since closed or been sold. Barry believes this may be the only lasting record of these historically important photographs.

Over the past six months, Barry (who was a regular writer for New Scientist on consumer electronics and patents for around forty years, initially under the pen name Adrian Hope) has been generously assisted by former technology magazine editor Richard Dean in professionally re-vamping and expanding the original ‘DIY’ site design, with support from photographer and website designer John Kentish.


9 COMMENTS

  1. May I recommend reading the story about Alan Blumein on the web site. As a hi-fi buff. I have him to thank for the development of the theory of stereo reproduction. It was so sad that like many others, he died in a plane crash in the war.
    Also, without the the radar he developed for U boat hunting and the code breaking at Bletchley, it is doubtful whether the Battle of the Atlantic would have been won and that Great Britain would have been able to survive long enough for the USA to ultimately turn the tide.

    • There’s a slight mistake in the description – on Tekkiepix – of Blumlein’s stereo mic array: Barry Fox says “..Later he achieved the same effect with directional microphones which pick up sound only from the front; now know to recording engineers as a ‘Blumlein crossed pair’”.

      No; not “..pick up sound only from the front..” ..a ‘Blumlein crossed pair’ normally consists of a crossed pair of figure-of-eight pickup (usually ‘ribbon’) microphones; thus four signals, arriving from the front and rear of a pair of crossed mics. But that’s a minor error.

      • I will send this to Barry…. [later] Barry says

        Many thanks. I could do a Captain Mainwaring and pretend it was a deliberate mistake to see if anyone noticed. But it wasn’t. I had garbled it.
        Barry

  2. I am doing a similar timeline for a photographic history and I’m starting in the 1820s when fixed images could be created, which the real action starting with the daguerreotype and the calotype starting some years later. As with the digital world, obsolescence occurred many times with wet plates, dry plates, film etc. It is the same with electronic gear which has gone through many cycles in a much shorter period of time. Who here can remember the Sony BetaMax? Most people of my age in Ireland can remember the TV adverts for the Sony BetaMax with a woman with a posh Cork accent extolling its virtues compared to the humble VHS.

    As a collector, I am noting with interest the growth in the collectability of early digital devices, whether they are still working or not. I bought a Fujifilm digital camera in Schipol airport in 1997 on my way back from Finland. The photos it produced were terrible compared to what I could get then with a 35mm compact camera, but I regret having let go of it as it would now be an interesting artefact to own.

    I am glad that we now have the opportunity to look back at the past stream of electronic goods that are no longer available today, although yesterday I advised an Italian photographer, living in Ireland, where she might find 110 film cassettes to use in her late father’s 110 camera. Before I checked I had thought that such cassettes were no longer available. Some bit of the past is always with us.

    The ‘big question’ is always predicting whether a new form of technology might become mature and have a long term future or whether it will disappear in a new cycle of the latest and greatest. When they were young, I often told my two daughters (now both in their 40s), usually in the context of fashion and pop music, that what is now the latest and greatest would soonest become the most out of date. I must ask them now what they think of the fashion and pop music of the 1980s.

    William

    • As an inveterate early adopter, I was a convinced Betamax fan. I looked down on VHS, a standard shared by most of the rest of the industry. Apple and Android is a similar present-day analogy, although I doubt that Apple will go the way of Betamax. Most techies thought that Betamax was by far the superior system, posh Cork accent or not (perhaps William will post a recording… I’ve never heard this). My favourite shot from today’s article is the one of Sir Clive Sinclair holding his latest creation. If ever there were a stereotypical mad professor, Clive was it.

      • Oh Betamax I remember being able to rent videos and you had to decide – VHS or Betamax. Betamax was better quality, but VHS won round on cost and affordability as my memory recalls.

        Sony did not make the same mistake with the BluRay age, when it went up against the HD DVD disc.

        Sadly today physical media is sadly no longer the main player with the advent of video streaming at HD levels via our net connections.

        I do wonder what happens when the net blinks out.

        • Sorry to say, Dave. VHS won on porn (for Mum and Dad after the kids were in bed). Sony didn’t want that kind of thing on Betamax.
          If you can count the hairs on someone’s… er nose, your quality is too god 😉

    • 110 cassettes are readily available – in black-&-white ‘Orca’ brand anyway – via ‘Lomography’ and their website (..I’ve a cartridge beside me as I write this..) and (..pre-Covid..) in their shops, too ..oh, and I notice now on their website also in ‘Lomochrome’ colour!

      • Mike, I will do one for you when next we meet. I’ve tried to find that ad but have not found it yet. What I did find is that the Sony Betamax must have been one of the most advertised products of all time and still it failed.

        Yes, David, it was the Lomography 110 film that I recommended. I have an Instant Film back for using Fuji Instax film on a 5×4 camera on order from them at the moment. They are making some kind of ‘big announcement’ this Thursday, which I have mentioned to Mike. Before Covid, film sales were on a very strong upward curve. I expect this to continue.

        Back to the Future and all that.

        William

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