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Old 6th Dec 2018, 9:19 pm   #1
G6Tanuki
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Default Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

Just wondering, what bits of vintage-technology were 'christmas traditions' in your childhood?

In the 1960s/1970s, for us December meant movie-time! We had relatives in Australia, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany - and given the rates BOAC/QANTAS/PAN-AM charged for flights back then there was no way it made sense to travel to see your relatives over the festive season (a return-flight from UK to Oz cost about as much as a new Mini). So we traditionally swapped Super-8 home-movies as a way to keep in touch.
The start of December would see the arrival of the first "recorded delivery" package containing a spool of film - then we'd load it up on the Eumig projector and watch it while one of us read out the accompanying notes - of the "This is Jo and Malcolm petting a kangaroo..... this is our new house.... here is Kim falling into a snowdrift" nature.

Then when we'd watched it a few times we packaged it up and sent it on to the next family on the list. (there was of course no easy/cheap way to duplicate Super-8 so each spool had to be sent round all the family-members on all continents).

Then on Christmas day - remembering the timezones - we'd phone each-other for a short chat (again, when you were paying a pound a minute you kept calls short!).

We kept up the Super-8 round-robins until the very-late-70s by which time everyone had got VCRs and horribly-bulky cameras. Colour! Sound!! But "We can't play your videos properly!" and "You're using Beta, we're VHS" standards-issues led to this being really unsuccessful.

In parallel to the festive-season Super-8 interchange, us youngsters who'd got cassette-recorders in the early-70s kept up a regular interchange of tapes - usually random teenage-angst-type of stuff interspersed with off-the-radio recordings of our current favourite music. I remember that back then you could buy special cardboard "tape-mailer" envelopes from places like Tandy, so you could send your cassettes to Australia without needing to include the plastic storage-case.

Do any of you have similar family festive-vintage-technology traditions?
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 9:40 pm   #2
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

The film show is the memory I remember as well. Early 70's, Christmas day, my uncle would bring the Chinon C300 projector in and set up the screen, extension cable and boxes of carefully edited 8mm silent film. The expensive paraphernalia fascinated me as a child and when one year the lamp blew and he replaced it in front of me with a spare always kept in the carry case, I was hooked.

My dad also shot 8mm but didn't have a projector until we were grown up! So stacks of 50ft reels lay unwatched in the wardrobe until my uncle came. The image of me unwrapping my presents whilst half-blinded by his 1000W cineflood and Sankyo Super CM whirring away will stay with me forever!
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 9:51 pm   #3
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

The first record player in our household arrived in the early 60s and my mother got from the World Record Club an LP of Christmas songs and music called "Winter Sunshine". I think it was a bit jazzier than she expected but I liked it and it came out every Christmas when I was at school. At some point the player and the records ended up in the loft.

Time passes and the inevitable happens and the records came to me. A few years ago I finally got a vintage Philips player of the period and rekindled some memories. I can report that "Winter Sunshine" is due to have the dust blown off once more.
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 10:51 pm   #4
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

We now have the set of tree lights that my parents bought, for their first Christmas when they married, 1972.

Tradition was, my father & I wiggling each lamp in turn to find the loose connection and 'hey-presto' it was usually the last one!

Now I'm a father and myself & daugher are keeping the lamps alive ... there's only 20 filament lamps on the green skinny 2-core cable, wired in-series, but they give off a wonderful/colourful glow.

Finding replacement lamps these days is getting difficult.

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Old 6th Dec 2018, 11:04 pm   #5
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

I remember the World Record Club, we used to get tapes from them not records as we had an HMV tape recorder by no record player at home.

Gordon
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 11:22 pm   #6
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

The 12 light Christmas Tree Set with one big single wire loop from bayonet plug and back would definitely be vintage now, but then (early '60s) it was just a few years old. The "chase the loose/dead bulb" routine was soon replaced by a systematic method involving taking out the first bulb at the hot end and poking in the holder with a neon tester and so on down the line until the set came on or a dead bulb was found and replaced.

Has anyone restarted the vintage Christmas lights thread yet?

Edit: I see it was killed off at the beginning of last year.....
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 11:42 pm   #7
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

I remember my parents having to faf around with fairy light bulbs, one set was so troublesome that my Mum bought a new set that used the same bulbs & cannibalised the working ones from the old set.

When my Aunt & Uncle got an early LED flashing set in the early 1990s it seemed very high tech in comparison.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 5:16 am   #8
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

Apart from a very few fleeting memories, I have no recall of Christmas past or any traditions that might have been.

About the only thing that stands out was us kids sitting down with mum and making various Christmas decorations out of coloured paper and glue.

It just doesn't feel like Christmas when it's 42C outside, like it is now, snow is much more my thing.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 8:42 am   #9
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

No technology in our home when a kid. House only had gas with battery wireless.

Bought packets of paper chains and sat gluing them together. Opened up paper bells
to hang up too.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 9:09 am   #10
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

For me it would have been playing my 45rpm record of Merry Christmas by The Slade over and over again much to my mums dismay , I think we had a Black box at that time so I guess that's my contribution to the vintage Christmas thread.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 10:32 am   #11
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

My uncle ran a shop and lived in the upper floors . At Christmas in the early 1940's we visited and were treated to a film show. He had in the attic a 35mm silent projector. I was transfixed by old films of Laurel and Hardy and other black and white cartoons.

I cannot remember any details about the projector itself.

In later years he scaled down to 16mm, with a Victor Model 40 sound projector. Happy days!
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 11:10 am   #12
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

One of my earliest memories (I was probably 3 or 4 years old?) was watching films projected on a bed sheet on the longest wall in our living room. My father was the projectionist for a film club where he worked so we got to see the films before anyone else! Two that stuck in my mind and are still firm favourites are "The day the earth stood still" and "The day the earth caught fire"! Not exactly Christmas movies but I do remember the ceiling being festooned with decorations, our tree had some fascinating lights too. A glass tube sealed at the top with a liquid inside, the bulb was at the base in a decorative shroud, once the bulb had warmed up the liquid a little it would send up tiny bubbles. No idea where father got those from! Sometimes it was best not to ask!
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 11:32 am   #13
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

My Christmas memory was having a Christmas carols LP and playing it on a Dansette Burmuda record player my father had won from Reader's Digest earlier in the year. Still have the record to this day from 1966, I was five at the time.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 11:48 am   #14
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

For me, it was the smell furniture polish combined with that of a freshly-unwrapped new E-180 VHS cassette, specially bought from Woolworths, for mum or dad to record something special on our then-new Hitachi VT-11E video. That, and it's quiet, reassuring whirr, with its LEDs glowing away in the corner, the hiss of the gas fire and the purr of the cat.

My brother and I had to make do with the E-60 which came with the machine to record Knight Rider, The A-Team, The Goodies, The Young Ones, Benny Hill, The Kenny Everett Television Show or whatever we considered might be worth watching twice.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 12:32 pm   #15
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

Fairly low tech memories in my case, mainly locating the failed bulb in a series string.
At a young age I was sent to various neighbours to "get the Christmas lights working"

I recall some people having home made Christmas lights that used pilot lamps in series because they could obtain these from work, rather than buying proper Christmas light bulbs.

40 lamps in series, each a 6 volt 0.3 amp panel lamp was popular. These could be coloured by dipping in lacquer sold for the purpose. Finding the failed lamp out of 40 was a lot worse than with 12 series lamps.

My uncle, who had previously owned a radio and electrical shop, had Christmas lights that consisted of numerous 120 volt, 15 watt candle bulbs in series pairs, because he was stuck with a surplus of these.

I also remember bright metal plated Christmas decorations that were intended to hang over a light and rotate in the warm air current, the rotation was intended to play a tune as the rotating part struck minute bells or chimes. They never worked very well, and in retrospect I suspect that they were intended for use with gas or oil lamps, not electric.
(similar novelties are still made today, but to stand on a table and rotate in the hot air from candles)
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 1:18 pm   #16
G4YVM David
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

Vintage tech, no, but as we had no freezer my sister and I would stand cups of orange squash outside so that they'd freeze and hopefully we would have ice lollies on Christmas day! Seems a million miles away from most Western kids these days.

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Old 7th Dec 2018, 1:56 pm   #17
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

In kindergarten we had christmas lights from the double bayonet adapter. We made paper lanterns to put over them. Nothing wrong with paper next to hot filament bulbs and five-year-olds.

At home when we got christmas lights on the tree we were only allowed to have them on if we were looking at them. No point in wasting electricity.

I remember getting a Bush LED clock-radio, and being taken to choose a cassette recorder, for either christmas or birthday. And one year I got a Tandy Lots-in-One electronic project kit with all those wire springs in a cardboard base.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 2:19 pm   #18
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

On my travels i have noticed a house in my locality that has a gas lamp next to the front porch, which looks recent and operational. I have a hope that it is something that they light up for the 12 days of Christmas, I shall probably make a polite enquiry as to whether I can take a photo of it lit up nearer the time.

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Old 7th Dec 2018, 2:27 pm   #19
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

I can remember being PAID to make some 6 volt Christmas lights for rich relatives.
A lit Christmas tree was wanted in the middle of the dining table for Christmas dinner without the trip hazard of a trailing wire. Power from a 6 volt vehicle battery under the table.

I also made strings of lights that give a reasonable run time from dry batteries. 2.5 volt, 0.06 amp bulbs in series pairs from a 6 volt dry battery.
20 lamps in 10 series pairs were 0.6 amps in total and give at least a dozen hours use from a 6 volt lantern battery.

For the 1970s power cuts I made some 12 volt Christmas lights with the common 12 volt, 1.1 watt bulbs wired in parallel. The red, blue, green, and orange lamps were powered from the mains via a small transformer.
The white lamps changed over to a 12 volt battery when the mains failed.
Having only one lamp in five switching to battery gave a decent run time from an old car battery, and the light was still impressive when all else was in darkness.
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Old 7th Dec 2018, 3:17 pm   #20
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Default Re: Festive vintage technology traditions/memories.

My Lego lighting up brick, it wasn't vintage then 54 years ago, perhaps it started me on the electronic career* path.

*career as in going down a hill out of control!
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