Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Mixed Nostalgia

A bit of an assortment again for this entry. I've been going through a few of my old web pages from the Freeserve days, long before the blog started. Over the years 2002-2004 I featured the following items.

The first one is the old Space Tower from Blackpool Pleasure Beach. It had ended its days in Morecambe at the short-lived incarnation of Morecambe Pleasure Beach as Frontierland.

Frontierland was a mid-1980s attempt to "theme" the park as a wild west town. We may not be as grim up north as the jokes make out, but the average worker does in fact feel just a little self-concious I expect, wearing western garb and yelling "Yeehaw!" every now and then. As I remember, they didn't smile or enter into the spirit of the thing as much as their Disney counterparts over in Florida might have done. Frontierland closed down in 1999 although a few portable rides remained in use for a further year.

By the end of 2000 only the Polo Tower and the Log Flume remained. These photos were taken in 2004 and the Polo Tower remained only because it was in use as a telephone mast. It was to remain a while longer as the contract was in force until 2013.

A 1960s Fidelity tape recorder taking seven inch reels of a quarter inch wide magnetic tape and recording at a speed of three and three quarter inches of tape per second. This is a four-track machine. That means that a bit of sound quality was sacrificed in order to record along the tape twice in each direction. Imagine four stripes along the tape - stripe 1 along one edge of the tape is recorded on as the tape passes from its own spool to the spare. Then the spools are turned over and the now full spare spool is transferred to the left hand spindle. On the next pass, stripe 4 on the other edge of the tape now occupies the same position as stripe one had done.

Next the Track 2-3 switch at the bottom centre of the tape deck is depressed and the two middle tracks can be recorded on over the next two passes. On some models both stripes 1 and 3 could be recorded on during the same pass, allowing a stereo signal to be recorded. On turning the tape over the next pass would record on stripes 4 and 2. On this machine that wasn't possible but you could record twice the amount of music on a tape.

I used to have a similar Fidelity Playmaster but it was only a twin track machine - one stripe being recorded in each direction. No stereo and no push button 1-4 and 2-3 buttons in the middle. In fact the space taken by those buttons on the machine shown held a magic-eye light which acted like a sound level meter when recording.

I'm sure many of you will recognise this little optical piece of equipment. It's a View-Master - it was used for viewing a stereo (see the clever link with the previous item? What? Oh, yes the Polo thing was just a red herring...) Ahem! It was used for viewing a stereo pair of images to give the illusion of a picture in 3D, 3 dimensions with a feeling of depth. They were really popular in the 1950s and very early 1960s which is when this bakelite version dates from. Later they were plastic and bright red and the View-Master reels you could buy changed from photos of the world to naff subjects like Scooby Doo and other cartoon figures.

In other words, they changed from being aimed at adults to being a child's toy. In the mid 1960s I had quite a collection of reels showing scenes of the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland and a set that showed the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

What I always wanted in my early teens - but never actually managed to get - was a View-Master stereo camera which let you take your own 3D photos. Taking 3D photos is not hard. You can do it with a normal camera just by taking a photo, moving the camera six inches to one side and taking another - providing the subject does not move in the meantime... The hard bit is in viewing them so that one eye only sees one of the photos and the other eye only sees the other. They have to be lined up just so. It is possible for the eyes to actually move apart a bit too much - which is why watching 3D films in the days of green and red glasses made your eyes so tired. All my View-Master reels got thrown away long ago in some great Mum-induced tidy-up. Shame...

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