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#368128 - 30/12/2016 18:39 What is this shiny device?
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
One of the recent Rifftrax shorts was "Home of the Future" aka "AD 1999", which was a Philco/Ford short film from 1967 which was the typical "everything will be push button automatic in our future utopia, thanks to PHILCO!" kind of fare. Kinda like "Design for Dreaming", only without the dancing and the weird beat poetry.

One brief shot from the short was an extreme close up of a panel of what was supposed to be a computer. I was, for a while, convinced that what I was really looking at was an oscillator bank from an old analog synth, like a Moog or something. But I couldn't find a matching one in google image searches.

At some point I realized that it was likely a shot of an analog computer. Which, to be honest, is not that different from an old analog synth: Same kind of patching system and control interface, similar electronics. But, again, I can't figure out which one it is. It bears a passing resemblance to Telefunken units I see in a Google image search, but can't find anything exactly matching.

Anyone know the exact model?


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#368129 - 30/12/2016 22:28 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
The entire shot is at the 11:50 mark on the YouTube copy of the original, unriffed short:

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#368132 - 30/12/2016 23:47 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
larry818
old hand

Registered: 01/10/2002
Posts: 956
Loc: Fullerton, Calif.
Philco/Ford was pretty cutting edge, I'd think even in 1967 they would not have had an analog computer. I toured their Newport (I think it was) facility a few times around 1970 with my dad. Awesome stuff.

I think what you're looking at is some kind of test rack with some production modules (like the old Tek plug-in stuff) and some custom made panels.

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#368134 - 31/12/2016 01:12 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3653
Wild guess, but that photo might be a closeup of an oscilloscope. The knobs and such look a bit like Tektronix gear of a certain vintage.

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#368135 - 31/12/2016 01:36 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
A 'scope with that many patch cables?

On the other hand, an analog computer is really just a super-fancy oscilloscope at its heart. So maybe the line between the two is blurred at either end of the scale.

Still, I think it really looks like something along these lines, I'm just having trouble finding an exact match:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vienna_-_Telefunken_RA_463-2_analog_computer_-_0150.jpg
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Tony Fabris

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#368136 - 31/12/2016 01:55 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: larry818]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: larry818
Philco/Ford was pretty cutting edge


I'm surprised at how many things their vision of the future got right (though maybe just a few years early), and how many things were wrong in hilariously interesting ways.

For instance, online internet shopping is shown; very prescient. But then it says that the store she's shopping at is a brick-and-mortar store with a set of live cameras feeding her pictures of the wares on the shelves.

Telecommuting, and online banking and bill pay, those were pretty much spot on as depicted, except for the part where the guy had to view grainy microfiche pictures of his bills and his bank statement, and then had to print out the bill in order to balance it.

It's like they could imagine connectivity, and the things we might want to do with that connectivity, but no concept of how the input/output would function. The 60's vision of the future always figured everything would be voice control or dedicated buttons for each task. I guess the futurists didn't like typing, so they ignored the existence of keyboard terminals?
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#368137 - 31/12/2016 01:58 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
snowcrash
journeyman

Registered: 11/07/2013
Posts: 60
Originally Posted By: tfabris
The entire shot is at the 11:50 mark on the YouTube copy of the original, unriffed short:



Emma Peel?

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#368138 - 31/12/2016 02:01 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
No, but the husband is Wink Martindale.
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#368150 - 03/01/2017 10:44 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
Roger
carpal tunnel

Registered: 18/01/2000
Posts: 5528
Loc: London, UK
Originally Posted By: tfabris
how many things were wrong in hilariously interesting ways.


In Clarke's "Holiday on the Moon", there's a bit where they get a phone call from the father, who's an astronomer on the moon. Two things wrong with this: not using a remote (robot) observatory; and the fact that they have to take the call on a landline in the kitchen.

Futurism's weird.
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-- roger

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#368153 - 03/01/2017 19:16 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
Yes, exactly! It's not funny when a futurist is simply wrong about something, but it's hilarious when they get things slightly wrong in *that way*.
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Tony Fabris

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#368154 - 03/01/2017 19:21 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
The other fun one, which persisted in a lot of sci-fi until very recently, always depicted computer and robot interaction as having:
- Perfect voice recognition, including the computer understanding context.
- Simultaneously combined with terrible halting machine-like speech synthesis from the computer.

... when in fact the opposite has turned out to be true.
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#368156 - 03/01/2017 21:09 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13506
Loc: Canada
What do you mean, Dave?

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#368160 - 03/01/2017 22:40 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: mlord]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
Agreed, 2001 is a notable exception.

One of my favorite films, partly because its futurism is generally more accurate than most sci-fi of the time (though not perfect, and significantly off in timescale, and of course it didn't predict the demise of Pan Am).
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Tony Fabris

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#368162 - 04/01/2017 10:05 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
Roger
carpal tunnel

Registered: 18/01/2000
Posts: 5528
Loc: London, UK
Originally Posted By: tfabris
the demise of Pan Am


Might still happen: who owns the rights to the name and logo? smile

Edit: found it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilford_Transportation_Industries, who do railway stuff (?!)
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#368163 - 04/01/2017 13:20 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
Wow.

Reading Wikipedia article on Pan-Am and all the things that happened. Just crazy.

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#368180 - 06/01/2017 12:18 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
Tim
veteran

Registered: 25/04/2000
Posts: 1437
Loc: Arizona
Originally Posted By: tfabris
- Perfect voice recognition, including the computer understanding context.
I upgraded my XBone to a XBone S over the Christmas break. One of the changes was that Kinect software was updated and now you have to use Cortana ('Hey, Cortana') for voice commands instead of just 'Xbox'.

Trying to pause a video is entertaining. 'Hey Cortana, pause' got the response 'I pulled up some videos of 'bus' for you.' followed by a bunch of videos featuring an Anime bus.

Another time, pause got the response 'Here is the definition of pug'. So I tried to unsnap the pug definition (used 'close' instead of 'unsnap') and Cortana helpfully showed me the definition of 'close'. Then she read the definition to me just to make sure I understood it.

Voice recognition is entertaining, but not in the way it is supposed to be.

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#368181 - 06/01/2017 18:39 Re: What is this shiny device? [Re: tfabris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quote:
Cortana helpfully showed me the definition of 'close'.


Exactly. Even when they get speech recognition perfect in terms of understanding the words you're saying, the systems still won't understand the context.

Interesting how Star Trek was prescient about that particular fact in only one episode:

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Tony Fabris

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