Category Archives: Retrotechtacular

Retrotechtacular: The Nernst Lamp

After dominating the illumination market for more than a century, it’s easy to think of the glowing filament of the standard incandescent lamp as the only way people found to turn electricity into light. But plenty of fertile minds turned out alternative designs, one of which is the fascinating Nernst …read more

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Posted in ballast, ceramic, glower, heater, incandescent, Nernst, relay, Retrotechtacular | Leave a comment

Retrotechtacular: Teasmade

We’re used to our domestic appliances being completely automated in 2020, but not so long ago they were much simpler affairs. Not everything required a human to run it though, an unexpected piece of electromechanical automation could be found in British bedrooms. This is the story of the Goblin Teasmade, …read more

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Posted in appliance, Hackaday Columns, home hacks, Interest, Retrotechtacular, teamaker, teardown, teasmade | Leave a comment

Retrotechtacular: Mechanical Arithmetic For The Masses

Last month we carried a piece looking at the development of the 8-bit home computer market through the lens of the British catalogue retailer Argos and their perennial catalogue of dreams. As an aside, we mentioned that the earliest edition from 1975 contained some of the last mechanical calculators on …read more

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Posted in calculator, Hackaday Columns, mechanical calculator, olivetti, Retrotechtacular, Summa 20 | Leave a comment

Retrotechtacular: The Gyro-X

In the 1950s, American automobiles bloomed into curvaceous gas-guzzlers that congested the roads. The profiles coming out of Detroit began to deflate in the 1960s, but many bloat boats were still sailing the streets. For all their hulking mass, these cars really weren’t all that stable — they still had …read more

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Posted in Alex Tremulis, gyro-x, gyronaut x-1, gyroscopic car, Hackaday Columns, Lane Motor Museum, Retrotechtacular, Thomas Summers | Leave a comment

Retrotechtacular: The Art of the Foundry

Mention the term “heavy industry” and the first thing to come to mind might well be the metal foundry. With immense machines and cauldrons of molten metal being shuttled about by crane and rail, the image of the foundry is like a scene from Dante’s Inferno, with fumes filling …read more

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Posted in Boiler, cast iron, casting, fettling, fitting, foundry, Hackaday Columns, Retrotechtacular, steam, steel | Leave a comment

Retrotechtacular: 934 MHz CB Radio

The radio spectrum is carefully regulated and divided up by Governments worldwide. Some of it is shared across jurisdictions under the terms of international treaties, while other allocations exist only in individual countries. Often these can contain some surprising oddities, and one of these is our subject today. Did you …read more

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Posted in 934 MHz, cb, cb radio, radio hacks, Retrotechtacular, uk | Leave a comment

Retrotechtacular: The Speaking Clock Goes Silent

It used to be that time was a lot more relative than it is today. With smartphones synced to GPS and network providers’ clocks, we all pretty much have access to an authoritative current time, giving few of us today the wiggle room to explain a tardy arrival at work …read more

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Posted in clock, Hackaday Columns, optical, photocell, Retrotechtacular, soundtrack, speaking clock, telco, telephone | Leave a comment

Retrotechtacular: Transputer

Back in 2016, Hackaday published a review of The National Museum of Computing, at Bletchley Park. It mentions among the fascinating array of computer artifacts on display a single box that could be found in the corner of a room alongside their Cray-1 supercomputer. This was a Transputer development system, …read more

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Posted in inmos, multiprocessor, Retrotechtacular, transputer | Leave a comment

Retrotechtacular: Nellie The School Computer

When did computers arrive in schools? That should be an easy question to answer, probably in the years around 1980. Maybe your school had the Commodore Pet, the Apple II, or if you are British, the Acorn BBC Micro in that period, all 8-bit microcomputers running a BASIC interpreter. That’s …read more

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Posted in classic hacks, elliott, elliott 405, mainframe, Retrotechtacular, school computer | Leave a comment

Retrotechtacular: How Not to Design With Transistors

Consider the plight of a mid-career or even freshly minted electrical engineer in 1960. He or she was perched precariously between two worlds – the proven, practical, and well-supported world of vacuum tube electronics, and the exciting, new but as yet unproven world of the transistor. The solid-state devices had …read more

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Posted in comparative, design, electrical engineering, electron tube, Hackaday Columns, Retrotechtacular, transistor, vacuum tube | Leave a comment