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Dead Media List

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Remember the kid in your neighborhood with the weird dad who had a basement full of old TVs, radios and shortwave units, stuff so old that even the parts you recognized looked and felt weird? Well, expand that basement so that it extends back to the earliest forms of communication technology and you have the Dead Media List. Started by science fiction writer and journalist Bruce Sterling in 1995, this is the place where you can confess your secret obsessions with Baird mechanical television systems, telegraphs (both electric and optical), pneumatic tube and rocket mail systems, Magic Lanterns, dioramas, The Optigan, Incan quipu and Edison wax cylinders. List members have also pointed the way to some truly rare pieces of dead media, such as the "Experiential Typewriter" built by Timothy Leary and Ram Dass, and Thadeus Cahill's "Teleharmonium," a 60 ton keyboard instrument that transmitted concerts via phone lines before World War 1. Everyone who posts an entry to the list (and there have been dozens) includes a bibliography, so if some idea or object intrigues you, you can do follow-up research. By joining the list, you have no obligation to post, but when you stumble on that Talking Viewmaster or stereopticon in your parents' basement, you might find yourself looking at it differently, wanting to know more about it and then wanting to tell others. -R.K.

subject matter: technology, media

regional affiliation: global

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language: English

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