back to article Home taping revisited: A mic in each hand, pointing at speakers

I once tried to do it standing on one leg, arms pressed against the wall for stability. On other occasions, I would do the business with arms and legs akimbo. In fact, I have variously tried it huddled in a corner, sitting on a ping-pong table, at both ends of a teak sideboard, straddling the back of a leather sofa and even …

  1. Bob Wheeler

    Bow wow wow ....

  2. Justin Case

    C30 C60 C90 Go!

    They don't write songs like that anymore.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!


      1. AbelSoul
      2. Pedigree-Pete

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

        Nope, they write much worse shit now. PP

    2. Dippywood

      Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

      I have this on at least 2 compilation CD's...

      Go Wild in the Country and I Want Candy too.

      But don't worry, the rest of the compilations contain music

    3. Pedigree-Pete

      Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

      Sounds like they borrowed Adam Ants drummers too.......

      1. EvadS

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

      2. Michael Strorm Silver badge

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

        @ Pedigree-Pete; Funny you should say that.

        Bow Wow Wow *was* essentially the original "Adam and the Ants" line-up with a different singer.

        Apparently the band had sought out Malcolm McLaren for advice/management... only, his advice turned out to be to get the rest of them to abandon Adam, leave the band and form a new group called "Bow Wow Wow", who then acquired a 13-year-old(!) singer. (#)

        (Only a cynic would suggest that this was because Adam might have been quite a strong-willed person with his own ideas that might derail McLaren's attempts to control and mould the band according to his own vision.)

        Meanwhile, Adam was forced to put together a new "And The Ants" and console himself with numerous top 10 singles and albums and much greater chart success than "Bow Wow Wow".

        (#) I don't know how old she was when that video was recorded, but that was apparently one of their early tracks, which would explain why she looks so bloody young.

      3. Teiwaz

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

        Sounds like they borrowed Adam Ants drummers too.......

        But not the drumkits, unfortunately, preferring the cheaper, tacky ones.

      4. jelabarre59

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

        Sounds like they borrowed Adam Ants drummers too.......

        As I remember, BowWowWow was comprised of Adam Ant's *first* backup band. But that was the 80's, my memory isn't so good anymore.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There was a brief spell during my late childhood when it took an hour to download an awful quality MP3 but libraries stocked CD's that you could borrow for a few days (why?). We used to go to the library, take out a CD each, go home and rip it.

    That method of acquiring knock-off music can't have been a thing for more than a handful of years. Did anybody else do that?

    Earlier in my childhood I had a dual tape HIFI in my bedroom, so copying tapes was much easier than the 'balance on a shelf' thing that earlier generations had to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Did anybody else do that?"

      Yeah I did that. At the time I was working in IT at a College gfx / 3d model etc dept who had one of the newfangled Colour Laser printers worth about £50k , So i could print out front and back for 3 cd jewel cases on an A3 sheet.

      So i still have a couple racks of painstakingly recreated , worthless , CDRs staring at me at home. Not been touched for years , taking up space , daring me to throw them away ..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thinking about it a while back, I realised that home-pirating CDs never became a big thing in the way that pirating via cassette was.

        Probably because the point at which blank CDs and burners became affordable for most people (around the tail end of the '90s) was also the same time that MP3 was exploding in popularity.

        I'd already been listening to MP3s for a while when I got a CD burner circa 2002, and while I copied a couple of discs, but never really listened to them. I think it was more the residual appeal of something I'd have lusted after a decade earlier- the ability to copy and make my own CDs- but was already irrelevant.

        Aside from briefly burning to CD-RW for temporary listening (on a portable CD player already obsolescent when I was given it), I never bothered.

        Still listened to- and bought- CDs for some time (#), but never felt the need to pirate them- at some point I realised that I'd rip someone else's CD to MP3 without even giving consideration to making a physical copy.

        (#) Haven't really listened to CDs at all since ripping my collection circa 2004, but still bought them for years after that- typically listening to it once, ripping it, then putting it away...(!!)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          My ripped CD tracks used to get copied to Sony Minidisks, which was more carry-able than a portable CD player, didn't skip and the batteries lasted longer than an album.

          That Sony software though...

          1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

            "That Sony software though"

            Tell me about it. Luckily I was savy enough to avoid NetMD and do everything MD related in real time. I mean I dindt need to sit at the thing while it recorded lol. It takes care of itself (battery permitting).

            Nowadays I keep running into another bit of crap called itunes. Horrible thing cant even understand network proxies! We have have proxies for DECADES and I still need to connect to the guest wifi to let it try and download the restore image for my Directors i-device? Really?

            To be fair that argument applies to a lot of device recovery/update software. I mean, DECADES!!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "home-pirating CDs never became a big thing"

          Unlike tapes, many home-burned CDs were quite short lived. I can still play tapes I made over thirty years ago, but many CDs are unreadable already.

          1. Mage Silver badge

            Re: "home-pirating CDs never became a big thing"

            CDRs and Home burned (not pressed) DVDs are not archival. There were goldish ones used for PhotoCd that keep better.

            I've some 1/4" tapes that are nearly 60 years old. Life depends on thinness (print through on very thin tape wound tight), original composition (there was an era of bad binder. Fortunately unlike film, I think tape was always Mylar = Polyester?). Also humidity and temperature. I watched a 20 year old VHS never played recording from analogue satellite last week. I'd forgotten about that "time shifted" recording of a film on late on TNT. Fine on the 43" 4K TV once all the stupid video enhancement was turned off, though its a late model S-VHS hardly used as we already had a DVD player then.

            Home made CDs and DVDs may erase in days if left upside down on a windowsill. The commercial ones are pressed dots (the groove is pressed even on dye based home burning), so corroded single layer pressed discs can in theory be "re-silvered".

            Backup tapes are a problem as the mechanisms were unreliable and so many formats. Unless you verified, you might have no backup due head clogged or mechanism failure. Good luck finding a drive to restore them on and an interface for the drive (floppy, propriety ISA card, parallel port, IDE, SCSI etc).

            Audio tapes hard to play:

            There are RCA 1/4 cassettes (late 1950s)

            Sony Elcassette (1/4" HiFi)

            Hotel / restaurant Musazk endless loop 1/4". About A4 / letter sized.

            DCC, the digital format on 1/8" tapes. Often the machines could play real analogue compact cassettes. The 8mm video camcorders that can take analogue or digital and transfer via firewire were far more popular, still some on eBay and far better even for external composite PAL to digital (if you can install a Firewire interface) than any of the cheap USB video adaptors, most of which only really manage NTSC resolution (though poorly).

            You can still find 8 track players esp. in USA. The Compact Cassette for cars was already established in UK/Europe, so rare here. The cartridges tend to need repair. Reel to Reel decks still available S/H.

          2. Outcast

            Re: "home-pirating CDs never became a big thing"

            Funny you should say that...


            Strangely the tape deck has stopped playing now. I suspect a belt has perished

            1. Ed_UK

              Re: "home-pirating CDs never became a big thing"

              "Strangely the tape deck has stopped playing now. I suspect a belt has perished"

              In the past, I've bought replacement belts from Maplin or similar. They were really cheap (<£1) but a quick look at Maplin's site now puts them at £6 to £8 a pop, which seems exorbitant for a glorified rubber band. Prolly cheaper elsewhere.

        3. jelabarre59

          I'd already been listening to MP3s for a while when I got a CD burner circa 2002, and while I copied a couple of discs, but never really listened to them. I think it was more the residual appeal of something I'd have lusted after a decade earlier- the ability to copy and make my own CDs- but was already irrelevant.

          My car stereo can play MP3s off of a data CD, but I haven't done that in a while because the player is being picky about them and doesn't play half of them. These days I use a USB stick, holds a lot more than a 700MB CD. Would like it if there were a car stereo that could use DVD data disks (but not a video player, don't want to pay for a function I'll never use); the problem with the USB vs DVD is the optical disks can be bought cheap by the spindle, and you could create music sub-sets (and you can write on them what they are, not so easy with a USB stick).

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Probably because the point at which blank CDs and burners became affordable for most people (around the tail end of the '90s) was also the same time that MP3 was exploding in popularity."

          Likewise, I don't think I ever burned any actual audio CD. I bought a portable CD player that also played MP3 files of discs and a wired cassette adaptor to use it in the car. When that broke, I got one of those cheap "fat" USB stick type MP3 players which used the same cassette adaptor. Next car had a 3.5mm AUX socket so now the adaptor went in the bin. Next car played MP3s off the built-in CD player. Every car since has had a USB port for playing MP3s direct from a pen drive. Evolution in action :-)

          (NB, all company cars, so I didn't get to choose the in car HiFi systems.)

        5. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          I skipped MP3 and went direct to Ogg Vorbis. The MP3 patents had a bad smell about them. I was very sensitive to such smells back then when I was learning about the FSF et al.

          I think I listened to maybe 12 MP3's many of which were horribly encoded 64K samples of the soundtrack of my fave cartoon series. Still have them but got some of them upgraded with the CD that came with the DVD release of that series.

          I did have an MP3 player back in the early 2000's. It was a bit of plastic crap that cost £60 for my birthday, contained 2x 16MB MMC cards and held about all 12 of those songs. Worked fine till some dust killed it a few months later. Went straight back to CD then onto minidisc for convenience in the car (I got over the bad patent smell). Still use minidisc when on holiday. Most portable listening I do today is with a wonderful Sansa Clip I got a few years back. Batery almost never runs down, records from the built in FM radio should I want to record some talk radio and holds all my podcasts I've listened to for the last few years. Its tiby and dust can barely touch the innards!

          As for streaming, thats for the VOD "TV channels" called netflix and iplayer et-al. I do have amazon music on my phone but thats mostly to help blot out the horrible noise of kiss FM playing in my office should I leave my sana in the car. To be honest my smartphone has better things to do than constanly stream expensinve data packets draining its aging battery. I need the power to play ingres and pokemon go or sell a bit of my bitcoins. Also it runs my homegrown location logging app nicely.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not quite the same for me, I was at Uni in 2000 and for a modest fee (think it was £50 a year) you could get a connection to the internet via the Uni's JANET backbone which in those days was about as fast as the internet could get. Napster had also just taken off so I had loads of MP3s which then had to be dumped back to CD either for use in the car or just to save space as at that time I had a 30GB hard drive and the days of dirt cheap large drives were still far away.

        Still have all of those CDs, although all have now been ripped back to MP3 again, and there's enough obscure 80s and 90s rock music to make streaming not an option.

        Anon for obvious reasons.

    2. Just Enough


      "a dual tape HIFI in my bedroom, so copying tapes was much easier"

      A yes. The days you could be enjoy at parties fourth generation copies of tapes that sounded like they were recorded in a tin outhouse during a rainstorm. Also great fun if the tape-to-tape automatically set recording levels, so the quieter the music was, the louder it would turn it up until it was 90% hiss, 10% quiet bit.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We had a record library where I was too. I joined for a year and taped most of the CDs I was interested in (this being 1989, not 1999) along with LPs and other cassettes. Didn't rejoin the next year as I had most of what I wanted...!

      Still bought CDs at the time- doubt I'd have bought more if the library hadn't been around as they were bloody expensive and I couldn't afford more anyway! It's easy to forget how expensive CDs were back then (and remained so until the early 2000s).

      1. Mage Silver badge

        CDs ... bloody expensive

        Still are. €6.99 for DVD and €14.99 for CD, possibly badly remastered from vinyl or earlier release to make it have more bass and "louder". Idiots.

        Record Executives: Killing Music, underpaying Artists.

        I'm only interested in buying music as pressed CDs. I then rip and archive the physical disk. HDDs die. Backups mysteriously get lost or fail. Cloud services fail ("plays for sure" Groove*). Apple iTunes since the start seems determined to destroy the album concept. Also expensive for buying an entire album compared to a physical movie on DVD or BuRay.

        [* Oct 2, 2017 - Microsoft rebranded Xbox Music to Groove Music two years ago, in a bid to make its music streaming service more relevant to consumers. Now being "closed" as MS partners with Spotify. Why can't I remove Groove from Win10?]

        1. gypsythief

          Re: Why can't I remove Groove from Win10?

          Obstinate [cr]apps can be removed with Powershell. Open Powershell with administrator privileges and enter:

          Remove-AppxPackage "Microsoft.ZuneMusic"

          followed by:

          Remove-ProvisionedAppxPackage "Microsoft.ZuneMusic"

          to stop it appearing for new user accounts.


          1. davidp231

            Re: Why can't I remove Groove from Win10?

            "to stop it appearing for new user accounts."

            Until the next major build, where it restores all the crap, and all the settings your disable.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: CDs ... bloody expensive

          "Record Executives: Killing Music, underpaying Artists."

          Except for brief periods with artists like Muse, most "modern" music just plain sucks.

          The music executives MARKET what they WANT you to hear until you tolerate listening to it, then OVERPLAY it until you "like" it. They've been doing this since 70's DISCO. Thankfully the 80's was a time when the 'one hit wonder' bands PROVED that real innovation still existed. Also were one-hit wonders in the 50's and 60's. But that kind of thing is VERY hard for "the suits" to wrap their claws around, as it's unpredictable.

          Instead, they DRIVE "the trend" with their somewhat evil marketing strategy. it deliberately picks the winners and losers, more or less, and finances the losers on the backs of those who are unlucky enough to have a sucky contract. Well known artists and bands who were so exploited: The Beatles, Smashing Pumpkins, and Prince (who had to become 'The artist formerly known as Prince' for a while). There are many others.

          I have no love at all for RIAA or any of the OTHER DMCA-wielding media-fascists. When I hear some of the CRAP that seems to get airplay, I have to wonder "how come you're not playing MY stuff, which I see as being a WHOLE lot better than much of _THAT_". OK I know the reason why these contracts go to others, much of which has more to do with the way Harvey Weinstein used to do business in Hollyweird than it does with REAL talent or good quality stuff: When THEY are "in control", THEY 'make or break you'. It's that simple. And so, to 'make it big', your forced to play THEIR game THEIR way, and it STINKS.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: CDs ... bloody expensive

            most "modern" music just plain sucks

            Fascinating! I have never heard this claim before. Tell me more!

            No, wait - tell me less.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: CDs ... bloody expensive

              The observation that 'most "modern" music just plain sucks' is justifiable in light of Sturgeon's revelation (sometimes called his 'law'), a comment which echos an adage from Rudyard Kipling.

              Their point relevant to the claim above is that a large percentage of everything is rubbish: 'Four-fifths of everybody's work must be bad' or '90% of everything is crud'.

              So yes indeed most 'modern' music sucks - whatever period you're thinking of as 'modern'.

              'But the remnant is worth the trouble for its own sake', added Mr Kipling.

    4. jelabarre59

      Earlier in my childhood I had a dual tape HIFI in my bedroom, so copying tapes was much easier than the 'balance on a shelf' thing that earlier generations had to do.

      And some of those had high-speed duplication too.

    5. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      "Did anybody else do that?"

      No, I just bought the CD lol

      To be honest I had so little interest in music that I really didnt even know that libraries stocked CD's till maybe 10 years ago! I usually just went there to get a book (or pay a fine).

    6. Luiz Abdala

      I had a portable CD player with an option to sync-copy. You would select enough songs on the CD until the added time would be the amount you had of tape eg. 30 minutes. Then, you'd hit the REC+PLAY buttons on the cassette, and it would record those songs on that side.

      Select the remaining to copy on the other side and presto.

  4. TonyJ

    Oh my...

    Showing my age now although by the time I got into music in any small way we had tape recorders as part of a massive hi-fi unit that you could use to record the top 40 off of Radio 1 every Sunday whilst you tried to avoid the gobshite DJ talking over the end of each track.

    And then of course we got dual-tap sytems which meant you could just copy your mates' mix or even their most recently acquired computer game.

    Ahhh happy memories.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh my...

      I never found useful dual tapes systems because music out of tape and recorded on another was too low quality for my taste. "Ripping" an LP on a good tape (using a deck on an hi-fi system, of course), was mostly adequate. I rarely used C90 cassettes, though, but for double albums, or later, to carry around in a walkman - tapes were too much "sequential access" while "random access" was clumsier and stressed the tape more.

      An uncle of mine was the source of many LPs.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Oh my...

        too low quality for my taste

        It was mainly for this reason I only ever bought one album on cassette, and I managed to avoid pre-recorded VHS too (partly because it was nearly the 1990s before I actually had a video recorder - bought just one film), but my stack of self-recorded stuff is enormous. Mainly things from the radio or events at church. Most of them I know I will never listen to again, but can't bring myself throw away partly because they are unique - I've never come across a repeat of "Weekending" for example. Of course the church stuff genuinely is unique and maybe some day I'll see about digitising it. Or maybe not.

        Then one day in the mid 1990s I found a shop selling off Laserdisc players and on an impulse, bought one. This was a time when MVC and Virgin were still selling LDs on the high street, Encore was going strong and DVDs hadn't yet become properly available.

        Glad to say that the LD player, built like a tank, still works. I don't have a vast collection, but many of the films I do have - bought while I was still young, free and single - would be difficult to justify re-purchasing to my other half...


      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Oh my...

        in the 80's I deliberately purchased vinyl, and then [when brand new] went straight to tape with it using high quality C90 cassettes, typically one album per side. Then play 'wherever' like in the car, or with a walkman.

        Records hardly ever got damaged that way. I sometimes wish I still had some of my old vinyl. For various reasons, it went away... [I don't even have a working record player any more]

    2. Zimmer

      Re: Oh my...

      Showing your age ?? Showing your age !?!? Harumph!!

      When I were a lad the first record player had needles you had to sharpen on a stone.... recording ? You listened to it over and over until you memorised* the thing and were able to sing it as you walked down the street (probably a copyright offence today !!)

      It is Friday, isn't it? Nurse, tell me it's Friday ......

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh my...

        "When I were a lad the first record player had needles you had to sharpen on a stone..."

        There were steel needles - but also ones made from thorns.

        The turntable had a lever to get the speed right - possibly the early shellac record producers hadn't agreed on 78rpm as a reliable standard.

        Visiting grandfather we used to lug out the large thick "binder" that contained the many records required for a complete Handel's "Messiah". We only ever played the Hallelujah Chorus - and had fun moving the speed control between Marvin slow - and Chipmunk fast. It used to infuriate our grandfather.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: steel needles - but also ones made from thorns

          Steel needles are single play. You can still buy packs of 100. I have a 1935 radiogram with "magnetic" pickup that uses steel needles. USA autochangers in 1930s used sapphire (50 to 200 hrs) or even diamond (500 to 1000 hrs). Some UK models in early 1950s still used steel needles.

          The moving iron in my 1934 pickup isn't the needle. A bamboo cocktail stick works well.

          Early "78s" may have been deliberately recorded at 82rpm (more quality) or as slow as 65 rpm (longer play). Cinema used 33 1/3rd rpm and up to 16" disks playing from the centre.

          From the 1930s the 78s did come in 7" (kids) and 12" (classical) sizes. The modern microgroove 45rpm and 33 1/3 rpm came out in 1948/1949 approximately. Vinyl did exist before WWII.


          The modern "retro" players in the high street today do have a 78 setting, but it's useless as the stylus is unsuited, it's for microgroove only. Real multi-type players either had a flip over stylus or dual flip over cartridge. The non-microgroove (all 78s) needs a longer fatter different shape of stylus. The 16rpm was microgroove 12" for language learning or recorded lectures as the frequency response is much poorer.

          CD is superior to LP. More dynamic range, more frequency response after 1st playing, less distortion, no surface / needle noise, no rumble. DAB & DTT & sat audio are inferior to CD, Vinyl or FM with a good signal due to compression artefacts (distortion), which is ironically worse for people with impaired hearing, maybe because they don't match the acoustic lossy model. MP3 at 256K isn't bad and at 320K good enough for most material. Sadly most digital gadgets only support MP3, not Flac. With 256G SD cards and USB sticks the storage isn't an issue.

          Low audio bitrates on Digital Radio & TV is simple greed to reduce costs.

      2. Pedigree-Pete

        Re: Oh my...


        I think that's the origin of the phrase "The Old Grey Whistle Test". Ah Whispering Bob Harris...mumbles off humming the theme. PP

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Oh my...

          Ah, the OGWT theme.

          Wonderful piece of music in its own right. Not sure if that's just because of what it's associated with in my tired old mind

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Oh my...

        You listened to it over and over until you memorised* the thing and were able to sing it as you walked down the street (probably a copyright offence today !!)

        Actually, some artists did lobby for applying stricter copyright regulation to amateur "performance". Lessig has a lengthy anecdote about Sousa's complaints regarding people on the street making free with his tunes in Remix. I'm no great fan of Lessig or the book, but it's an interesting story.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Oh my...

      Dad bought one of those Amstrad "HiFi" things in the 80s. It was about 1.2m tall and came in a glass case, with space to shelve your records at the bottom. It also had a radio and twin casette decks. So my music copying and mix-tape making tasks were pretty easy.

      Although you couldn't turn the sound off while you copied, so trying to pirate computer games was incredibly unpleasant - you had to leave the room, and it upset the dog.

      I remember trying to tape Radio 4's Lord of the Rings adaptation on Sunday afternoons, but this plan needed 13 weeks uninterupted access - which was foiled by family visits.

      I still remember one mixtape with The Reflex (Duran Duran), 19 (Paul Hardcastle), Cricketers 19 (parody by Rory Bremner), I Like Driving in My Car (Madness) - though heaven knows why I made it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Although you couldn't turn the sound off while you copied,"

        Have you ever tried to set the volume to 0?

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: "Although you couldn't turn the sound off while you copied,"

          Or plugging in a pair of headphones?


        2. Alister

          Re: "Although you couldn't turn the sound off while you copied,"

          Have you ever tried to set the volume to 0?

          My recollection, of using a Sharp twin-deck Cassette machine to copy computer programs, was that if you set the output volume to 0 it also set the tape-to-tape volume to 0, so you ended up with a tape of silence.

          I don't know how common that was, but it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case here.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "if you set the output volume to 0 it also set the tape-to-tape volume to 0"

            Ugh, very ill designed - did the volume also controlled the gain? Probably cheap model used simple circuitry with such limitations.

            Anyway, I never dared to put a data tape into my hi-fi for fear of damaging it - it was my fifteen birthday present (Technics turntable, Yamaha amplifier and cassette deck, Epicure speakers), it was expensive, I wasn't going to risk it in any stupid way - I couldn't ask for another.

            Especially since my father still believes I deliberately killed his older (end of '60s) turntable/amplifier system to obtain the new one. I was just happy when it died because of its age.

  5. asphytxtc

    Luckily for me, both of my parents were in the film business, my mother a sound recordist and my father a lighting cameraman. This gave me unfettered access to a whole editing suite at home of professional quality, stacks of C90's lying around and most importantly of all - a decent two deck cassette recorder!

    I think I made a pretty penny (spent on actual penny sweets) dubbing off copies of albums for friends, as well as spectrum and c64 games too! Pirate at the age of 8 years old I was.. Miss those days with a passion!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I'd forgotten that. As a teenager I did sound for my church - and we had a proper tape copying machine - as sermons were recorded, copied and sent out to people who couldn't make it to church to share the boredom in person. This was dead useful for making good copies of tapes. It had proper inch square coloured buttons that lit up when you pressed them - and stayed lit until the process was finished. Did a C90 in just a few minutes.

      The world needs more light-up buttons and glowing dials. Controls on computer screens just don't cut it. Give me a big old panel full of chunky glowing buttons and toggle switches any day.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " Give me a big old panel full of chunky glowing buttons and toggle switches any day."

        The second generation EELM KDF8 (RCA 501) was something that the general public thought really looked like a computer should. It had a large operator's panel which was a matrix of large, rectangular, coloured light buttons.

        When the room lights were out on the night shifts it positively glowed. The operators developed callouses on their thumbs from doing a sliding set/reset along a line of buttons.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          There is a video of the RCA 501 showing the operator in virtuoso console action***. The colours are rather muted possibly due to the age of the film. The KDF 8 had glorious red, blue, yellow, and green - which lit up when selected.

          ***on KDF8 there was a console teletype device - but which was output only.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: my parents were in the film business

      The insulting anti-piracy messages on bought video disks. Most Video Piracy is done in cinemas or at the studios or of pre-release distribution. Not by home users.

      Piracy of live Pay TV is mostly industrial pirates. They used to use special adapted cards and send the keys over the internet. Now an HD camera, decent 4K TV and streaming. YET we are all paying extra for HDCP in every player, setbox and TV set that uses HDMI. DRM is pointless stupidity that only hurts the home consumer and in the long term contravenes copyright law.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: my parents were in the film business

        "The insulting anti-piracy messages on bought video disks"

        The U.S. release of 'Excel Saga' had some fun with this. They integrated the anti-piracy warning with the evil organization 'Across' and its dictatorial leader, 'Ilpalazzo' with punishment involving being tarred and feathered, and something to do with a depraved walrus. Or something like that.

        There's a reference to it here:

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Not by home users"

        Just as long as it is difficult enough for the average home user. Of course if you can make enough money you will also attract more capable people who aren't easy to stop.

        But when copying LPs and audio/video/software tapes was easy enough, a lot of people do it to earn money, not just to give a copy to the girlfriend. While when I was a teenager I could exchange LPs with a couple of friends because nobody of us had the money to buy all of them - but each of us bought some - I never bought nor sold pirated stuff, but there was some who attempted that to make money that way, it was far to easy to make many tapes, although of course to make hundreds you needed a professional copying machine.

        1. jelabarre59

          Re: "Not by home users"

          But when copying LPs and audio/video/software tapes was easy enough, a lot of people do it to earn money, not just to give a copy to the girlfriend.

          I remember the general stores and gas stations used to have racks of bootlegged 8-Track tapes. Never understood back then how they could get away with it, but then again it was the remote regions of New England.

  6. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Ahhh, dual tape recorder decks made copying protected Speccy (and others) games a snap :)

    I can recall my nephew trying to record some speccy game, using two portable tape recorders and only air in between... didn't work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have heard that did work if the speakers and mic quality was good enough. May have been C64 or Atari or something though.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Why bother recording over the air? If you had 2 cassette player/recorders, you could connect them using a line-in to line-out setup and record just like if you had a twin deck. That's the way my friends and I used to do it, anyway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Why bother recording over the air?"

          You needed:

          1) Something with the line-out connectors

          2) The needed cable(s)

          3) Something with the line-in connectors

          4) The knowledge about how to do it - which is very simple, once you know it.

          1) and 2) may not have been both available in the devices you owned. 3) could have been also an issue when there were far less electronics stores - no onlinge catlog - and hi-fi were sold in specialized ones. 4) was also an issue when you were a young teenager and there was no Internet and Google to answer to all your questions.

          My first non-fully-toy deck came with a complex DIN plug - the manual had a full wiring diagram and explanation of what every pin did, but I wasn't able to understand it... nor I knew where to get one of those plugs - I was eleven, living in a small town.

          But it was funny when some years later I gave a schoolmate a tape recorded directly from a turntable to cassette on an hi-fi system - he said the recording was not good as his ones - I made a big laugh when I saw later he recorded putting a single, mono mic in front of a single speaker.... exactly because he didn't know how to connect the devices in any other way.

  7. Mike Street

    It's on Tidal

    I am not sure why I would want access to that track, but it is available for streaming on Tidal.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: It's on Tidal

      One thing I like about Tidal: the audio quality is far superior to that of the others.

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    clock hacker!

    I once managed to obtain the time from the speaking clock using a payphone and no money.*

    After several rings and listening to the 0.5 seconds of connection before the "put money in system" kicked in , I managed to piece together the time.

    *I dont know why this was necessary, and at roughly age 12 it probly wasnt

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: clock hacker!

      The technical term is "recovering clock".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: clock hacker!

        In the 1960s our company introduced a "9" prefix for local calls from our desk phones. They quickly added a bar on TIM the speaking clock.

  9. peterm3

    the good old days

    I have now got nostalgia for the Argos catalogue and looking at new models of consumer electronics.

    My first television, a Sony KV-M1400D which I bought with my paper round money. Costs £200 as I recall. It was a real quality thing. My parents bought a VHS player very late, in 1994. The remote control had a clip up cover with buttons for start time and end time. Those were the days! Sadly both were stolen in a burglary.

    I don't think charity shops accept VHS these days. No one would know what to do with it!

    1. Fading

      Re: the good old days

      No need to thank me.....

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: the good old days

      Mum got one of those videos that you could program with a barcode scanner. But I don't think they ever caught on, so the papers didn't print the barcodes with their listings.

      So you had this plastic card that you could scan to set up your recordings that was even more user-unfriendly and hard-to-use than just programming the thing by kneeling in front of it and pressing buttons.

      I've used some shockingly bad technology over the years!

      My CD Walkman was pretty good though. It had enough memory that it neve skipped, but conversely you could skip tracks in a way that made your tape walkman look positively archaic. Came with rechargeable batteries, which was just as it was hungry for power. And came with a case that held 10 CDs. It was far less of a problem than my various knock-off tape walkmen - and didn't destroy any of my CDs in the way that ate tapes.

      1. Philip Storry

        Re: the good old days

        Ah, VideoPlus+ codes!

        I do remember them in newspapers. But only for a short while in the 80's.

        I always suspected that what really killed them was that TV is, in no way, dependable. At the time that they were published in the UK we only had four channels. Any major event would require a news bulletin, ruining the schedule. Any overrunning sports event would ruin the schedule. A squirrel farting would ruin the damned schedule.

        It may have been easy to program the video via VideoPlus+ codes, but that didn't mean you were going to get your programme. IIRC I think they allowed a few minutes each way, but that's all. Smart people usually allowed 5-10 minutes at least both before and after the program.

        So it may have been more convenient, but it was no more likely to succeed than manual programming. And therefore not quite worth the money.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: the good old days

          My recollection was that it started the recording on the dot of the listing, without allowing for a few minutes beforehand - as you'd do when programming manually. But that might be because there was a setting you could change, buried deep in the manual.

          I'd completely forgotten it was called Video+. And that the things had been printed for a brief time - sadly I think they were still selling them after the papers had dumped it for lack of users. I don't recall ever seeing another one.

        2. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: the good old days

          It may have been easy to program the video via VideoPlus+ codes, but that didn't mean you were going to get your programme

          No, for that you needed VideoPlus with Programme Delivery Control (PDC), where the broadcasters actually put a flag up at the start and pulled it down at the end of every programme.


      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: the good old days

        Mum got one of those videos that you could program with a barcode scanner

        You think that was pointless? My Laserdisc player has two remote controls, one is sized and shaped like a facing brick and uses infra red or can be connected to the player with a 3.5mm lead. The other, sleeker, one has an IR transmitter at one end and a barcode scanner at the other. A sheet of barcodes, totally pointlessly, allowed you to scan the code for "play" or "stop" or "next track" and then transmit it to the player.


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the good old days

      @peterm3; "I don't think charity shops accept VHS these days."

      Some of them had *already* stopped accepting them the better part of a decade back. Presumably there was such a glut of unwanted tapes and their value was so low it was barely worth charities time to deal with them.

      (Figure the cost of getting, sorting and taking up shelf space for bulky cassettes that had low resale value- and then the cost of getting rid of bulky masses of unsold tapes. You can see their reasoning.)

      I remember passing a disused shop- which was probably being used for storage- and it was full of old video cassettes.

      Most people would have been getting *rid* of unwanted tapes they'd replaced with cheap back catalogue DVDs, so those who *did* want them had their pick. In response to this, one guy complained that it was unfair on people like him who enjoyed picking up five tapes for a quid from charity shops... I pointed out that was exactly *why* it was barely worth their time!

  10. Dr_N

    Home Taping

    Was good for "swapping" computer games too. Apparently.

  11. HmmmYes

    Hmm, cheakskate Indy kids.

    Title such as 'Press eject and give the tape' and 'Got it on tape'

  12. Dr_N

    Gapless Playback

    Was IS this so difficult for music providers to build this into their bloody platforms?

    1. Whitter

      Re: Gapless Playback

      According to pub chat, that the tracks are encoded in 2 second blocks or so, and the replay software just decompresses all the blocks, which likely includes empty space at the end of the last block, rather than stopping the track when the total track time (as stored in the header) has elapsed.

  13. jake Silver badge

    I've got a box with ...

    ... about 250 C90 cassette recordings of John Peel from the mid '70s. The few I've listened to recently sound like hell, but I keep them in the hopes that someday I'll be able to recover some of the rare shit he played. For example, the complete pre-release of Siouxsie_and_the_Banshees "The Scream", which was remastered by the studio a couple days later for the official release ... The two recordings are quite different, and my younger self quite preferred the original. (No, not the Peel Sessions, this was the actual album.)

    Yes, I know, there is too much noise & not enough signal on that old rust ... and I did digitize them all almost two decades ago. Logic says I should probably just junk 'em. And yet I won't. Memories :-)

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: I've got a box with ...

      There's a fairly good chance you have the only copies in existence of some of that stuff! No idea if the BBC are still set up to deal with it, but they did something about it a few years back. (More).

  14. Tim 11

    LR14 !?!?

    I presume you mean HP2s or HP11s - nobody in the 80's had heard of things like D size or LR14

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LR14 !?!?

      I think it was probably early 80's when the old fashioned "Ever Ready" british "HP2" (high power) or "SP2" (standard power) style designations were slowly being replaced by trendy USA designations like "C" and "D".

      Lets not forget "9 volt transistor radio" battery as detailed in the Tandy catalogues, known to everyone else as a PP3.

      I still have no idea what a LR14 is.....

      My first cassette recorder was a Christmas present when I was 11. Within about 2 months I had l mastered my first interface protocol - how to connect the "tape out" socket on the existing hand-me-down portable radio to the "aux in" on the recroder with a 3.5mm jack cable. Much better sound quality.

      Many memories......

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: LR14 !?!?

        I still have no idea what a LR14 is.....

        The Unreliable Source says it's an HP11, aka "C".

      2. William Towle

        Re: LR14 !?!?

        > My first cassette recorder was a Christmas present when I was 11. Within about 2 months I had l mastered my first interface protocol - how to connect the "tape out" socket on the existing hand-me-down portable radio to the "aux in" on the recroder with a 3.5mm jack cable. Much better sound quality.

        I have a vague recollection of taping records with a din-din lead between a dansette style record player and a portable cassette player/recorder, which I subsequently discovered didn't turn its microphone off when the cable was connected ... which was a bit annoying to discover later.

        Fortunately due to having a computer we had a "spare" unit that behaved.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: LR14 !?!?

          "My first cassette recorder was a Christmas present when I was 11. "

          In the 1960s my school pal had a proper large reel-to-reel tape recorder with three speeds. We used it to do Goon Show imitations.

          My parents bought me a "portable" Grundig tape recorder - valve technology. You had to plug it into the mains - but it was relatively lightweight. Reel to reel but only 1-7/8 speed mono - with small diameter reels.

          Recovered it from my sibling's loft storage a few years ago - and surprisingly it still worked. Was disappointed that the tape with it was one of my recordings of music from the radio - rather than my teenage voice.

          When cheap transistor tape recorders came on the market they were similar - small reels and only the slowest speed. To cut the cost the erasing head was just a lump of permanent magnet rather than an oscillating signal.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: LR14 !?!?

          "a din-din lead"

          Ah yes, the horrors of DIN leads. The spec only seems to have ever defined the physical shaped of the plug and pins. The pin layout appeared to be entirely down to the designer of the kit and what he felt like that day. Getting a lead to connect two devices was a black art, especially if the devices were two different manufacturers, but just as likely to fail with different models from the same manufacturer.

          Much time was spent with Maplin catalogues and buying plugs/sockets/cables with enough wires to custom make "standard" DIN - DIN leads.

  15. Simon Harris


    My dad picked up one of my TKD AD90s once and asked in all seriousness...

    "AD90 - is that another band like UB40?"

    The beer I'll be buying my dad for that recollection --------->

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: C90

      Ah, the AD90. I got through dozens of the things. Much higher quality than the D90s, and better than the Maxel equivalents (IMHO), but much cheaper than the Psudo-Chrome SA90s. The equalization bias was such that they tended to produce a slightly bright sound on most Hi-Fi, so it was best to use a record deck that did not produce too much surface noise.

      I remember splicing an extra 5 minutes on some tapes to record the two sides of some LPs onto the single side of an AD90 (although the TDKs had about 46 minutes of tape as measured on my JVC KD720 HiFi deck). I think one of them was Genesis Wind and Wuthering, and I had Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell on the other side (if any record company is reading, I have since bought both on CD, so you still made a sale!)

      In general, most LPs were under 20 minutes a side, so would fit on one side of an unadulterated AD90.

      I remember there being a country-wide shortage of AD90s sometime around 1980 because it was the tape of choice for most home-tapers.

      I avoided Scotch/3M or BASF tapes, because they shed oxide even when new! And I would not touch unbranded tapes at all, and even good C120 tapes suffered from print-through, and tended to jam even on good tape decks.

    2. HmmmYes

      Re: C90

      Err dont do your old Dad down.

      A shoddy means of copying, given a sound much cheaper than the original - tick for both.

      A crappy product, prone to tangling and splitting - tick for both.

  16. Andy Taylor

    Dial a Disc

    I'm surprised there's no mention of Dial a Disc - the speaking clock but for music with that oh so high-fidelity medium of an analogue phone line.

    The speaking clock is quite useful for testing emergency number dialling without actually calling 999.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dial a Disc

      I've used it to test a phone system has the outside line configured correctly within the last decade.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dial a Disc

      "I'm surprised there's no mention of Dial a Disc"

      IIRC the early phone system in 19C London was primarily intended as a subscription service to distribute live performances. You could even get two sets of ear phones so two people could listen.

    3. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Dial a Disc

      I'm surprised there's no mention of Dial a Disc

      Or dail-the cricket-score? Or dial-a-story?

      Discovered a few years ago that the Johnny Morris dial-a-stories about zoo animals (where he does the voices like he used to do on Animal Magic) were available on CD. The (then) young children loved them.


      1. Simon Harris

        Re: Dial a Disc

        I didn't have the animal stories, but I did have a set of Johnny Morris reading Thomas the Tank Engine on vinyl in the early 70s.

        I just checked - Amazon has them as MP3s now.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Dial a Disc

          I did have a set of Johnny Morris reading Thomas the Tank Engine on vinyl in the early 70s.

          The best versions ever. I had a set of four LPs, four stories per side therefore two books per LP. My mother left three of them at the nursery school she used to run - probably thought I wouldn't want them now that I was all growed up.

          Turns out my firstborn was also a huge Thomas fan, so eBay to the rescue.

          I was tempted - though never got around - to edit the first few animated TV stories to replace Ringo Starr with the Johnny Morris narration...

          There's an Awdry "museum" at the Talyllyn Railway - claimed to be the first preserved railway in the world, where Awdry himself volunteered for many years and which was the inspiration for the stories involving Skarloey and Rheneas and their friends.

          I mention this because among the artefacts on display are some LPs and some singles, which I didn't know existed, some of them read by Willie Rushton I think (it's been a while).

          Well worth a visit, though I recognise it's a very long way from pretty much any major population centre!


  17. Andrew Commons

    Vinyl to Digital

    Getting old vinyl records into digital format is still a thing and it is very time consuming. Record the album, break it up into tracks, clean the tracks taking care not to edit out drum hits that look like scratches in the audio wave form, burn to a CD and also convert to MP3.

    Takes quite a while to do each album.

    1. Dabooka

      Re: Vinyl to Digital

      Why on earth do you clean the tracks?

      Clicks and pops find their way onto my FLACs, that's the bloody charm of the things!

      1. Andrew Commons

        Re: Why on earth do you clean the tracks?

        It depends on the age of the vinyl. I do it selectively mainly on the quiet sections. If its a loud section it just stays there unless it is really bad.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Vinyl to Digital

        Indeed, my vinyl to MP3 rips are just one mp3 file per side of the album.

        .. Gives you that same vinyl experience when playing them back, listening to a side at a time.

    2. Peter Galbavy

      Re: Vinyl to Digital

      I bought Vinyl Studio and have recorded exactly two records so far, mostly through a lack of time. The first was really fiddly and I was very careful with the bit depth, sampling rate etc. The second (Monyaka, who remembers them?) was much quicker and spent most of the time setting the track start and end points carefully - I let the automation do the rest. Sound absolutely fine in the car and over headphones.

    3. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: Vinyl to Digital

      I'd assume that one way to differentiate pops and clicks from legitimate content would be to find two different vinyl sources.

      You'd then have a piece of software that matched up the corresponding waveforms recorded from each source. This should be doable almost automatically, though it might have to ask you to make decisions or confirm its assumptions occasionally.

      The software then determines whether a noise appears in one or both sources- since it's very unlikely that major pops or clicks would appear in *exactly* the same point in both cases- and uses the "clean" one as the basis of a repair (even if that's not necessarily the "master" copy you want to use as the basis for your remaster).

  18. frank ly

    Pics, or it didn't happen!

    "... while I was a mullet-coiffed, pixie-boot attired student in the early 1980s."

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Pics, or it didn't happen!

      Let's hope it didn't happen.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Pics, or it didn't happen!

        It was the 80s. Of course it did.

        I had light grey leather shiny slip-on loafers, with tassles. Because, erm, I... erm, had no taste? Oh, and wore them with white socks, naturally. At various times I had white jeans, yellow jeans, and wore purple and orange shirts.

        Although I refuse to apologise for wearing flourescent yellow socks.

        [note to self: Must remember to hit anonymous button]

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pics, or it didn't happen!

          1970s - green velour flared loons (trousers) with a bright orange shirt and tie in same material - and light brown suede Desert boots. I suspect there were fluorescent green socks too.

          Finished off with Fabergé Brut*** shower gel, deodorant, and aftershave. On a Saturday night my pals made me stand outside the car for a few minutes to let the wind disperse some of the miasma.

          ***The real Brut - not the down-market "Brut 33" advertised on TV by boxer Henry Cooper.

          1. Kubla Cant

            Re: Pics, or it didn't happen!

            Student me in the late 1960s:

            • black crushed velvet flares
            • flowered shirt
            • bright-coloured nylon scarf worn as a neckerchief
            • black hat with a wide brim
            • short green military-style coat that I was told originated with the Women's Fire Brigade*
            • best of all, a pair of zip-up chukka boots that I had personally re-coloured purple
            *I now doubt that there ever was such an organisation, but the surplus store had dozens of these coats.

            1. BongoJoe

              Re: Pics, or it didn't happen!

              I tried the black velvet jacket, denim shirt and neckerchief approach but couldn't manage the mustache.

              I thought that I looked like Jon Lord. Jon Lord perhaps would have thought that I looked like a knob.

          2. Pedigree-Pete

            Re: 1970s - green velour flared loons (trousers)

            @AC. Ah! A dedicated follower of fashion. PP

            >>No "whistles tunelessly" icon and...well Friday. Cheers.

          3. davidp231

            Re: Pics, or it didn't happen!

            Brut... you didn't have High Karate?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pics, or it didn't happen!

      He's still waiting for the pics being returned from the shop...

      (no, you didn't leave them in the coat pocket)

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Pics, or it didn't happen!

      @frank ly

      "... while I was a mullet-coiffed, pixie-boot attired student in the early 1980s."

      Will this do? Post-student Dabbsy on The Computer Channel in 1997

  19. kryptonaut


    What about the home-made compilations when the tape ran out part-way through the last track, and 35 years later whenever you hear that song you *still* expect it to finish there?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "trying on shoes in a shoe shop"

    If all your shoes are the same type of sneakers you buy over and over probably you don't need to. Or if you buy only hand-made shoes from shops where the shoemakers have a 3D-printed model of your feet from a high-res laser scan.

    Don't know onepoll which kind of shoe-buyers interviewed - if they were software developers or their Sillycon Valley CEOs.

    Otherwise it's a basic safety precaution to avoid to curse the day you bought them every time you have to wear them and suffer the pain of hell.

    1. Dr Scrum Master

      Re: "trying on shoes in a shoe shop"

      I'd only ever buy DMs without trying them on. Anything else, fitting is a must.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "trying on shoes in a shoe shop"

      "[...] If you buy only hand-made shoes [...]"

      Once had a pair of shoes custom made in an Italian shop in Luton. The idea was to get a good fit. They were the most uncomfortable ones I ever wore. Never did manage to soften them to less than toe pinching "style".

      1. Kubla Cant

        Re: "trying on shoes in a shoe shop"

        I had no idea that might be old-school. What do modern people do instead? Guess?

        1. Anonymous Coward

          "What do modern people do instead?"

          Order twenty-four pair on Amazon and then send back the whole lot because they couldn't find the right one.

          Still better than those who try them in a shop, don't buy them and then order them on Amazon or Yoox.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "trying on shoes in a shoe shop"

        Well, my grandfather never tried a suit in a shop. The tailor had his various sizes. He would come home with some cloths to choose from, my grandfather chose which one(s) he liked, than the tailor came back with an unfinished, custom-made suit to try and then made any required changes for the finished one. They fit perfectly, of course.

        So, really, nothing new. You just need to be able to afford it. It means you are rich enough, or workers are poor and cheap enough they have to accept this to make a living.

        It's just like Uber, Deliveroo, and the like - one century ago and until about the 1960s you had the same services - grandmother too didn't need to shop for food, she ordered it from the various shops and had it delivered home - as long as delivery boys where cheap it worked.

        I'm not sure if getting back to those low-paid jobs is "disruptive" and "innovative". You can make a lot of money when you're at the top of the pyramid, though.

    3. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: "trying on shoes in a shoe shop"

      This became an issue for me after losing weight. I had fat feet, it seems. Even now, I'm not sure what size shoes to buy. My boots are size 8. My gym shoes are size 11. It makes no sense at all.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "trying on shoes in a shoe shop"

        Different manufacturers use different sized lasts. And plants on different continents belonging to the same manufacturer use different sized lasts. The only the only good way to purchase shoes is to physically try them on.

        Last time I bought "walking the dawgs" shoes, I tried on four identically labeled pairs. One pair was too small, one too big, and two fit. I bought the two. They were made in Mexico, the large pair was made in Malaysia, and the small pair was made in Taiwan. Caveat emptor.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "trying on shoes in a shoe shop"

          "[...] and the small pair was made in Taiwan."

          Reminds me of the Temple Street night market in Hong Kong on a trip in 1993. My UK size in shirts was "small" - possibly "medium". The market stall suitable offerings turned out to be marked as "XL".

          My host had to import a bed long enough to accommodate his 6' (1.8m) length. In England his HK born wife had to go on a fattening diet if she wanted to wear the smallest size UK adult clothes. Her husband complained about being seen with an apparent 12 year old - but at least the children's sizes were vat free.

          My holiday partner was delighted that for the first time in her life she could see over people's heads in crowds.

          However - at dinner in the Imperial Hotel all the serving staff of both sexes were in the order of 6' (1.8m). Apparently always recruited from northern China.

  21. Fihart

    Cassettes -- sheer modern luxury !!

    When The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" came out in 1964 I had just received a miniature Japanese reel to reel tape recorder. Naturally I took it with me to the nearest record shop.

    Results weren't bad but the machine had a fatal flaw -- instead of the tape being driven directly by a pinch-wheel (as per every serious tape deck including cassette) it relied on friction drive to the tape reel carrier. That meant that the speed of the recording would vary according to the ratio of tape on the take-up spool. Not crucial so long as the tape was played back on the recorder but potentially ghastly if transferred to another machine.

    But for me it was the beginning of a lifelong involvement in recording -- with a Grundig dictaphone and then cassettes -- and graduating to a Ferrograph, Revox and Studer machines when making radio ads professionally.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cassettes -- sheer modern luxury !!

      "Grundig dictaphone"

      The valve one in a beige plastic box - with a glowing blue light for the record level?

      1. Fihart

        Re: Cassettes -- sheer modern luxury !!

        "Grundig dictaphone"

        The valve one in a beige plastic box - with a glowing blue light for the record level?

        The very same.

    2. Daedalus

      Re: Cassettes -- sheer modern luxury !!

      Yeah, I fell victim to the variable speed reel-to-reel recorder. Back when I lived on the opposite side of the pond from my Kentucky cousins, we would get nice taped greetings from them which we attempted to play back on the borrowed Grundig portable. And yes, they recorded with a nice constant speed recorder, and so the voices were unusually looowwww to start with and got hiiiigherrr and faaaster as the tape wound on the reel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cassettes -- sheer modern luxury !!

        "I fell victim to the variable speed reel-to-reel recorder."

        Working abroad in the 1970s I borrowed a cine camera from a colleague to make a travelogue film to send home to friends. After editing the film - a cassette tape commentary was recorded to accompany it in real time.

        The colleague's cine camera was Standard 8 - and my friends had a combination Super 8/Standard 8 projector. It transpired that their projector gate used the Super 8 frame speed of 18fps for both types of film. My carefully crafted commentary was therefore soon out of sync with my film which would have been shot at 16fps.

        I still have the film - transcribed to VHS and then DVD. Unfortunately the original commentary tape had been lost - so I had to record a new one for the DVD version.

  22. Dabooka

    So CDs...

    Couple of months ago I re-ripped all of my discs from cruddy MP3 to FLAC and have them all storted nce on safe on my NAS.

    So what do I do with the CDs? They aren't going anywhere but I do want to chuck out the cases due to the dpace they take up. I'm after an archive file that can accommodate both the discs and the insert and rear cover, preferably with the disc touching the printed material.

    Any ideas? Found loads of 'DJ' files and wallets but no space for the inserts etc.

    1. Peter Galbavy

      Re: So CDs...

      Been down the same route. Went with - but they are mostly out of stock now. Still only about 1/3rd through moving the CDs (and DVDs and BluRays) over to slightly more compact storage - only 1/2rd to 2/3rd volume saving at most - but I'll get there.

    2. TheProf

      Re: So CDs...

      I bought a CD wallet from The Works in the late nineties. It holds 32 removable sleeves and can hold 32 discs and the CD cover or 64 discs and no insert. Of course being sold by The Works means it was a remaindered product then so it's probably only available to archaeologists these days.

      It has one major flaw. The sleeve pockets are square in shape and so won't accommodate the rear CD case insert. You know, the one with all the useful stuff like track listings and err, the bar code.

      1. Dabooka

        Re: So CDs...

        Thanks for the replies chaps.

        The SLAPPA link is better than anything else I've seen, but looks similar to the same problem TheProf references regarding holding the rear case insert?

        It really shouldn't be this difficult...

    3. David Nash

      Re: So CDs...

      Mine are all stacked up in boxes in the loft.

      One day I will re-rip them to higher quality/flac but the size of the job is putting me off.

  23. hammarbtyp

    It's a mystery (Toyah Wilcox 1993)

    I thought home taping killed music...where are all these streaming services getting it from.

  24. PaulyV

    Home Taping is Skill in Music

    Oddly enough only yesterday did I get sent WAV's taken from a cassette of our 1980's Lincolnshire band. My Dad recorded us in the living room using a decent Technics deck (Dolby C no less!) and a crossed pair of AKG D90 mics. Despite being carted around the country in the bottom of various boxes for the past 30 years the quality of the audio held up well enough to rekindle many memories. The quality of the music itself however...not so much. Thank god dance music came along.

  25. WaveyDavey

    Pixie Boots

    I still rather miss them!. Was very embarassig the time I dropped a lit fag-end in the top of them in a crowded pub though.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: Pixie Boots

      If that made you dance around on one leg then you're Ian Anderson and I claim my five pounds!

  26. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Speccy owners will also fondly remember the days of fidding with the VOL button to get "just the right volume" for loading games.

    R Tape loading error was the result if the volume was too high or too low. Fun, especially if you're playing around with a lot of BASIC code you've just typed in from a magazine, and wanted to save it...

    1. hammarbtyp

      I used to have a weird problem loading gunship on Spectrum. If I tried to load it all the way it would fail, but I found if I played the tape until there was a pause. Loaded that bit. rewound to start and load the rest it would work.

      Also The more expensive the tape deck the less chance of loading. Speccies loved cheap mono tape decks.

      1. David Nash

        spectrum games tapes

        Also on most tape players the read head was mounted on two screws, one of which was spring-mounted, providing some adjustment of the angle of the head through a hole that you could poke a small screwdriver into.

        Adjusting this was often necessary to get it to load, in my experience.

        1. DropBear

          Re: spectrum games tapes

          Vertical tape deck. Front window glass slid off its mounting rails. Tiny screwdriver wedged precariously under the transport roller's carrier bridge, resting on the lip of the window opening, lifting the bridge ever-so-slightly by its sheer counterbalanced weight alone. I swear it was the only way to get that particular tape to load...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Also The more expensive the tape deck the less chance of loading. Speccies loved cheap mono tape decks."

        Yeah, Automatic Level Control on most players above the bargain basement price was the bane of 8-bit tape loading until you reach the even more expensive ones which had the option to turn it off or multiple settings.

  27. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Myself and my mates were all keen bedroom DJs back in the 90s and the only way of recording our mixes was on cassette tapes. I also use to tape a lot of DJ mixes from the likes of Pete Tong, Stu Allan and Andy Roberts from the radio which I still have on cassette and I doubt these recording exist anywhere else these days. I dug all my tapes out a few months ago to digitise them and they are still waiting for me to hook up my Technics tape deck to record them onto my computer.

    1. jelabarre59

      Just get one of these and plug right into USB.

  28. agurney

    A mic in each hand, pointing at speakers

    The biggest problem with doing it that way was that many portable cassette recorders had Auto Gain, resulting in horribly loud hissing for quiet bits such as the lead-in lead-out and gaps between tracks, never mind the enhanced rumble, rumble, clunk from the turntable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A mic in each hand, pointing at speakers

      Don't forget the permanent magnet erase that rendered tapes very noisy after a few re-records.

    2. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: A mic in each hand, pointing at speakers

      That happened on my portable Kisho deck even if you were recording via leads rather than the built-in microphone.

  29. HFPlane

    Gatefold sleeves

    This was their first real use: positioned around the microphone and radio to minimise the noise from domestic life. Futile though - somewhere I still have a Can In Concert tape where a Dixon of Dock Green police car nee-naws through the quiet bits.

    1. agurney

      Re: Gatefold sleeves

      In Dixon of Dock Green's time it was bells .. nee-naw was more like Z-Cars or the Sweeney

  30. bofh1961

    I still have a record deck for some of the old stuff and a cassette deck for demo tapes that are possibly now unique. I still use an FM tuner because I don't like the sound of DAB or online radio - a radio should sound like a radio! I know longer own a CD player. Mostly I listen to FLAC files using a modern(ish) PC and DAC through an ancient amp and speakers. It works for me.

    1. BenDwire Silver badge

      Try listening to the FLAC stream on Radio Paradise (.com) - fantastic quality when played through the old amp & speakers in my home office. I suspect I'm the same age as you, so you should enjoy the music that Bill plays ... and there are no adverts either.

  31. steviebuk Silver badge

    Got a call once at home...

    ...answered it and it was the speaking clock. I remember it cause it was odd. That was some time in the 90s.

    We don't miss most of the things on the list, they just create nostalgia. If you had to do all those things again you'd long for current times instead. A bit like the Milky Way advert the Red car vs the Blue car. Saw it a few years ago as they bought the advert back. Was very nostalgic. That lasted about 2 viewings at which point it then became as annoying as it was back when I originally saw it back in 89.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Got a call once at home...

      "[...] ...answered it and it was the speaking clock."

      People played that practical joke when the office had a new automatic exchange that allowed call transfers.

      1. Pedigree-Pete

        Re:automatic exchange that allowed call transfers..

        Yep. We used to call sex chat lines and transfer them to the MDs PA. Now I'm much nearer her age group now than at the time, I fear I owe her an apology.PP

    2. PaulyV

      Re: Got a call once at home...

      Still works though - just reading this has me heading out to the shop to buy a Milky Way. Lovely.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Got a call once at home...

        "just reading this has me heading out to the shop to buy a Milky Way. Lovely."

        They're smaller than they used to be.

  32. steviebuk Silver badge

    What I do actually miss is..

    ....taking the specific ring pulls off of Coke/Pepsi cans and then flicking them. Did that all through primary school and a bit in high school. Until they invented the ones we see now that stay on. Used to wonder the streets walking home collecting the old style ones.

    Sadly can no long be done as they are no longer made or available :(

    1. onefang

      Re: What I do actually miss is..

      "....taking the specific ring pulls off of Coke/Pepsi cans and then flicking them."

      At some point in the '70s they made soft drink cans with pop tops, two circular "buttons", one large, one small. Normally you pushed in the small one, which relieved the pressure enough so you could push in the large one, then guzzle it down with continuous air flow between the two.

      Except I would shake them up, push the small button slightly open against my teeth, letting the extra pressure from the shaken soft drink squirt the liquid out , and completely empty them of liquid, but leaving them still sealed, coz the button sprang back when you did that. I ended up with a large collection of empty but still sealed soft drink cans.

  33. davidp231

    You'll be fine...

    Just stay out of Camberwick Green.

  34. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    "such outmoded tasks as buying CDs (No. 10)"

    Some of us still do that. Quite a bit of the music I listen to (especially smaller prog bands) are not with record companies and so record and send out to master their own CDs and don't have distribution agreements with the likes of Apple or Google (or Amazon).

    I think the only form of streaming that I listen to is Internet Radio (like - prog music with no adverts[1] and no inane DJ chat). Well worth supporting!

    [1] Apart from the odd station announcement.

    1. Fihart

      Re: "such outmoded tasks as buying CDs (No. 10)"

      Sadly, CDs are rapidly vanishing. Used to buy them in charity shops and car boots for between 50p and £2 which is far better value than downloads. But now the choice is shrinking and, anyway, I don't understand current popular music. Now tend to buy orchestral-- the less challenging classics composers (the Russian Romantics, Spanish and French impressionist and English).

      I think CD remains the best/most convenient medium compared to vinyl which is easily damaged and really needs an expensive player. Though I own several turntables, I've transcribed many of my favourite vinyl titles using a CD recorder (which gives better results than a PC, probably due to the quality of the DACs).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "such outmoded tasks as buying CDs (No. 10)"

        "Used to buy them in charity shops and car boots for between 50p and £2"

        Our local hospice charity has two shops. One charges £1 for a CD or DVD - the other one charges £1 for 3. They appear to have presumed different levels of affluence/demand for the two shops based on their location. Oxfam and the Salvation Army shops have the highest prices.

        I get a crick in my neck trying to read the sideways edge labels - and it is physical contortions to scan the bottom two shelves.

        A treasure find is a limited edition CD of an unheard of church choir - from the days when their trebles were all boys. They are useful donations to the Archive of Church Music. Unfortunately the track list is usually the standard mum/gran pleasing Christmas carols.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "such outmoded tasks as buying CDs (No. 10)"

        "Sadly, CDs are rapidly vanishing. "

        Many bands will sell cd's at their shows. The last time I saw The Fixx, I picked up a self-produced CD and was able to get all of the band to autograph it. It's more expensive than the download, but the band keeps the lions share of the money and I get a tangible recording that won't go poof if my subscription lapses. BTW, the band re-recorded the tracks as somebody else had the Mechanical rights to songs on the previous albums, but it also meant that the songs had a few new arrangements. Good value for a fan.

  35. JimC

    Call the speaking clock...

    Goodness knows how many times I must have done that - every time I set up a new server and every time I was at a site and they complained the clock was out.

    And of course there was also the spoof business card "Want a good time? Dial Guildford 8081"

  36. Daedalus

    Bodging the 60's

    Wow, did nobody think of soldering a few wires to the speaker in the portable record player and running them to a 3.5 mm socket? At a pinch you could even strip an earplug wire and use that with the plug already attached. Just put it in the AUX IN on the portable (or the EXT MIC with careful control of volume) and you're all set to record without acrobatics. The tone might be terrible, especially into the MIC socket, but you didn't get much tone out of tape players anyway.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: Bodging the 60's

      We did do this. And then there was a market for mix tapes in the playground after the question was invariably asked, "was it recorded by mike or (gasp!) was it recorded by wire?"

  37. jelabarre59

    headphones and a mic

    Back in my high school days in the 70's, before I had an actual tape deck, I remember lashing together a recording setup for a portable tape recorder much like the one in the article's photo. Stuffed the (monaural obviously) microphone in between the padded headphones (you know, the ones that were like holding a teacup over each ear, only 4x heavier), holding them closed by wrapping string around them. Truly a (non)Hi-Fi experience.

  38. MachDiamond Silver badge

    I still make mix tapes, kinda

    I still have boxes of vinyl records, tapes and CD's along with Laser Discs that I've mostly ripped. My mix tapes are now Playlists on my iPod (now an iPod is old school). I don't put that stuff on my phone so I'm not running the phone battery flat playing music. I'd have to keep a power back with me since I need the phone for business as a phone.

  39. martinusher Silver badge

    Speaking Clock and other old technologies

    The speaking clock goes back to before WW2. A person actually spoke the time and the recording was transferred to large glass disks that were used in the playback unit. We take time synchronization for granted these days but back in the good old days it was more or less manual -- you listened for the pips and pressed the button on the last one.

    I started home recording with reel to reel tape but it wasn't that convenient or particularly cheap -- records used to be relatively cheap so there was less incentive to copy them. Records got a lot more expensive after CDs were introduced, the extra costs being due to the additional processing costs of making a CD (!) so that plus portability gave us an incentive to use cassettes even though they're not particularly high fidelity. Being an engineer I was always aware of the future even if it wasn't practical to have it at home -- I first worked with digital video in 1979, for example -- so it was a matter of waiting around until the proper stuff turned up.

  40. BongoJoe


    while a generic Gene Hunt kicks me in the nuts and calls me a "nonce".

    Wouldn't it have been Jack Regan?

  41. Unicornpiss
    Thumb Up

    Tape longevity

    I still have a BASF audiocassette of an elementary school Christmas program that I sang in back in 1977, painstakingly recorded in the school gymnasium by my father using an even older monaural SoundDesign cassette deck and a handheld mike, complete with my parents' comments and fidgeting.

    It still plays fine, and the sound quality is probably about the same as it ever was. This is one of the few things that has survived from a much more innocent, hopeful time in my life, and is precious as gold. Somehow it doesn't even seem right to make an MP3 or other recording of it, though I probably should someday for safety's sake.

    It's amazing how old analog media like this is so durable, when not mistreated, similar to actual paper books, while a (supposedly forever) digital stream or recording can apparently be so easily corrupted or lost. Not the least of reasons for this is that analog equipment doesn't recognize errors but will just reproduce what you have, for better or worse. It may degrade in time, but there will still be something there. The power of digital is how easily you can make an infinite number of copies, even it they're much more ephemeral on an individual basis. I also have a wire recording made by my father when he was in the service in WWII and I have little doubt that it would be playable, if I had anything to play it on.

    Yeah, the old days kind of sucked in many ways, but it makes me a little sad that current generations won't know the rite of passage that was making a mix tape (or even CD) to give to the person you had a crush on.

  42. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Didn't hack it?

    I used to wire up RCA jacks to the clockwise pin of the volume control pots of my equipment so I'd have line-out jacks. The best spot for line-in was usually trial and error by touching another device's line-out to anything that looked like a DC blocking capacitor near the microphone amp. The same soldering iron used for that wiring would be used to burn RCA jack mounting holes in the device too. I didn't have a lot of tools.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We dumped the VHSes at a charity shop.

    Now that's just cruel...

  44. JPeasmould

    couldn't do it

    Back in the dim and distant past (1980s) I started working in recording studios in London. The first thing that was drummed into me was not to take any cassette copies of anything - on pain of losing your job.

    Of course no-one else took a blind bit of notice but I'd had the fear put in me.

    If I was rewiring Trident studios copy room now and the masters of David Bowie's 70's recordings were lying in a box, I would take copies.

    At the time I just put the quarter inch tapes on and played them full blast all night while wielding the soldering iron.

    30 cassette machines and I didn't make one copy....


    I must say that, working in the eighties, there wasn't that much I wanted to keep. Soft Cell, Tears for Fears and Frankie Goes to Hollywood didn't excite me much but there was much worse (Einstürzende Neubauten springs to mind) out there.

  45. Floydian Slip

    C30 C60 C90 Go was on there

    OMG, mix tapes. I was a bit retentive about my mix tapes, never wanting any silence between tracks. I was lucky enough to have a 1/2 way decent stereo, separates dontcha know. So would record a track from the TT, take the tape out, wind it back a bit with a pencil and record the next track. I found the time it took the record head to engage was enough to produce a nice fade between tracks. (yes, I would play the start of the track several times and use the position of the label as the marker for where the music actually started)

    I also made a series of mix tapes for my car. I couldn't decide on the order, so wrote down ALL the tracks on paper, cut them all up, put them in a box and then recorded in the order I picked them (tombola style) out of the box. With approx 30 tracks to an average C90, I made a total of 4 tapes. Still have them - just no tape player :-(

  46. Potemkine! Silver badge

    An illustration about what's wrong in today's musical world

    "This video contains content from WMG. It is restricted from playback on certain sites or applications"

  47. Luiz Abdala

    I hated recording...

    My old man used to live near a FM radio broadcast antenna. Very near.

    Under it. Neighbor to it.

    You turned the LP player on: you could hear the radio.

    You turned the tape deck on: you could hear the radio.

    You turned the amp on: you could hear the radio.

    You turned the shelf speaker for the PC on: you could hear the radio.

    You stretched a piece of copper and bit it with your dental fillings: you could hear the radio.

    So you couldn't record anything. At all. Unless you wanted some random song or the evening news playing in the background, no you couldn't.

    One day, he bought a stereo system that would PURPOSELY speed up the LP, and speed up the cassete tape recorder at the same rate. You could take 23 minutes to copy 45 m. worth of music.... with the freaking radio songs played at half speed, off-tune, in the background. It was haunting to hear some tunes at half speed.

    I don't miss the experience of trying to filter a FM broadcaster out, that was violating every single local FCC rule.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: I hated recording...

      My old man used to live near a FM radio broadcast antenna

      Not wanting to doubt you, but that sort of interference sounds more like AM radio than FM to me, unless the FM was seriously out of kilter, overmodulating and hitting some last-ditch kind of limiter and thus effectively also broadcasting AM as a byproduct.

      I don't envy you and I would be wary of buying a house too close to a major transmitter (or an HV transmission line), for all sorts of reasons. I'm told, for example, that at some TV broadcast locations in the UK, there was enough power coming from the aerials (presumably in the days before digital) that fluorescent tubes in the buildings below would glow without needing to be switched on. This is a well-known trick under HV lines.

      I worked in local radio in the 1990s. We had four transmitters on three sites, but the FM ones were 2kW and 500W and the AM ones were 300W each, so even when some local low-life decided to try to make away with the feeder to one of the AM aerials they were never (as far as we knew) caught - would have expected the bolt-cutter-wielding perp to have presented at A&E with some nice RF burns...


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