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interesting infoage day

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  • Joe Giliberti
    today, Steve and a bunch of the radio guys went to the David Sarnoff Library in Princeton and got a 24 foot box truck full of stuff. The library is closing,
    Message 1 of 13 , Dec 21, 2009
      today, Steve and a bunch of the radio guys went to the David Sarnoff Library in Princeton and got a 24 foot box truck full of stuff. The library is closing, and Infoage got some of their stuff. Among the stuff are original Marconi blueprints, an RCA tube tester, and lots and lots and lots of books and manuals. I helped unload when they got back to Infoage around 2pm. Dave Sica reportedly took some things of possible interest to MARCH, but didn't have them with him.

      On a lighter though unfortunate note, Evan isn't the only one having trouble with renting autos. Steve rented a truck with a liftgate. It wasn't needed on Sarnoff side, since they had a high loading dock. When they got to Infoage, they found that it didn't work. That made moving the 400 pound micro film printer and the 500 pound 1950's projection TV interesting.

      Just a general report. It was an interesting day.

      Joe
    • David Gesswein
      ... I searched online but didn t find what the final decision on where the collection was going. Did it get broken up amoung many locations or did most go to
      Message 2 of 13 , Dec 22, 2009
        > today, Steve and a bunch of the radio guys went to the David Sarnoff Library
        > in Princeton and got a 24 foot box truck full of stuff. The library is
        > closing, and Infoage got some of their stuff.
        >
        I searched online but didn't find what the final decision on where the
        collection was going. Did it get broken up amoung many locations or did
        most go to one new home?
      • Ray Sills
        Hi David: I think I read that the collection was pretty much being split into two parts... and two locations. 73 de Ray
        Message 3 of 13 , Dec 22, 2009
          Hi David:

          I think I read that the collection was pretty much being split into
          two parts... and two locations.

          73 de Ray

          On Dec 22, 2009, at 7:52 AM, David Gesswein wrote:

          >> today, Steve and a bunch of the radio guys went to the David
          >> Sarnoff Library
          >> in Princeton and got a 24 foot box truck full of stuff. The
          >> library is
          >> closing, and Infoage got some of their stuff.
          >>
          > I searched online but didn't find what the final decision on where the
          > collection was going. Did it get broken up amoung many locations or
          > did
          > most go to one new home?
          >
        • evan@snarc.net
          ... collection was going. Did it get broken up amoung many locations or did most go to one new home? Some of it is going to the Hagley Museum in Delaware. Some
          Message 4 of 13 , Dec 22, 2009
            >>> I searched online but didn't find what the final decision on where the
            collection was going. Did it get broken up amoung many locations or did
            most go to one new home?

            Some of it is going to the Hagley Museum in Delaware. Some is going to the College of NJ (former Trenton State College).

            Infoage offered from the beginning to take it all, but Alex @ Sarnoff decided we're not professional enough.

            Personally, I agree with him.

            That's a controversial subject within Infoage. Despite all the various groups, Infoage is still dominated by well-intended radio guys. Many of them have impressive technical credentials, but are blind to (or even acutely belittle) the concept of serious historical methods.

            However this is gradually changing as Infoage gets more experience. People such as Diver Dan, Dave Sica, Fred, and myself all have a more academic approach to research.

            What we all still lack is the funding to properly preserve things like the Marconi archive. Perhaps in five years our facilities will be at that level.
          • Joe Giliberti
            The electron microscope would have been cool, though. It is unfortunate the amount of things just destined to be thrown away.
            Message 5 of 13 , Dec 22, 2009
              The electron microscope would have been cool, though. It is unfortunate the amount of things just destined to be thrown away.


              On Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 9:56 AM, <evan@...> wrote:
               

              >>> I searched online but didn't find what the final decision on where the
              collection was going. Did it get broken up amoung many locations or did
              most go to one new home?

              Some of it is going to the Hagley Museum in Delaware. Some is going to the College of NJ (former Trenton State College).

              Infoage offered from the beginning to take it all, but Alex @ Sarnoff decided we're not professional enough.

              Personally, I agree with him.

              That's a controversial subject within Infoage. Despite all the various groups, Infoage is still dominated by well-intended radio guys. Many of them have impressive technical credentials, but are blind to (or even acutely belittle) the concept of serious historical methods.

              However this is gradually changing as Infoage gets more experience. People such as Diver Dan, Dave Sica, Fred, and myself all have a more academic approach to research.

              What we all still lack is the funding to properly preserve things like the Marconi archive. Perhaps in five years our facilities will be at that level.

            • Joe Giliberti
              BTW, the EM is not being thrown out. It was given to TCNJ
              Message 6 of 13 , Dec 22, 2009
                BTW, the EM is not being thrown out. It was given to TCNJ

                On Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 5:13 PM, Joe Giliberti <starbase89@...> wrote:
                The electron microscope would have been cool, though. It is unfortunate the amount of things just destined to be thrown away.



                On Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 9:56 AM, <evan@...> wrote:
                 

                >>> I searched online but didn't find what the final decision on where the
                collection was going. Did it get broken up amoung many locations or did
                most go to one new home?

                Some of it is going to the Hagley Museum in Delaware. Some is going to the College of NJ (former Trenton State College).

                Infoage offered from the beginning to take it all, but Alex @ Sarnoff decided we're not professional enough.

                Personally, I agree with him.

                That's a controversial subject within Infoage. Despite all the various groups, Infoage is still dominated by well-intended radio guys. Many of them have impressive technical credentials, but are blind to (or even acutely belittle) the concept of serious historical methods.

                However this is gradually changing as Infoage gets more experience. People such as Diver Dan, Dave Sica, Fred, and myself all have a more academic approach to research.

                What we all still lack is the funding to properly preserve things like the Marconi archive. Perhaps in five years our facilities will be at that level.


              • David Gesswein
                ... It may be wandering a little too far off topic for the list but those two statements are confusing me. It seems like even if we aren t that professional we
                Message 7 of 13 , Dec 22, 2009
                  > It is unfortunate the
                  > amount of things just destined to be thrown away.
                  >
                  > > Infoage offered from the beginning to take it all, but Alex @ Sarnoff
                  > > decided we're not professional enough.
                  > >
                  It may be wandering a little too far off topic for the list but those
                  two statements are confusing me. It seems like even if we aren't that
                  professional we beat a dumpster. Or is it really that its down
                  to the last minute and moving all of it isn't possible?
                • Evan Koblentz
                  ... Here s how I understand the situation: - Papers go to TCNJ - Artifacts go to Hagley - InfoAge gets some of the duplicates - The dumpster gets * some
                  Message 8 of 13 , Dec 23, 2009
                    >> It is unfortunate the amount of things just destined to be thrown away.
                    >>
                    >>> Infoage offered from the beginning to take it all, but Alex @ Sarnoff decided we're not professional enough.
                    >>>
                    > It may be wandering a little too far off topic for the list but those two statements are confusing me. It seems like even if we aren't that professional we beat a dumpster. Or is it really that its down to the last minute and moving all of it isn't possible?

                    Here's how I understand the situation:
                    - Papers go to TCNJ
                    - Artifacts go to Hagley
                    - InfoAge gets some of the duplicates
                    - The dumpster gets * some perfectly good and historic things * that
                    have a tiny amount of mold, rather than let InfoAge take them, because
                    of Sarnoff's liability concerns and/or Alex's opinion of InfoAge

                    Dave Sica is the best person to elaborate. He is much closer to the
                    situation than any of us.
                  • Bill Degnan
                    I work right near the Hagley.
                    Message 9 of 13 , Dec 23, 2009
                      I work right near the Hagley.
                      > - Artifacts go to Hagley
                    • davesica
                      ... I ll give it a try. I hadn t been following this discussion (or much of anything else lately) cause I ve been spending almost every free minute for the
                      Message 10 of 13 , Dec 23, 2009
                        --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, Evan Koblentz <evan@...> wrote:
                        > Here's how I understand the
                        situation:
                        > - Papers go to TCNJ
                        > - Artifacts go to Hagley
                        >
                        - InfoAge gets some of the duplicates
                        > - The dumpster gets * some
                        perfectly good and historic things * that
                        > have a tiny amount of mold,
                        rather than let InfoAge take them, because
                        > of Sarnoff's liability
                        concerns and/or Alex's opinion of InfoAge
                        >
                        > Dave Sica is the best
                        person to elaborate.  He is much closer to the
                        > situation than any
                        of us.
                         

                        I'll give it a try. I hadn't been following this discussion (or much of anything else lately) 'cause I've been spending almost every free minute for the past several weeks down at Sarnoff helping prepare for the big sendoff.

                         

                        When the DSL first found out that it would no longer be possible to maintain the collection within Sarnoff Corporation's facility, there was a lot of FUD in the air. It was not immediately obvious where everything would go or how it would get there and some folks (including me) worried that some things might end up being trashed if there wasn't sufficient time, money or interest to save them. Fortunately, that has not proven to be the case.

                         

                        I can report that virtually ALL of the historically significant items and information has been saved and is simply moving to other homes. Yes, a tiny percentage of material was beyond salvation and it's become a running joke of Alex's to poke fun at me because I have been so adamant about not throwing any documents out before we had a chance to copy them or at least review them. Not to worry, ALL of the lab notebooks and other documents have been reviewed and the vast, vast majority has been transferred to the Hagley museum. It's a somewhat bittersweet realization that although this wonderful cornucopia of technical history won't be local to us any more, it will be much better off where it is now. The Hagley provides an environment wherein paper materials can realistically be expected to last for hundreds of years while being accessible to researchers. Storage conditions at Sarnoff were, to be polite, less optimal. In addition, because of changes in Sarnoff Corporations' business model, the archives were no longer easily accessible to researchers. You used to be able to just walk in off the street and review the material. That has not been possible for some time now. 

                         

                        Yes, some material did get trashed. But I can personally vouch for the mind-numbing un-interesting-ness of the few notebooks that were discarded. Some researchers such as Zworykin, Rose, Pritchard, Flory, Kell et al. for television and of course Weisbecker for computers are legendary. Their work is beyond any dispute worthy of being saved. And it all has been. But some of the poor technicians seem to have spent decades generating shelves full of notebooks containing little but, for example, tabular data regarding diffusion rates of gallium arsenide. Hundreds, even thousands of pages of numeric data - to several decimal places. Some of this information (a handful of notebooks out of many thousands) was lost and I have had to agree that the world will likely NOT be any worse off for it. For the record, “a tiny amount of mold” is probably understating the problem. While most of the material was in decent condition, some of the salvageable stuff had layers of white moss, or even multi-colored mold that, IIRC, was looking back at us as we examined it. The few really BAD items were covered with the stuff that nightmares are made of. You needed to take TWO baths after working with the moldy notebooks all day! I'm still itching.

                         

                        ALL of the historically significant artifacts in the museum are being transferred to a new museum home at the College of New Jersey. ALL of the archives, including lab notebooks, papers, textbooks, photos, plaques, films, videos and other media down to and including awards presented to David Sarnoff by the Princeton girl scouts have been transferred to their new home at the Hagley.

                         

                        And yes, InfoAge has received some of the material too. How the collection has been dispersed has been complicated. A lot of thought went into making sure that the collection would be preserved as well as possible. The reality of the situation is that the Hagley already had a huge RCA collection and has the professional and financial resources to handle the material that came from the DSL. InfoAge currently has neither the professional staff, available facilities nor the MONEY to curate such a massive and important collection. I certainly wish we did, and if I have anything to do with it, sooner or later we will, but face it, right now for all our best efforts and intentions, we were not the right place for this stuff to go. What we did receive was many items that are not historically significant to the collection and duplicates of some things that were. Most notable is a nearly life-sized oil portrait of "our man" Marconi. (Remember, RCA is a direct descendent of the American Marconi Company!) Be sure to see it when you next visit InfoAge. And we received hundreds of boxes of books (that's hundreds of BOXES of book, not hundreds of books --my arms are still happily sore two days after helping load and unload the truck) that comprise what will likely be the most complete collection of certain technical publications in the world. 

                         

                        So, the bottom line is: please, STOP WORRYING! Although we're all sad to see it go, access to the collection will actually be easier and preservation will be much, much better. The only downside is that these wonderful artifacts will no longer be just down the road in Princeton housed in their native habitat, the RCA Labs. C'est la vie. I doubt that David Sarnoff could have ever guessed that the eight hundred pound gorilla of a corporation he built would ever be in a position where it could not / would not curate RCA's history -- but I guess they're in pretty good company with AT&T and IBM and the American automobile industry, not to mention the entire American consumer electronics industry.

                         

                        I took numerous photos of the unending stream of artifacts we slogged through and I'll try to get them organized and shared so you can all get a taste of some of the mega-historic stuff we've been literally up to our armpits in for the past month or two. I took it as a personal mission to photograph Zworykin's notebooks, which had never been copied before. And I managed to find time to scan hundreds of photographs dating back to the birth of electronic television in the United States (my pet subject), along with everything we could find relating to Marconi and Camp Evans. It was a real privilege to be a part of this rescue operation. It seemed like every time I opened a new box of photos or a new book, I was stunned by the amount and the variety of historic information that was there. My head was spinning. If you never toured the David Sarnoff Museum in Princeton, you have certainly missed something extraordinary. But you'll definitely want to plan to make a trip to TCNJ and to the Hagley to see this stuff with your own eyes. It's still all there and if you have even an ounce of geek blood running through your veins, you'll feel like a kid in a candy store.

                         

                        And yes, I did manage to intercept a bunch of little computer odds and ends that might have ended up being discarded. As I told Evan, they're likely nothing of any great interest; it certainly doesn't look like much to my relatively uneducated eyes. But I always have the hope that when more knowledgeable folks check it out, it might prove to be something really neat, or even important. That happens surprisingly often when folks bring in boxes of "grandpa's old radio junk" to NJARC one step ahead of putting it on the curb. One day I'd love to hear Evan exclaim "Wow, a (insert name of your favorite unobtanium computer part here)!" instead of his trademark <yawn> for most the drek I've dug up so far. However, this PARTICULAR drek did come from within the bowels of RCA labs, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

                         

                        Happy Holidays,

                        --Dave Sica

                         



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                      • brian_cirulnick
                        ... Hrmmm. It makes me wonder if we re not all documenting and archiving the rise and fall of the United States of America as a technological leader.
                        Message 11 of 13 , Dec 24, 2009
                          --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, davesica <davesica@...> wrote:

                          > I doubt that
                          > David Sarnoff could have ever guessed that the eight hundred pound
                          > gorilla of a corporation he built would ever be in a position where it
                          > could not / would not curate RCA's history -- but I guess they're in
                          > pretty good company with AT&T and IBM and the American automobile
                          > industry, not to mention the entire American consumer electronics
                          > industry.
                          -----------------

                          Hrmmm. It makes me wonder if we're not all documenting and archiving the rise and fall of the United States of America as a technological leader.
                        • Dan Roganti
                          ... I doubt that David Sarnoff could have ever guessed that the eight hundred pound gorilla of a corporation he built would ever be in a position where it
                          Message 12 of 13 , Dec 24, 2009
                            brian_cirulnick wrote:
                            --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, davesica <davesica@...> wrote:
                            
                              
                            I doubt that
                            David Sarnoff could have ever guessed that the eight hundred pound
                            gorilla of a corporation he built would ever be in a position where it
                            could not / would not curate RCA's history -- but I guess they're in
                            pretty good company with AT&T and IBM and the American automobile
                            industry, not to mention the entire American consumer electronics
                            industry.
                                
                            -----------------
                            
                            Hrmmm. It makes me wonder if we're not all documenting and archiving the rise and fall of the United States of America as a technological leader.
                              

                            Are we so myopic to think that since we don't make TV's here any longer (or any commercial product) that we no longer have the technological prowess in this country (there are other markets that we produce) ?!?

                            =Dan
                            -- 
                            http://home.comcast.net/~ragooman/
                            http://www.midatlanticretro.org/
                            
                          • Bob Applegate
                            ... Most companies are so focused on the short term (3 month, as in one financial quarter) that they don t start projects that can t produce revenue in the
                            Message 13 of 13 , Dec 24, 2009

                              On Dec 24, 2009, at 4:26 PM, Dan Roganti wrote:

                               

                              brian_cirulnick wrote:

                              --- In midatlanticretro@ yahoogroups. com, davesica <davesica@...> wrote:
                              
                                
                              I doubt that
                              David Sarnoff could have ever guessed that the eight hundred pound
                              gorilla of a corporation he built would ever be in a position where it
                              could not / would not curate RCA's history -- but I guess they're in
                              pretty good company with AT&T and IBM and the American automobile
                              industry, not to mention the entire American consumer electronics
                              industry.
                                  
                              ------------ -----
                              
                              Hrmmm. It makes me wonder if we're not all documenting and archiving the rise and fall of the United States of America as a technological leader.
                                

                              Are we so myopic to think that since we don't make TV's here any longer (or any commercial product) that we no longer have the technological prowess in this country (there are other markets that we produce) ?!?

                              Most companies are so focused on the short term (3 month, as in one financial quarter) that they don't start projects that can't produce revenue in the very short term and only then if the NRE can be recouped in a few quarters.  Most companies have drastically reduced pure R&D because they (and the stockholders) are too focused on the stock price tomorrow.  Saying you plan on investing heavily in new technology development for several years will drive down the stock price which then results in pressure from major stockholders.  They don't want innovation, they want rising stock prices in the short term.

                              Bob


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