My father received this invitation card for a trade show in 1981. I have always liked the simplicity of it, that is why I have kept it for over 25 years. As you can see,there is a flexidisc attached, and the card itself is a simple gramophone. The flexi must have had a few hundred plays by now, and the needle is just a steel pin, but it still functions pretty well.
I am enjoying the digital age as much as anyone - this video was made with my cheap point-and-shoot - but there is a special kind of elegance to this kind of analog/mechanical technology. It is more than just nostalgia. It is the fact that you can completely understand how it works just by inspecting it, with no more understanding of physics needed than what you can aquire in the course of everyday life. I guess the special fascination some people feel for steam engines, mechanical clocks or barrelorgans has similar grounds.
(I have noticed some people are too young to remember flexidiscs. They were records pressed on a thin sheet of vinyl, usually but not always only on one side. You could play them on your regular gramophone. They were used as magazine inserts, and in mass mailings- Readers Digest used to send out a lot of them to promote their boxed lp sets. I have heard some early microcumputer magazines used them to distribute software, but I don´t have any of those in my collection.)
Tuesday, March 04, 2008