Author Topic: Historical Perspective  (Read 1198 times)

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R.G.

Historical Perspective
« on: September 13, 2017, 10:42:08 AM »
I had one of those sit up and think realizations yesterday.

I realized that now (2017) is separated from the design of many of the amps, guitars, and pedals we revere - early 60s Fender, Marshall, Vox, Fuzz Face, Coloursound, etc. - by the same amount of time that elapsed between the American Civil War and World War I.

It struck me as profound.
R.G.

Quick IQ Test: If anyone in a governmental position suspected that YOU had top-secret information on YOUR computer, how many minutes would you remain outside a jail cell?

Mark Hammer

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 11:04:52 AM »
It happens, don't it?
I frequently have similar moments when I think "The time that has passed since such-and-such an album or TV show is equivalent to the time between WWII and when I was in high school/university." (and don't get me started on how much of my life has taken place since university, as opposed to before it).

F'rinstance, this forum has been around in one form or another for a little over 20 years, having started off life as an appendage to AMPAGE (which became the Music Electronics Forum).  So, cast your mind back to 1983, when MIDI was first introduced.  Now, go back 20 years before that.  Did anyone in 1963 have ANY inkling of what would transpire?  Well, maybe Joe Meek or Bob Moog, but maybe even they couldn't have imagined.

Okay, now first wrap your head in duct tape to prevent unsightly explosions, and think about how long the Rolling Stones have been around.  Now try to imagine an artist in, say 1975, who might have been playing with the same folks since 1922 or so.

So yep, we forget about history...a lot.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 02:21:58 PM by Mark Hammer »

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Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 11:14:53 AM »
hahah... and in 1947 a "flying saucer" crashes in roswell... and suddenly the transistor shows up. and rock-n-roll. coinkydink?

nice post RG !!

mark... the problem with forgetting history is we tend to repeat it.

or make another fuzz that sounds almost like the LAST fuzzbox ;)

peas!
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Transmogrifox

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 12:57:36 PM »
mark... the problem with forgetting history is we tend to repeat it.

We are generally foolish enough to repeat history knowing full-well what happened last time.  Education is not a cure for foolishness and pride.
trans·mog·ri·fy
tr.v. trans·mog·ri·fied, trans·mog·ri·fy·ing, trans·mog·ri·fies To change into a different shape or form, especially one that is fantastic or bizarre.

Mark Hammer

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 01:07:27 PM »
Lotsa folks know history.  The hard part is recognizing what parts of it are relevant to one's current choices and challenges.

I was once tasked with going over employee survey results with a senior manager who was convinced that none of it really bore any relevance to the present, because in the 8 months since the survey had been conducted, three-quarters of staff in their branch had left and been replaced.  Yes, few of the folks who had registered complaints in the survey were there anymore, but the fact that they had left is what makes their responses relevant.  Dontcha think?

Knowing what one needs to learn from history is the critical component.

Fancy Lime

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 01:35:10 PM »
And we are now further away from the founding of the Rolling Stones than that was from the invention of the triode tube and the discovery of the LED-effect in 1907. We are further away from the release of Mötley Crües debut album that that was from the invention of the transistor. Hair metal is half as old as the transistor. Holy mothballs. And still no flying cars, teleportation, time travel or any of the stuff we were promised in the 50s and 60s. Well, there is videotelephony for everyone now, so... yeah?

With all the talk about history repeating itself I'm really glad this is not a political discussion forum. Oh yeah, we are further away from the end of the last major war between western countries than the average human live span. Thats a historical first we could celebrate a bit more often.

Andy
Sound is like a complex number. It consists of a real and an imaginary part but that does not mean that the imaginary part does not exist. The unit for measuring the imaginary part is called 'mojo'.

PRR

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 07:47:02 PM »
> try to imagine an artist in, say 1975, who might have been playing with the same folks since 1922 or so.


OK, Papa John Creach's career starts nearer 1935 than 1922, but he rocked into the 1990s.

There is also "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag", which bridges 1926 to 1975, but isn't much played in 2017.

Up through 2000, in a non-rock context, I knew cellist Zara Nelsova. Truly ageless; but she (with her sisters) supported her family through the Depression as a child prodigy, so you figure it. She had a LOT of students right to the end, and they all praised her teaching. (One tidbit: the gown is more important than the music.)

Mark Hammer

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2017, 09:24:42 PM »
...and Louis Armstrong's career went for five decades.  Mind you, these are individuals with individual careers.  It wasn't the same as Mick, Keef, and Charlie playing together for over 5 decades.

head_spaz

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2017, 07:18:16 AM »
Speaking of the Rolling Stones, I heard that at their last concert people were throwing joints up on the stage... and Mick Jagger kept stumbling over all those knee and hip replacements.
 :icon_wink:
Deception does not exist in real life, it is only a figment of perception.

amptramp

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2017, 03:39:57 PM »
And we are now further away from the founding of the Rolling Stones than that was from the invention of the triode tube and the discovery of the LED-effect in 1907. We are further away from the release of Mötley Crües debut album that that was from the invention of the transistor. Hair metal is half as old as the transistor. Holy mothballs. And still no flying cars, teleportation, time travel or any of the stuff we were promised in the 50s and 60s. Well, there is videotelephony for everyone now, so... yeah?

With all the talk about history repeating itself I'm really glad this is not a political discussion forum. Oh yeah, we are further away from the end of the last major war between western countries than the average human live span. Thats a historical first we could celebrate a bit more often.

Andy

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MaxPower

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2017, 09:07:23 PM »
Speaking of Tangerine Dream.....

I was studying Jfets and the author mentioned how designers had difficulty adjusting from tubes and their voltage amplification ways to transistors and their current amplifying ways. Well, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because having started with transistors, tubes seem a bit daft.

I wonder, in this world of ones and zeros, how much longer tubes will be around.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us - Emerson

PRR

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2017, 10:55:35 PM »
> how much longer tubes will be around.

The Age Of Tubes was 1915 to (say) 1965.

Yet every town has a store that sells vacuum tubes, tube production is a robust steady business, 50 years after the 50 year Tube Age.

Rob Strand

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2017, 09:40:20 AM »
Weird.  I've had similar thoughts in the last 6 months.
I look at the guitar I bought when I was a kid and now it's nearly 40ys old.
Then I look at schematics I traced for people on this group. 
It seems like only a few years back but it's getting on to 15 years.


The mind often distorts without gain.

ElectricDruid

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2017, 10:07:13 AM »
I wonder, in this world of ones and zeros, how much longer tubes will be around.

To be honest, I think the danger period for tubes has passed. They became obsolete, almost died out and disappeared, but didn't quite. Now they're back, not as an essential, but as a nostalgic luxury. I think they can continue like that pretty much forever. What's happened is they've found a niche. They're not the universal solution to amplification problems that they once had to be by necessity, but they have a role. Until everyone stops trying to model "tube sound", I can't see the real thing going anywhere. Someone will always pay the extra for the bragging rights associated with having a genuine tube amp, every if the sim running on your phone sounds just and good and offers ten times more variation.

T.

Fancy Lime

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2017, 10:28:49 AM »
I think most inventions have a kind of "persistent use" past their prime. The Stirling engine still has certain niche applications and is still being optimized for new ones. People are still (or again) buying vinyl records. You can buy hand-forged felling axes despite a chainsaw costing a fraction of that and doing the same job much more efficiently. But chopping down a tree with an ax, especially a good one, is just so much more gratifying. Humans are a bit strange that way, I guess. We are now at the point where discrete transistors are pretty obsolete for most of the jobs the once held. At least the through-hole variety. I might have to switch to smd at some point.

Cheers,
Andy
Sound is like a complex number. It consists of a real and an imaginary part but that does not mean that the imaginary part does not exist. The unit for measuring the imaginary part is called 'mojo'.

Electron Tornado

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2017, 04:16:47 AM »
I realized that now (2017) is separated from the design of many of the amps, guitars, and pedals we revere - early 60s Fender, Marshall, Vox, Fuzz Face, Coloursound, etc. - by the same amount of time that elapsed between the American Civil War and World War I.

One difference is that no one sitting in a trench in France was thinking, "Gosh, what I wouldn't give for a vintage muzzle loader and a supply of NOS rounds."  :icon_wink:

About 20 years ago I went to hear a WWII fighter pilot talk about his experiences during the war. To put his talk in perspective, he related to us that as a boy of about 10 or 11, he was in a similar setting listening to a Civil War veteran tell his stories of that war.

Learning from history:  I've often wondered if engineering students should have a required course in the history of technology. I think a lot could be learned from "how they used to do it", as well as putting a lot into perspective. As an example, I can remember when the use of composite materials in aircraft was something high tech and cutting edge. However, the first aircraft were built with composite material - wood. Is the use of wood in aircraft (like tubes in electronics) dated? When Kaman designed their KMAX helicopter, what turned out to be the best material for the rotor blade spars was Spruce wood.

C-130 first flight, August 1954
B-52 first flight, April 1952
Piper Super Cub first flight, 1949 (clones still being produced today)
OK, where's the data?

"Top hole. Bally Jerry pranged his kite right in the how's your father. Hairy blighter, dicky-birdied, feathered back on his Sammy, took a waspy, flipped over his Betty Harper's and caught his can in the Bertie."

Fancy Lime

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2017, 04:36:47 AM »
History in engineering: I should hope that is part of any curriculum, is it not? I'm not an engineer but in all the introductory chemistry, physics, geology and programming classes I've ever sat in, "how this concept was developed/discovered" was always an important part. We analyzed steam engines for half a semester just to understand where thermodynamics concepts come from. Pretty useless today from a practical application point of view but absolutely vital for understanding why certain terms have certain names and very helpful for understanding how energy transfer works in any system.

Andy
Sound is like a complex number. It consists of a real and an imaginary part but that does not mean that the imaginary part does not exist. The unit for measuring the imaginary part is called 'mojo'.

amptramp

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2017, 03:52:44 PM »
We did have a History of Technology class in university (electrical engineering) and one of the things that stands out is the presence of certain people and the order in which things were discovered has made a tremendous difference in our culture.  For example, the first internal combustion car was about 15 years ahead of the first aircraft.  If that had been the other way around, would we all be flying to work instead of driving now?  Without cars, there would be no suburbs like the one I live in.  If the FET could have been discovered as a practical item rather than a piece of carbon with a gate attached to it, would we have ever discovered bipolar devices?

I often wonder what Atlantean culture was like with a generally different order of discovery.

Electron Tornado

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2017, 05:23:35 PM »
We did have a History of Technology class in university (electrical engineering) and one of the things that stands out is the presence of certain people and the order in which things were discovered has made a tremendous difference in our culture. 

That reminds me of James Burke's series Connections and The Day The Universe Changed.

Things like you mention also makes you wonder what might have happened if someone had done more with Hero's engine, or if someone had taken Sir George Cayley's work on aeronautics further before the Wright brothers. It also makes you wonder what developments, even those only considered novel, we have today that are being ignored.

My point regarding such a course was to show the hows and whys of how engineers in the past solved problems. As an example, how did the Germans come up with the idea of using cow stomachs to make large gas bags that were less leaky for the hydrogen used in Zeppelins?
OK, where's the data?

"Top hole. Bally Jerry pranged his kite right in the how's your father. Hairy blighter, dicky-birdied, feathered back on his Sammy, took a waspy, flipped over his Betty Harper's and caught his can in the Bertie."

PRR

Re: Historical Perspective
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2017, 09:37:54 PM »
> using cow stomachs

People used to cut-up their own animals, or at least had such a shop down the street.

People have used guts for bags for almost everything. Before cellulose casings, sausage was cased in boiled intestines. "Catgut" for string instruments is sheep or horse (not cat) gut. Haggis is leftovers boiled in a sheep's stomach and piped-in by bagpipes (which are apparently skins not guts). Bota bags (wine) were lined with goat bladders.

The line from Hero to Watt to Cugnot to Selden to to Bollée to Marcus to Benz didn't have to flow that exact way; but each era builds on technique developed before. Hero's steam spinner could hardly turn itself: bad layout and inadequate materials. Watt's engines depended on mature boilers to mask terrible piston leaks. Selden proposed a lot of ideas which were simply not practical until 10-20 more years of machine tool development.

YES, there should be more history of technology, and failure of technology, teaching in engineering. But this could be a 4-year program just to cover the highlights. Some of them quite subtle: White and Doble steam cars were extremely well put together but never got traction against explosion engines... why? WHY did gasoline bang-engines explode into popularity? (hint: Spindletop) Why is the perfectly good 2-phase electric AC system now vanished?