Have you ever wondered why the ubiquitous toy telephone a toddler usually receives as a gift on his first birthday has a rotary dial and is shaped exactly like the communication device only his great-grandmother remembers using? Is there something about “ye olde” equipment that reminds us of the days when things consistently worked well?
The hardy rotary telephone rang bells in my mind recently when I read a reprinting of Benoit Leveille’s gripping 2009 tale about the effectiveness of state-of-the-art equipment versus the old tried-and-true, in EDN Network’s Tales from the Cube. In this story, the “ugly” sister, an old analog HP spectrum analyzer (could it have been the 8551A, which was introduced in 1964?) is the heroine of the story.
Leveille creates a tension-building saga that blends a repair technician’s worst nightmare—finding nothing wrong with the instrument—with a classic story-telling theme, the pauper’s triumph over the prince.
To discover how a $50,000 digital test set could not pick up a noise floor problem, which, while troubleshooting with the old “frequency-domain oscilloscope”, was found to be caused by a mere transistor gone wrong, visit the EDN Network and read “Hawk eyes, analog equipment trump expensive digital test set“.
Now I’m wondering why those toy telephones are usually painted in primary colors instead of black, but that’s a tale for another day.