Feb. 27th, 2017

kengr: (Default)
A bit ago, I was reminded of some technology that was common when I was in school, but would likely startle folks like Fay.

This was the filmstrip projector, specifically, the *synchronized* filmstrip projector.

Let's start by describing a filmstrip. It was a length of 35 mm film, complete with sprocket holes like the films in theaters. But rather than a movie, it was a sequence of still images. The teacher would thread the filmstrip into the projector, and advanced the film to the first frame. This projected on a movies screen at the front of the classroom.

After we'd had time to absorb the important knowledge on that frame, the filmstrip would be advanced to the next frame. The better machines and a control (connected by a cable that the teacher could use to move forward or backwards by a frame. The really good ones even let you adjust the focus.

Now, that was a simple filmstrip projector. The *synchronized* units incorporated a record player. The record would provide the audio (read "lecture") and would emit a "beep" when it was time to advance to the next frame of the filmstrip.

When it was working right this was great. When it wasn't...

It was especially fun since the main class I remember them from was music class. So often they'd be giving some of the history of music (say "Songs of the Civil War") and they'd have lyrics of a song on the screen as they played it. If things got out of synch the results were "interesting".

Yet this "touchy" technology was ubiquitous.

These days, I can picture kids watching a demo of a synchronized filmstrip projector and refusing to believe that it was really used. :-)

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