metro >> Jews in the digital age
the future of awesome"
When Old Technology
Is Just What We Need
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t's unusual for me to write about
kept a small 78
as her father's voice emanated from the
old technology In the tech field,
rpm record with
speaker wishing his young daughter a
what's new is what's interesting and
her. It was a birth- "Happy Birthday:'
newsworthy. Yesterday's technology
day gift from her
I video-recorded this entire event
quickly becomes obsolete — the news of
father more than
using my SmartPhone as I tried to make
a bygone era.
70 years ago. On
sense out of the moment. I was listening
Yet, sometimes it is the old technol-
the record were
to my great-grandfather's voice for the
ogy that can be more interesting than
first time from the old technology of a
the latest gadget or about-to-be-released
birthday greetings phonograph as I recorded in high-defi-
mobile app. As is the case with Judaism,
from her mother,
nition video my grandmother receiving
we can embrace change and still revere
father and sister.
her audio birthday greetings after seven
She never listened decades. Tradition and change.
As a way to pay homage to the tech-
to that record —
I'm glad my grandmother was able to
nology innovations of yesteryear and
not even once.
purchase a record player to listen to that
to feel nostalgic, I keep a collection of
And then last week, at age 92, my
cherished audio recording for the first
old tech gadgets on display in my office.
grandmother ordered that piece of old
time. At that moment I had flashbacks
Hanging on the wall in glass cases are a
technology — a record player — from
to when she would play music on a
panoply of laptop computers, personal
the store and had it shipped to her West
record player for me when I was a child.
digital assistants and mobile phones
Bloomfield home so she would be able
And here I was, now an adult, sitting
from a much slower and much bulkier
to finally listen to her family's voices
with my own children as my grand-
time. On the wall in the conference
after all those many decades.
mother demonstrated to them how a
room hang several enlarged framed
My grandmother is no stranger to
magazine advertisements for computers
technology. She uses her computer to
And thanks to this very old technol-
from the 1970s and early 1980s.
surf the Web with a wireless Internet
ogy my children were able to listen to
While these visual reminders cer-
connection, she has a cellphone, and
their great-great-grandfather's voice.
tainly offer a nostalgic glimpse into tech
And thanks to the new technology of
she could teach a class in programming
past, they also remind us of how far
my cellphone's video recording capabil-
a DVR. But to listen to this birthday
we've come so quickly in the world of
ity they'll be able to show their own
record, she needed a phonograph.
Together with my children, who
children — my grandchildren — the
Every once in a while it isn't the latest
video of their great-grandmother finally
had never even seen an audio record
greatest technology that we're looking
hearing her recorded birthday greetings.
before, we watched as my grandmother
for. Quite often I've had to dig into stor-
New technology is wonderful. But
took the record out of its sleeve (with a
age to find that old CD-ROM install disk handwritten note from her father tell-
sometimes it's the old technology that is
of the software that was needed to open
just what we need.
ing her to "preserve this") and gently
a certain file. Or someone has asked
placed it on the turntable. Her sister's
me if I have an electric charger for their
Rabbi Jason Miller is a local educator, blog-
voice immediately came on. It was the
old organizer so they can find a contact
ger, technologist and entrepreneur. He is
first time I'd ever heard my great-aunt
from their phonebook or a long-lost
president of Access Computer Technology in
speak as she died long before I was
photograph of a loved one.
born. And then my grandmother flipped West Bloomfield. Follow him on Twitter at
It's fun to use the tech gadgets of
the record over and set the needle on it
today, but sometimes we
yearn for the nostalgia
of turning on a laptop
computer from our col-
lege years or perform-
ing a HotSync with that
PalmPilot that's been
collecting dust in the base-
ment just to see what data
is still on there.
Sometimes we seek out
old technology just for the
fond memories, and some-
times it's for more practical
means. I recently had the
opportunity to witness the
use of old technology for
Ever since she was a
young girl, my grand-
mother, Adele Gudes, has
Adele Gudes plays her family's 70-year-old audio recording for the first time.
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July 11 •