Thursday, 01 Dec 2022

My friends call me the BlackBerry queen! Meet the people clinging on to old tech from faxes to VCRs

My friends call me the BlackBerry queen! Meet the people clinging on to old tech from faxes to VCRs


My friends call me the BlackBerry queen! Meet the people clinging on to old tech  from faxes to VCRs

More than 40 years since the fax machine became an office mainstay, it seems the party is finally over. With telecom providers no longer required to offer fax services, these machines may soon be consigned to the dusty attic of bygone tech. But for the TikTok generation, who've never known life without wifi, concepts such as fax, dial-up internet and Friday night trips to Blockbuster Video aren't just outdated, they're completely alien. Even so, not everyone has forgotten about the charms of older technology. From the clattering keys of an old typewriter to the nostalgic joy of a chunky Walkman, some people have never left their favourite tech behind.

Billy Cunliffe, 79, Wigan, retired

It took me three weeks to save up £60 to buy my first secondhand video player in 1981. Now I've got seven players and more than 6,000 VHS tapes which I've collected over the years. Although I do use Netflix, I prefer videos because I enjoy owning something physical, and I've got a lot of content you can't find on digital channels. I love my old movies, and I'm also a big rugby fan. I've recorded every Wigan match that's ever been shown on television.

I feel like VHS offers better picture and sound quality than DVDs, which scratch easily and stop working. The downside is that it's really hard to find VHS tapes and video players now, and when you do they can be expensive. People are going back to their roots and many now feel that older things look nice, so the prices of vintage tech are going up. I've started taping over some of the things I no longer watch as I find it impossible to get new blank tapes. Luckily I'm an engineer, so I've been able to repair a lot of my own video players and I take really good care of all my tapes. I'm a bit of an expert now.

As well as all the videos, I have more than 200 reel-to-reel tapes [magnetic tape audio recordings, popular in the 1950s and 60s], which include a recording I made of a televised Beatles performance at the London Palladium in 1963. I had to hold the microphone up to the television to record the sound, but the quality is just as good as the day they played. I've always been a big fan of vintage technology. My granddaughter loves vinyl and cassette tapes so I think she's following in my footsteps.

Lisa Ford, 54, St Louis, Missouri, nurse

I work in a hospital and still use the fax machine a lot. It's really practical, secure and straightforward. There are situations where you have to share information in a non-paperless way, so I do feel they still serve a purpose. I like them because they're incredibly easy to use, and it's visual rather than virtual, so you can see the confirmation that something has been sent and received. If you want to send a document virtually, you often have to convert it to PDF or another format, which is more complicated than a fax. I still use a pager too, which is great when you don't have phone reception or internet access because [it uses radio signals so] it will still go off.

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