That's Obsolete!

Exploring the Cutting Edge of Yesterday's Technologies

A Place in Time

Written By: Doug Begley - Aug• 01•13
Fulton, Illinois in 1924.

Fulton, Illinois in 1924.

While rummaging through some old photographs, I came across two that captured my interest. Each was stamped with a number and handwritten description in back, and had been held in a photo binder at one time. I don’t know who took them or what their original purpose was, and I can’t even recall how I came across them. But the contrast to today is striking.

In the days before consumers amassed material goods and swarmed all over retail centers like worker bees around flower beds, people – customers – went to town center to buy what they needed. In those days it made no sense at all to live outside of town unless you were a farmer. Who’d take on the high expense of a horse or car to travel to your work every day when all you had to do was live in town and walk or perhaps take public transportation on over? Off the top of my head, only a doctor, vet, or manufacturer’s rep needed private transportation. The enticing freedom offered by the automobile was gaining ground though, and it would later prove to be (more…)

Remember Faxed Jokes?

Written By: Doug Begley - May• 21•13

Back in the days before e-mail and websites, it was postal mail, phone, or fax. Faxes were the medium of choice for jokes, and were sent from office to office until the 50th generation resembled a Jackson Pollock painting. Obviously, you were supposed to pass it around the office and fax it on to someone else that you knew. The fax below is still clean and new-looking. If you have trouble reading the image, just click on it to view the PDF.


The Big Hurt

Written By: Doug Begley - May• 12•13


I’ve been recording old records onto my computer in order to generate MP3’s. I was going through a family collection of 45’s and found this gem issued by Gilmar Record Club, which was started in 1956. What Gilmar did was to record their versions of the popular hits of the day, using unknown artists and, apparently minimal practice and studio time to issue them. In The Big Hurt, the main vocalist and backup vocalists are not in the same key – just a little off – and the singer struggles to match them, because if she does, she’s not in tune with the instruments, either. It’s painful to hear, and a reminder that low cost doesn’t always equate to being a bargain. Woof!

Just click on the 1MB file below, and if the window displaying it doesn’t play it immediately, click on it again. Then, hold on tight.

The Big Hurt 80

Looking for the Full-Time RVing Website, Hey?

Written By: Doug Begley - May• 07•13

As of today, That’s Obsolete will revert back to its original goal: a not-very-clever look back at cutting edge technologies of the past. The subject separation has been made, and from this point on, all posts having to do with squandering my life will now be posted over at Strolling Amok. Use the link and bookmark the new location, because ain’t gonna be no more RV/camping articles hereabouts!

Strolling Amok



Written By: Doug Begley - Apr• 30•13

“Security was attained in the earlier days through the interdependence of members of families upon each other and of the families within a small community upon each other. The complexities of great communities and of organized industry make less real these simple means of security. Therefore, we are compelled to employ the active interest of the Nation as a whole through government in order to encourage a greater security for each individual who composes it . . . This seeking for a greater measure of welfare and happiness does not indicate a change in values. It is rather a return to values lost in the course of our economic development and expansion . . .”
Franklin D. Roosevelt: Message of the President to Congress, June 8, 1934.

Photo by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration, 1936.

Photo by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration, 1936.

How is it possible that so many patriots who loudly advocate crushing the insidious tentacles of socialism in these United States of America, do so while proudly pocketing their Social Security, Disability, or Medicare benefits?

We call Social Security a “trust fund” and tell ourselves that we paid for it, but we aren’t really getting our own money back now. It never worked (more…)

I’ll Be Missing This!

Written By: Doug Begley - Apr• 20•13

Here’s an upcoming event worth mentioning, and worth going to even if your interest in vintage cars is close to nonexistent. It’s the Model A Day in Sharon, Wisconsin. It takes place on the first Sunday in June, which this year is June 2nd. Sharon is just barely over the border, immediately north of Harvard, Illinois. My own big regret is that on that day I’ll be on my way to Rochelle, Illinois and won’t be arriving “home” in Marengo until June 3rd. Poo!

Here’s what one site describes it as: “Sponsored by the Sharon Main Street Association with assistance from the Rock-Ford A’s of Rockford, Illinois. Free admission for this all day event which runs from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in a historic downtown near the Wisconsin-Illinois state line. Re-live the Roaring 20’s era with over 200 Model A cars lining the streets. Watch era re-enactors and costumed residents while dancers and music entertainers perform in the town’s gazebo. Enjoy an ice cream social, pig roast with all the trimmings and other homemade treats. Swap meet and vendors.”

This little event in an even littler town is a serious hoot. Sharon itself is a vintage town. Nearly all of the original architecture is still there. Between that, the host of 1930s cars, the costumed street players, and hopefully the return of the West End Jazz Band, you will thoroughly enjoy yourself. This isn’t really a car show at all – that’s just an excuse to fill out the setting and have fun. Of the thirty-plus summer events I went to in my last year of running the McHenry County Vintage Car Gazette, this was the pick of the litter. My recommendation? Drive up there a little past 9AM, find yourself street parking along Martin Street just outside the main drag through town (Baldwin Street), put on a sun hat and keep a few bucks in your pocket for some great food, and wander. Go into a couple of shops, particularly the Sharon Main Street and Mercantile. If you see some suffragettes demonstrating in the intersection of Baldwin and Plain, don’t wander too far away, and get ready to smile.

Below is a regurgitation of their 2011 event. This year is their 17th. I don’t really have the bandwidth to be uploading 200MB videos, so by doing this, you know I’m serious.

Microfilm Call-Out

Written By: Doug Begley - Mar• 30•13

microfilmWould it spook anyone to know that I have four small sheets of microfilm concerning product development of the F-111 swing-wing fighter-bomber? You know, the one that flew the attack mission against Libya in 1986? It entered service in 1967, the same as these film sheets are dated. The General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark was a medium-range tactical strike aircraft first went to the U.S. Air Force. It pioneered variable-sweep wings that were actually practical, afterburning turbofan engines, and automated terrain-following radar to allow high speed at very low altitudes.

The F-111 was built-to-purpose, since the downing of the high-altitude U2 by Soviet missiles showed that high altitude bombing would obviously no longer survive as an attack method. The new want became a high-speed plane that could carry bombs at very low altitudes over long distances. The closest equivalent at the time was one of my favorites, the F-105 Thunderchief. The F-105 basically resembled a very large, sleek, all-engine missile with stubby wings. The wings were pretty much there for appearances unless you were proceeding with considerable vigor. Unfortunately, though fast as hell, the Thunderchief required long runways to take off and a parachute to (more…)


Written By: Doug Begley - Mar• 29•13

Taxi CardI just found this old taxi card for the Yellow Cab Company in Joliet IL, but how far back do you have to go to pay just 25 cents for the first 1/3 mile? Did you know I drove a taxi for a few weeks in Champaign-Urbana right after I gradiated collige in 1972? You had to pay for your own gas, and they didn’t assign rides – they just announced them – so it was a sprint to see who was closest for the pickup. Fortunately, I got a call for a career job interview before I could either go broke or take off a fender.