Digital8 – Digital Obsolescence


I suspect like many people I have numerous boxes of camcorder video tapes acquired over the years, some are the older 8mm video format and the later ones being Digital 8mm. Many of the videos are recordings of me running my dogs in agility competitions and others are the normal holiday type, obviously they all have a strong sentimental value.

A few years back I had made a start in archiving tapes onto DVD but didn’t get too far because of time and other commitments.

I was already acutely aware that the Digital 8 format had almost gone the way of Betamax with Sony not producing any new cameras and was aware should my trusty used and much abused Sony camcorder fail I would unable to view them. However the bewildering range of current equipment and the move to hard drive base equipment filled me with dread and I’d kept put off making a decision on a replacement and continued to use the camera as normal.

Well the enviable happened a few week back and the camcorder started exhibiting playback issues, lots of coloured mosaic banding.

Thankfully eBay came to the rescue and I’ve finally managed to get a good condition used replacement camera at a sensible price. It is obvious I am not alone in this predicament given the frankly amazing prices some other auctions finally went for.

Now I can transfer them to DVD, but there are still worries that these might not last, so I will probably transfer them to some large hard drives, but how do I format them…. it’s never ending…

Toys of yesteryear – Videomaster Star Chess

My brother has been posting on the YakYak forum in a thread about fondly remembered old computer hardware. He seems to have a much better memory of our childhood than I do as I had completely forgotten about this wonderful toy we had one Christmas.

Videomaster Star Chess

My Dad loved gadgets and was a big chess fan and encouraged me and my brothers to play the game too, I was only ever slight better than competent at the game but was in the school chess club with a bunch of other nerds!

One Christmas we opened a present to be surprised by this futuristic electronic game. First released in 1979 (probably the year we got it) this was an amazing colour TV game called Videomaster Star Chess. It played a game of “Space age” chess for two players, it didn’t have a play against the computer option as that would have been far too complicated (expensive) back in those days.

The game was an interesting variation on Chess, obviously influenced by Star Trek (one piece looked like the Starship Enterprise) with options to move, warp, fire and pieces had shields with damage reports. From what I can remember the sound effects were pretty amazing. For a toy it was the design of the console which I remember the most. The faux brushed aluminium controllers, a Bang Olufsen inspired console, with lift up perspex lid. Even the instructions were amazing, held within a metallic clam case.

I am not sure what happened to it, I suspect it stopped working and being the budding engineer I was at the time it probably got dissected to find out how it all worked. (From memory I seem to remember that getting the controllers back into their ‘docking ports’ was fiddly as the cable had to be tightly wound and I think the strain caused the cable to wear and finally break where it joined the controller pad)

More technical information on the console can be found at the old-computers.com website