About this site
This archive is intended to be a free reference source of professionally shot pictures and contemporarary background information on everyday technology, especially home electronics, in the 20th Century. The project has initially been supported by a grant from the Shiers Trust, administered by the Royal Television Society (RTS). So priority has so far been given to topics with a TV and video slant.The site has been built from scratch by me, journalist and broadcaster Barry Fox, from a personal collection of tens of thousands of photos collected over forty years of journalism.
Until digital photography became the norm, companies routinely promoted their products and services by sending “physical” press releases and studio-produced photos to journalists and magazines. Instead of throwing the pictures away, I kept many of them, along with indexed articles written at the time.
Where else is this photo material stored?
Probably nowhere and certainly not in a one-stop reference database. The companies that provided the original photo material have often gone out of business, or been taken over. Their staff and PR agencies have changed many times over. Company offices now frequently have to refer requests for pre-digital images to an HQ in the Far East, and then wait weeks for action - often inaction.
Try asking companies for photos of discredited or ousted, executives - or flop products - and see how far you get!
I also have a large collection of 35mm slides shot while visiting factories, labs and exhibitions round the world. These too can be digitised.
Scanning and collating this material is hugely time-consuming and cannot be completed without industry interest and support. The first stage - which has resulted in the scanning and indexing of well over 2000 photos and graphics and building the current demo site - was kick-started by a Shiers Trust grant from the RTS. For this reason priority has so far been given to photos with a TV and video slant. What you see here is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many thousands of prints, transparencies and negatives remaining to be digitised.
The Timeline shows major technical developments, mainly through the 20th Century. Clicking an entry in the Timeline leads to a Picture Story with photos and information.
Note that not all the Timeline entries have Picture Story links yet, but more are being added regularly. The Home page has a New This Week flag.
If more support is forthcoming I can progressively process more images, on a broader range of topics, and put more on line. Apologies that the pictures are of deliberately compromised quality and heavily watermarked. Unfortunately this is necessary to prevent piracy. But the originals have been scanned, stored and indexed in full quality without visible watermarking, as a reference source.
See also the Copyright Note
If anyone wishes to comment constructively, feel free to Contact Us
About the author
Barry Fox started out with a degree in Botany but much more usefully trained in electronics in the Royal Air Force. He then worked as a patent agent, patenting inventors' ideas. From there he moved into journalism, writing and broadcasting first about hifi and patents and then progressively covering all areas of consumer electronics and computing technology. Patents remain a very useful tool for discovering what secretive companies are doing but won't talk about.
In the early years, while still also working in the patent profession, it was legally necessary to use the pen name Adrian Hope. So some old cross references may cite AH as author.
Winner of several UK Technology Press Awards Barry Fox was a regular contributor to New Scientist for over thirty years and remains European Contributing Editor for Consumer Electronics Daily, published by Warren Communications News, Inc.
Barry also still writes regularly for several UK specialist and trade magazines. He has remained independent by never, ever doing any paid consultancy work, advertising or advertorial puff writing.
The hat logo
Working under the pen name Adrian Hope, Barry wrote a book on curious and commercially unsuccessful inventions, Why Didn't I Think of it First?
One of the most curiously appealing and least commercially successful was A Saluting Device from Mr John Boyle of Spokane in 1896. Hidden mechanics inside a bowler hat automatically doffed and rotated the hat to offer "unique polite salutations" when the wearer bowed his head.
The spinning hat never caught on but, as patents never go out of print, you can still read the original hat pat.