Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Phonics Games & Other Classic Learning Games

When my daughter was about six, she walked over from the TV room to me and asked with a sly smile whether I knew how how much The Phonics Game was worth. I admitted that I did not.

Triumphantly, she said: "It's worth every penny!" and smiled, since she knew that it was -  somehow -very funny.  Imagine my joy when I checked out Ebay recently and sure enough, there was The Phonics Game for sale in "practically new condition."  I immediately bid high, knowing it was worth every penny.  Smile.

The Phonics Games


The phonics game contents
The Phonics Game included cassettes, many types
of cards, a timer, VHS tapes, and a mirror!


For those watching,  the 80s and 90s were a time of seemingly endless TV commercials for Hooked on Phonics and The Phonics Game, each with a 800 direct response message.  Aiming at the guilty-feeling of many mothers, especially the poor, these ads promised an increase in grades if they only bought them.  Hooked on Phonics was particularly aggressive until the FTC under the first Bush Administration cracked down on their non-verified claims and aggressive marketing techniques and took them out of business.

Spirograph was another educational toy popular in the 60s and 70s. It was really a simple matter of rotating some gears inside circles with a colored pencil tracing the pattern that that a hole in one of the gears made. It was addictive fun and we all learned patience and to make elaborate symmetrical designs. Educational?  I'm not sure but Hasbro had a huge hit on its hands with it so I bought one for our office as part of the ever-growing Retro Educational Technology collection.


Spirograph by Hasbro
Spirograph by Hasbro
The SEE and SPELL
The SEE and SPELL
A Precursor to VocabularySpellingCity
The Game of Cootie
The Game of Cootie
Cootie Game
Cootie Game


The HsngMouse for Hangman
HangMouse
The Famous Star on VocabularySpellingCity
who  his own hangman game
Here are a list of the classic interactive games featuring the HangMouse: HangMan Online, Sound It Out, Letterfall, Word Find, and  Read a Word





Sunday, December 4, 2016

Vintage Telephones in My Office and Home

In our office, a new (to us) sign for a telephone recently appeared:


If you follow the arrow, you arrive at this phone which sadly, is not currently connected to anything:

"New" Phone in our Office

I'm so pleased by this arrangement that I've just made a quick inventory of our vintage telephonic equipment.

I have this classic candlestick phone which is pictured sitting on top of my victrola (actually, it's in my house, not in the office, but I think that still counts are part of the RetroEdTech collection):

Classic Candlestick Phone
Classic Candlestick Phone

There's this odd Scandinavian phone which weighs about a ton and which I use to have connected to the phone system.  It's an old dial rotary phone with a very visible pair of bells. Over a decade ago, someone in my house clipped its wires (don't ask, it's an xwife story...). 



I have this nice 1960's dial rotary phones made for ATT by its subsidiary Western Electric. It has that nice mid Century modern look.  


 And lastly, and it's a bit of a non sequitur, here is a model of the first geosynchronous communications satellite to be placed in orbit.  What it has in common with the telephones is that it was part of the telecom communications revolution and its in my collection.  The plaque on the base says:

"SYNCOM
 The first synchronous orbit communications satellite. 
Built by the Hughes Aircraft Company 
for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 
Launched from Cape Canaveral, 9:33 am, July 26, 1963."


Syncom 1963 - Satellite
Syncom 1963 
The reason that I have and treasure such a thing is that Burton Edelson was my dad so I grew up on dinner time conversation about the march of technology and how it was changing communications and the world. We regularly discussed geosynchronous orbit at dinner. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't remember the exact altitude at which this is a stable orbit.  



 Burton Edelson Plaque on Syncom Model  Satellite
Syncom Model Plaque for Burton Edelson