This weeks column in PC Magazine is about dead media and dead devices. Here are two cameras Ifound in the closet which I’d like to play with but neither can be used because of proprietary formats and weird data transfer cables that are lost.

The fascinating Agfa 1680 which took a remarkable picture. The Smart media card has a proprietary format I have not been able to crack (yet).

The Olympus D-300L. A camera with Internal memory only. Bad idea. And here’s why:

Lose this weird cable and the camera is useless. And even if you have the cable will the data transfer on XP or Vista?

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  1. Seun Osewa says:

    How can we convince technology buyers to boycott products that are designed with proprietary standards that are unlikely to last beyond a few product generations?

  2. Anthony bucci says:

    I might be mistaken but if my history is correct, the original “Ralph Nader’ – a writer from the 50′s by the name of Vance Packard – coined the phrase “planned obsolescence.”
    It ‘s all about money, of course, and we keep feeding the habit.
    Standards would be financially counter -productive. And the bottom line must be met.

  3. Dick Anderson says:

    I still have my Olympus D300-L. It works fine with XP and yes, it does have a LCD viewer.

  4. Ron Laisle says:

    I am and will continue to lmao at all the geeks who think the latest 20 megapixel camera is the greatest thing since Cain slew Abel.I will be dust(along with all the digital crap out there today) for a long time before anyone invents a better way of taking pictures than we have with good ol’ 35mm film.The warmth,color,and feeling you get from film is just unbeatable.Same thing with my old fashioned “tube type” stereo amp.Digital whatever will never come close to the sound quality of them stodgy old vaccumn tubes.

  5. BoolaBoola says:

    Not to be nitpicky, but Ampex was not the first to produce a video recorder. Actually, the first device for recording television broadcasts off the air was produced much earlier than this. And it was not invented in the U.S.
    And there in lies the story of one of the great examples of dead media. It is so dead that few people are aware it ever existed.
    It was made for use at home for recording television broadcasts. There was apparently one slight problem. The inventor hadn’t quite perfected a system for playing back the recordings.
    However, amateur and professional historians are doing this these days.

  6. Mike says:

    I backed up tons of data onto SyQuest removable disk cartridges back in the 90s, this before Zip disks and R/W CDs were widely available. Now, the poorly designed and manufactured drives have all failed, the company is long out of business, and only occasionally does one in reasonable condition show up on EBay. I still have the disks, forlorn and unreadable.

  7. I have a big box of cables, connectors, computer parts, transformers and a hand held scanner that only worked marginally well when it worked and I expect to follow your lead and donate them to a museum someday. As for my two-year-old digital camera a Fujifilm s3000, the cable on it conked out six months ago and I switched to a card reader. Please tell me that all these JPGs will be readable 10 and 20 years from now on my CD, please, please, please!

  8. Mark Stokols says:

    I may have the cable (Olypus D-200L), if you really need one let me know and I’ll dig through MY archive (aka closet).

  9. Scott Warner says:

    John I have a cable to the 1280 – i supect they are the same …. I will gladly end it to you if you want … no charge …. drop me a line and perhaps I may be of assisstance !!! cheeers and keep up the great work !!

  10. rachel says:

    my dad owns an Olympus D-300L and is planning to take it to the philippines in the morning. the only problem is that the memory is practically full and i can’t download the pictures from my wedding off of it. maybe the program was erased or something, but its frustrating and we’re on a time crunch. can anyone help and tell me what to do or download before 3am today??? thankyou soo much!

  11. Greg says:

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but why can’t you use the Agfa 1680? I bought a nice used one off of Ebay a few years ago, but it was missing the serial cable. So you just pull the Smart Card out and stick it in a card reader. Works great. Better in fact than the serial cable, as I have used a friend’s Agfa 1280, and downloading through the serial port is s-l-o-w.

  12. Tan Wei Leong says:

    that looks like a standard DIN-8 serial cable. Macs use it, but so did some Suns etc; basically electrically there’s IIRC no difference with the DB9/25 serial ports standard on PCs, just the pin placement/wiring.


  13. jbalaz says:

    The problems with video tapes (and a lot of audio tapes as well) is the binders that they used to secure the oxides to the backing. Somewhere in the 60′s they switched to binders that break down in a fairly short period of time, leaving you with nothing but rusty dust. Some of these tapes can be saved by baking them before trying to play them (don’t try this at home kids), but many are beyond help.
    Consider that most of the older digitalmagnetic media is going to suffer the same fate, so the standard it was recorded in is probably irrelevant.

  14. Taufik says:

    I certainly doubt about long life of flash media. even today there are so many type that incompatible each other. we should forgetting this stuff and focusing all in just 1 more robust. NAND Flash is going there, i see. and Hard drive still life longer.

  15. Joe McElroy says:

    I have an Olympus D300l and love (ed) it. For $999 today as with any tech gadget you can buy mucho much more for your money. My son was using it and while i have the cable, i coudn’t get it to download with XP. Any tips from the poster who said it works with XP?

  16. TheMartian says:

    I have both the Agfa ePhoto 1280 and 1680 camera versions; both work perfectly, but I’ve had terrible problems formatting spare cards to use with them. So far, I’ve four cards for the 1280, and the 32mb which came with the 1680 I had to hack to fix it so that it would work. The eBay site demo’d it working, which it did, but nothing could be read from the card on my several standard Windows or Linux PCs. I worked out a hack to fix the card, but the hack doesn’t seem to work on the spare 8mb card which I bought to supplement it. The camera shouldn’t use a 32mb card anyway; I’m beginning to wonder if a factory mod has been done on it, or some hardware geek has been to work on it.

    I’m going to try making a partition image from the 32mb card and applying it to any future 32mb card which refuses to work properly.