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. 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.

  2. 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.

    RS-232C/RS-422

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.