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Advancements in technologies made obsolete before they were perfected IOTL

Archibald

Well-known member
Patreon supporter
#61
The Antonov A-40 is deeply disturbed by your implication that Russian aircraft design didn't reach peak beautiful insanity IOTL when they strapped wings to a tank.

And a biplane with that. To spoof Star Wars "the drag is strong, with this one"
 

RyanF

Wet January
Published by SLP
Location
Falkirk
#62
ROM cartridges for video games?

The switch to optical discs may have been motivated by the greater storage space they offered, along with how much cheaper they were to produce, but I can't help but feel advances might have been made further.

The main advantage of cartridges were the near instant access and quick load times compared with CD-ROMs. Perhaps if the Nintendo/Sony deal had gone through we might have seen a move to combination carrirdge/disc for a brief period.
 

Thande

Chemical Christian Chaos Chelator
Published by SLP
#63
ROM cartridges for video games?

The switch to optical discs may have been motivated by the greater storage space they offered, along with how much cheaper they were to produce, but I can't help but feel advances might have been made further.

The main advantage of cartridges were the near instant access and quick load times compared with CD-ROMs. Perhaps if the Nintendo/Sony deal had gone through we might have seen a move to combination carrirdge/disc for a brief period.
I mean, technically Nintendo have never really abandoned them - they obviously used discs for the Gamecube, Wii and Wii U, but now for the first time since the 90s they are only producing systems that use cartridges.
 

Archibald

Well-known member
Patreon supporter
#64
Pre-dreadnought, battlecruisers and armored cruisers - all of them impressive and powerful ships, yet hopelessly outclassed by technological progress.
 

RyanF

Wet January
Published by SLP
Location
Falkirk
#65
I mean, technically Nintendo have never really abandoned them - they obviously used discs for the Gamecube, Wii and Wii U, but now for the first time since the 90s they are only producing systems that use cartridges.
When I found out they had switched back it triggered a lot of soul searching on my part that is still largely unresolved.
 

Indicus

Active member
#67
Whats really the difference between a cartridge and a SD card?
SD cards are a specific type of memory cards, with standards regulating it. They are also easily rewritten.

A “cartridge” is a generic term for thingies that store data and may even be read-only (like with video game cartridges). SD cards are a type of cartridge.
 

Thande

Chemical Christian Chaos Chelator
Published by SLP
#68
SD cards are a specific type of memory cards, with standards regulating it. They are also easily rewritten.

A “cartridge” is a generic term for thingies that store data and may even be read-only (like with video game cartridges). SD cards are a type of cartridge.
Yeah, cartridge is a very vague term - it was even used for some kinds of cassettes and tapes at some times.

Of course when we're talking 8-bit and 16-bit era, those cartridges were really more like slotting one computer board into another.
 

RyanF

Wet January
Published by SLP
Location
Falkirk
#69
Yeah, cartridge is a very vague term - it was even used for some kinds of cassettes and tapes at some times.

Of course when we're talking 8-bit and 16-bit era, those cartridges were really more like slotting one computer board into another.
See now this, this is sexy.
 
#70
Nah, Khrushchev did more damage when he decided that future belonged to SAMs, ICBMs, and Sputniks.
Was he really wrong though? It might have meant the death of any number of interesting aircraft projects but on the ICBM front there's a strong argument for their being superior to nuclear bombers.
 

Lemon flavoured

Soft, squishy and mostly harmless
Location
Hucknall, Notts
#71
It's a point often made that longbows had a better range, penetration and rate of fire than the musket (or arquebus), but required so much strength and practice to use that that they were impractical for mass use. But without the advent of gunpowder there could be further longbow developments, making them out of lighter and more pliable materials, and then earlier invention of compound bows, would have the same democratising effect that gunpowder had.
I think eventually they would have been outstripped by crossbows if not gunpowder. Although that might be because I like the aesthetic of modern carbon fibre crossbows.

I also wonder if in a no gunpowder world you might get air weapons take off more and being made more powerful.
 

Stateless

Skinny, born in '87, therefore my username is -
#73
I think eventually they would have been outstripped by crossbows if not gunpowder. Although that might be because I like the aesthetic of modern carbon fibre crossbows.

I also wonder if in a no gunpowder world you might get air weapons take off more and being made more powerful.
I had discounted the crossbow for poor rate of fire, but now I think of it I'm fairly sure I have seen Adam Hart-Davis with a semi-automatic ballista, so one man versions of that and up to something like a machine gun with ammunition belts would be within reason.

While we're imagining a gunpowderless world, hail to the trebuchet.
 

Lemon flavoured

Soft, squishy and mostly harmless
Location
Hucknall, Notts
#74
I had discounted the crossbow for poor rate of fire, but now I think of it I'm fairly sure I have seen Adam Hart-Davis with a semi-automatic ballista, so one man versions of that and up to something like a machine gun with ammunition belts would be within reason.

While we're imagining a gunpowderless world, hail to the trebuchet.
There were repeating crossbows around in OTL too, although they lost some power in return for the higher rate of fire IIRC.
 

Archibald

Well-known member
Patreon supporter
#75
Was he really wrong though? It might have meant the death of any number of interesting aircraft projects but on the ICBM front there's a strong argument for their being superior to nuclear bombers.
Oh, there is no question about your point being right. An uncrewed, expendable, mach 25 rocket is far cheaper and far less vulnerable than any strategic bomber, and can be mass produced far more easily.
The problem with Sandys and Mister K. is that they went a little too far and convinced themselves that the future of warfare would be made, 100%, of missiles. example: the RCAF decision to go 100% BOMARC for its interceptor squadrons, before realizing that the BOMARC, even with a conventional warhead, could not escort lost aircrafts (like KAL-007, for example), only blast them from the sky. ;)

While Minuteman / Polaris were indeed a better bargain than B-70, BOMARC vs F-106 was far less convincing. The problem is that both Sandys and Mister K really butchered their aviation industry for the glory of SAMs or ICBMs or missiles as a whole.
 

Archibald

Well-known member
Patreon supporter
#76
You are making Stuart Slade cry.

Please, carry on.
ROTF, LMAO
Slade was deeply in love with the B-36, indeed. What he did not mentionned was that aircraft... was a dog. The big R-44360 were a maintenance nightmare, I think they had 144 sparks or even more. The jets were fuel-guzzlers and not very reliable either. More generally, such a giganormous aircraft had very extensive subsystems that were prone to failure (think vacuum tubes, all over the big machine).
Flying 1000 B-17s or B-24s raids was possible because these aircrafts remained quite simple.
Flying 250 B-29s was already far more trickier, as shown by Operation Matterhorn and ops against Japan.
flying Stuart Slade giant raids of B-36s would have been a reliability, maintenance, and logistics bleak nightmare.
The B-47 was not very good either, and things really improved with the B-52, as shown in Vietnam.
 
#77
You are making Stuart Slade cry. Please, carry on.
I'm guessing you don't mean the theatre chap but the author. Not sure if I'd never come across him before or simply repressed the memory but I didn't recognise the name. A quick scan of the list of his books on Amazon was already raising red flags due to the cover art and titles, clicking on one at random and seeing 'the Caliphate' being referred to in a modern setting as an expansionary power just confirmed things. Was he a member of the Other Place at some point?


The problem is that both Sandys and Mister K. really butchered their aviation industry for the glory of SAMs, or ICBMs, or missiles as a whole.
Even with the 1957 White Paper on Defence without going back to the books to refresh my memory were there really any major aerospace losses? The Operational Requirement F.155 interceptors, Saunders-Roe SR.53 and SR.177, Avro 730 etc. were all aircraft that would have been unnecessary or overtaken by technological advances if they had been developed to completion. This is going a bit off-topic so might be best discussed elsewhere.
 

Tovarich

a sinking dumpling. He/Him.
#78
I'm guessing you don't mean the theatre chap but the author. Not sure if I'd never come across him before or simply repressed the memory but I didn't recognise the name. A quick scan of the list of his books on Amazon was already raising red flags due to the cover art and titles, clicking on one at random and seeing 'the Caliphate' being referred to in a modern setting as an expansionary power just confirmed things. Was he a member of the Other Place at some point?
I don't think so, unless he kept himself very quiet indeed.

He has his own forum, but it's a Right wing echo-chamber to the point that it now cannot even be viewed except by invitation.
 

RyanF

Wet January
Published by SLP
Location
Falkirk
#79
I've discovered the world of retro technology reviews on YouTube, send help already I'm thinking £250 to assemble your own component HiFi seems very reasonable.

What's led my down this rabbit hole though was a recent obsession over the LaserDisc format, with a massive collection of DVDs I had often wondered from what I knew of LaserDisc, which during its lifetime had many of the features we would later enjoy on that format - better picture quality as compared with VHS, proper freeze frame and search functions, chapter selection, gorgeous casings like a vinyl record - it was a mystery why the format was doomed to obscurity in Europe and North America and a very niche market in Japan. I found my own understanding of why it failed (that it was unable to compete with the cheaper and recordable VHS), was only part of the story. Looking into this and a couple of other formats that were almost dead on arrival I see a lot of potential for these in an ATL right next door to us.

First up, LaserDisc was developed in the in the 1960s and 70s by Philips and after an initial demonstration in 1972 it was first made available in the United States just before Christmas 1978 under the name DiscoVision. Yes, DiscoVision, because it was 1978 you see and disco was going to be around forever. It was also made available initially only in the Atlanta, Georgia area; well-known in the late 1970s for it's large population of cinephiles and setting the trend that the rest of the US would follow. It was also a years after VHS (and two years after Betamax) had hit US shores. Video tapes had a universal, everyday use that appealed to many - allowing the recording of television programmes you might otherwise have missed (commonly known back then as timeshifting). As a Chich-listening, Carter-voting, movie-going young professional in Atlanta I presumably already have either a VHS or a Beta to record Georgia Championship Wrestling off WTCG; so what incentive is there for me to buy this LaserDisc DiscoVision thingy? I don't know, and apparently neither did those marketing the product. It was a solution in search of a problem. Philips produced the machines while the discs were produced by MCA, but the relationship quickly soured and was eventually discontinued, in 1980 though a majority stake was bought by Pioneer Electronics who would go on to perhaps be the gold-standard of LaserDisc players (including some combination LaserDisc/DVD players towards the end of the formats life).

As to the format itself, LaserDiscs were 30cm in diameter and played an analogue by reading a series of tiny indentations on the surface of the discs (these pits and lands are still in use on blu-rays and DVDs today); the format was entirely analogue though later designs had digital audio on the CD model. With no digital encoding or compression the images were encoded onto the disc on both sides in several methods based on the speed of disc rotation. The big discs made it impractical to break into the rental market where VHS had quickly grown dominant, one reason amongst many being that the plastic VHS case was a hardy soul that could take a beating and keep on playing; as anyone who was on the receiving end of a thrown one in their childhood can attest. It did find an appreciation amongst film enthusiasts who appreciated the quality of the image compared with tape formats. There was a compromise for this though, each side of a LaserDisc could only hold 30 minutes of footage on each side - so a two hour film would consist of two discs each of which would have to be flipped partway through (dual readers were later developed by Pioneer).

Is there any scope for the format to catch on? There were quite a few developments that might have made it more viable, but first it would have to get past the initial lacklustre release. Getting rid of the DiscoVision name might be a good beginning, but perhaps more importantly would be to give it some purpose distinct from home video that would make people want to buy it. At the time a VHS player would set you back for roughly the same price as a LaserDisc, and the discs themselves were actually cheaper than a video cassette - so cost might not be much of a decider. Still people would have so much options for recording television through video; where as I can only really watch films on the disc, albeit without the adv... oh, hello! Remember how quickly Americans adopted DVRs like TiVo when it was framed in terms of being able to skip adverts? LaserDisc could never supplant VHS (I'm not going to entertain the notion that Betamax might have won out that format war) due to the freedom the latter offered. I could have found a niche amongst fans of film as part of the earliest home cinemas, if it had only been marketed that way. The first title released was Jaws, only recently supplanted as the highest-grossing film of all time by George Lucas's Silly Space Movie, how much effort do you have to put into a campaign of 'watch films like Jaws at home'? The movie studios could probably have been brought on board; they were afeart enough of the possibilities of recording home video in terms of recording and re-recording films from television. As a non-recordable format this might actually help LaserDisc gain some backing and find a foothold. It later would become a format of home cinema enthusiasts in the US (The Criterion Collection started out on LaserDisc) in the 1980s OTL, but by that point VHS penetration was almost universal and without a firm foothold already it never made much of an impact in spite of some interesting developments and offerings right the way through to the late 1990s. In 1999 it was estimated there were LaserDisc players in 2% of American households, in Japan this was 10% in the same year. It would still be hard to break into the home rental market that really helped pre-recorded VHS become a thing in the 1980s, largely due to the fragility of the format. I've wondered though after discovering that two other disc formats of the same era - RCA's Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED, launched 1981) and JVC's Video High Density (VHD, launched 1983) - used a plastic caddy to protect the discs, and you inserted the full caddy into the player, which then removed the disc to play. Perhaps something like this might have helped LaserDisc find some rental market.

As mentioned, some later developments offer up some interesting possibilities. Sony apparently developed a digitally encoded version of LaserDisc, capable of storing data comparable in size to the later DVD-ROM. More interesting possibilities come from a progression of the laser itself from infrared to a red laser that could reach much clearer at a much narrower wavelength, allowing for HD home video... in 1991. This used Japan's MUSE system, the earliest form of HD television in the world. If a LaserDisc was able to get HD into homes using the same laser that made DVDs store so much information I wonder what might have been achieved had they still been making them when the violet laser that allowed blu-ray to read information at an even smaller wavelength than the red. Whilst none of this would have helped LaserDisc reach the heights that VHS or later DVD did, gaining a better foothold as the home cinema choice (perhaps if the rental market can be cracked becoming the format for pre-recorded film and television home viewing) would have allowed for better developments into the format perhaps encouraging an earlier push for high-definition in North America or even Europe. In all likelihood even if it achieved this it would still eventually be replaced by DVD or a HD compact disc eventually, but it might still have a few loyalists even to today.


From video to audio, Digital Audio Tape (DAT) was developed by Sony in the 1980s as a replacement for the analogue Philips Compact Cassette released in 1987. This is less of a case of a niche or past technology being made obsolete by the march of time or competitors and more a case of something being hobbled out of the gate for a perceived threat it posed to the powers that be. In doing this though these powers managed to create a much worse problem, but more on that a bit later.

The principal objectors to DAT were the Recording Industry Association of America, who had even lobbied to have them banned in the US before their release. A bill introduced in part by then Senator Al Gore on behalf of CBS Records mandated a copycode be present in DAT machines to detect when a copyrighted tape was being recorded, distorting the sound. The resulting chips ran into two problems: firstly, the distortion was audible even when it wasn't being pirated; second, it did not actually prevent the copying. This throwing the toys out of the pram meant that there was never much in the way of pre-recorded music released on the DAT format, especially compared with the existing formats of analogue cassettes and CDs. Eventually, a solution was reached, and the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 mandated a copy management system and also imposed a tax on DAT recorders and their media. The moment had passed, and with the added cost it was now very difficult to have DAT catch on in spite of it's quality. Oh, and what I said about this debacle creating a much worse problem for the recording industry? One industry that was able to get an exemption on the taxes of the 1992 act was the home computer industry. The rest, as they say, is a completed torrent download.

It's difficult to have DAT overcome this major hurdle, one market that did find a great use for it throughout the 1990s was the recording industry. Yes, in awe at the brass neck on these lads, the same bunch that killed the format turned it into their own catspaw because of the high quality it offered. Since they had a use for it, perhaps favourable terms from Sony providing the format to the music industry - couple with an effective and non-instrusive copy protection on pre-recorded media, might have allowed the DAT format to supplant analogue cassettes with its higher quality. The lack of the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 and it's exemption for mediums used on home computers would also have some very interesting butterflies.


Finally, in another audio/visual format, we have D-VHS. One of the last gasps of the ubiquitous VHS in the mid-00s, it was developed by JVC in conjunction with others as the digital progression of the analogue S-VHS. Like the LaserDisc HiVision of the 00s through it's pre-recorded releases (known as D-Theatre) it was offering US customers high definition home video in 2002; a full four years before the first blu-ray and HD-DVD players hit the shelves. Not that the latter two formats killed D-VHS; the format, or at least D-Theatre, was quietly discontinued in late 2004.

What killed it? Well, it was never truly alive is the honest answer. It never had even the very niche market LaserDisc maintained for most of its existence, nor was it hobbled by outside forces like DAT. Instead D-VHS perhaps came too late to an already changed marketplace. DVD was already king of the pre-recorded format, thanks in part to the PlayStation 2, and where was the incentive for people to pick up a VCR capable of playing and recording digital VHS or even watching HD films? Perhaps this format could have fallen back on the offering that allowed video cassettes a leg-up over other formats in the 1970s - the freedom to record from television. Unfortunately, it was around this time that Digital Video Recorders (DVR) like TiVo in the US and Sky+ in the UK were beginning to take off. Offering the same ability to record programmes but at the expense of not allowing the recordings to be archived or transported, an argument that might not make much headway.

Perhaps an earlier adoption of high definition television combined with a delay in DVRs taking off would allow D-VHS enough time for people to buy the VCR, after all those of us without Sky in the UK were still recording to VHS very late into the 00s and beyond in some cases (@Thande, of course), and getting the VCRs into homes combined with making the recordable D-VHSs might allow for enough of a market share to develop in the timeshift recording market. After all, DVD-R never truly caught on as a replacement for VHS, so it's easy to imagine (especially in the UK, where DVRs became ubiquitous much later than the US and nearly always tied to a video service) it remaining a viable technology to the present day - at least as a niche item. It's difficult to imagine D-Theatre remaining viable for a few years after the blu-ray/HDDVD war ended in favour of one format (maybe the one packaged in the latest iteration of a popular games console) or the other (the one Sony didn't have a hand in developing).


So, three formats that never really took off IOTL that might have in a close ATL to our own, or perhaps all of them amongst others. I do like the idea of the dominant disc formats being analogue and the magnetic tape formats being digital. If all these videos have taught me anything it's that Sony really felt jilted over the way Betamax was received and every action they have taken since then has been motivated by some Freudian desire to gain approval from the public by being the biggest game in town. Rumour has it the next generation games consoles will be announced this year, I suppose if they keep a physical medium we might see them try to do with Ultra HD Blu-rays on the PlayStation 5 what they did with DVDs on the PS2 and blu-rays on the PS3. If they keep a physical medium.
 

Juan Vogel

Sending coffins to healthy families
#80
Maybe do some reading on Japan's HDTV investment in the 1990s. I remember regularly reading about it/government investment and nothing seemed to make it big.