Thursday, May 10, 2012

Analog was cool

 I was thinking a little bit about how old photographs have really decent image quality.  In fact other than the color issue they can pretty much have as much detail as typical modern photos.  Why?  Because analog technology works really well for capturing sound and images.  It's really a great hack that "just works" for a lot of things.  Think about photos.  It's taken us until basically the last decade to get digital cameras that are good enough.  Do you have any idea how much processing is going on inside a typical digital camera?  To match analog pictures you basically need megapixels worth of data.  We had to invent good compression algorithms, ccd sensors with high resolution and decent microprocessors to match a few mixed up chemicals soaked into some paper (or on glass).

Another thing to think about is sound.  Edison basically started with a piece of tinfoil and a needle.  The technology of analog sound is fairly trivial.  Extending it to electric analog is also fairly trivial. Saving that sound to something like tape is a bit more work but in the scheme of things is also trivial.  These are easy to bootstrap technologies that from a cost effectiveness standpoint blow away digital. Analog tech has huge bang for the buck.

Of course once you get your digital stuff bootstrapped to where we have it now we start to see enormous advantages over analog.  Perfect copies sent instantly anywhere in the world is a good start.   We can store enormous amounts of information in a small space now.  Imagine lugging around your record collection!  I knew people that had walls off tapes so they could have a large music collection.  Those are the people that now have terabytes of MP3's.  So some other advantages is that the cost of an individual piece of data is reduced to almost free.  Pictures used chemicals, paper and other real resources.  With digital you can take as many shots as you want and preview them right away.  Being able to transfer images to a computer is nice as well.  Backing up your photos online can save your family pictures from a disaster.  You can share your pictures with more people.  The list of advantages to digital is basically never ending.

So just think about and remember how far we've come with digital technology.  We've literally gone from Kilobytes to Megabytes to Gigabytes to Terrabytes and almost beyond in the last 30 years.  A modern chip is basically the complexity of a city shrunk down to the size of your finger nail.  My first PC had 4k of RAM.  Nowadays a typical PC has Gigabytes of RAM, multiple processors and a secondary GPU that may be pushing  teraflops of processing power.

I had the entire source code and all of the assets of the first game I worked on emailed to me a while back.  It was 19MB.  More on Radix later...

1 comment:

  1. Do not get me wrong but analog photography is still cool and will always be. I do have a number of Digital Cameras but lomography is one of those in things right now, I must say that it has and will always be underrated because of the era digital photography.