The year was 1992 and I had been saving for months. Finally, with a small parental cash infusion, I was able to purchase this:
The Logitech Fotoman, one of the first, consumer-grade, digital cameras in existence.
The specs on this bad boy are truly breathtaking
- 320x240 pixel images
- Internal memory allowing the storage of up to sixteen whole images
- Not 254, not 255, but 256 grays, allowing for rich black & white images worthy of Ansel Adams.
Combine the power of the above with the Aldus Digital Darkoom suite and you have the potential to create some stunning digital art.
Look at that! It looks like a pencil drawing. But I can't take all the credit. THE COMPUTER did most of the work.
And who cares if takes black & white pictures when you can ADD YOUR OWN COLORS.
OMG! You can type things RIGHT ON THE PICTURE. "Inner Child". That is some crazy-deep shit right there.
It was a pretty fast little bugger too. It would rise to the occasion, even in the face of the most weighty action shots. Oh to be a teenage boy with no car and access to a trampoline.
The process of colorizing a picture was pretty simple. You'd open up the file with Digital Darkroom, select an area of the picture, select a color, and click the Colorize button.
This ended up being a very resource-intensive operation for my computer and there was a 5-10 second period where the screen would dissolve into a pyschedelic soup worthy of the Merry Pranksters.
But the real fun didn't start until the day I realized that you could take a screen capture during this period of "purple haze" and save it as an image all its own.
I built up a pretty large collection of pictures over the course of high school and freshman year of college. And then, during a System 7.3 upgrade-gone-bad in college, I lost about 2/3s of them. To-date, one of the worst data disasters of my life.
I resolved to get some backups made of my remaining files (easier said than done). I had to call in a big favor with a friend who worked in the Lewis & Clark IT department in the end. I carried my Macintosh LC down to one of the IT labs where it was hooked up to an Iomega Jaz Drive. The files were transferred over to a Jaz disc, then copied to another computer where they were burned to a very expensive CD that I still have to this day.
I lost track of the CD when I switched over to Windows and couldn't read it anymore.
And then, a number of years ago during my first experimentations with Linux, I rediscovered that CD and that Red Hat was perfectly capable of mounting it. I've been carrying around those remaining pictures ever since, all of which are backed up in no fewer than 4 locations.
I still have the camera, languishing in a box in the unfinished part of my basement.
I've taken it out a couple of times and the battery is still charged. It lets out a merry little chirp when I press the single turquoise button, letting me know that it's captured another picture.
A picture trapped forever, wanting for a cable and a computer old enough to connect to.