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A Fascinating Blog Brings Back the Public Radio of the 1980s

Rob Walker
Tech Columnist
Yahoo Tech

From time to time on Yahoo Tech, The New Old Thing tells you about what’s not-new — but still great and available to you right now thanks to the magic of technology. Your tips are welcome; send to rwalkeryn@yahoo.com.

This Week: Liz Danzico, chair and co-founder of the School of Visual Arts’ Interaction Design program, recommends the NPR Archive Tumblr.

“I’m definitely partial here,” Danzico allows — and maybe that’s an understatement, given that she is also creative director for NPR in digital media.

But still, her pick is in fact an interesting blog, dedicated to mining the public radio network’s archives from three decades ago.

It points, for instance, to this story about shopping via computer — from 1984! Robert Krulwich (you may know him from the popular Radiolab podcast, among other things) actually does some computer-assisted shopping, way back in this period before running water, electricity, and Amazon.

Or there’s this report, about preserving deteriorating media forms — from cassettes to early digital audio. There’s a 1986 interview with (the recently parted) actress Shirley Temple Black, and a 1984 conversation with author Donald Barthelme.

And every so often the blog throws in some fun throwback visuals.

But really the highlights are about listening. If you like remembering (or discovering) what the quasi-distant past sounds like, check it out. You’ll like what you hear.

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