24 episodes

A podcast exploring alternative computing histories and their relationship to society. Hosted by Camila Galaz and Ana Meisel.

Our Friend the Computer Our Friend the Computer

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 4 Ratings

A podcast exploring alternative computing histories and their relationship to society. Hosted by Camila Galaz and Ana Meisel.

    i-mode and Japanese mobile internet (Mobile Phones)

    i-mode and Japanese mobile internet (Mobile Phones)

    Ana tells Camila about the flashing success of early Japanese smartphone tech. The girls discuss how the Japanese tech giants of the '90s and early '00s created exceedingly advanced and snazzy smartphone features and how such phones warranted the creation of the "second internet”. Circling the debate around Japan’s “economic miracle”, they talk about the politics and interrelation with the US that came after WW2.

    Join us over at Patreon for more tech chats! www.patreon.com/OurFriendtheComputer
    And follow us on Instagram @ourfriendthecomputer and Twitter @OurFriendComp 
    Main research was done by Ana.  Audio editing by Ana.
    Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages).
    Interstitial sounds from the Media Archaeology Lab.
    OFtC is a sister project of the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    References -
    World Top 20 Companies by Market Capitalization in 1989 and 2019: https://www.funalysis.net/economy-times-are-changing-world-top-20-companies-by-market-capitalization-in-1989-and-2019
    The rise & fall of Japanese phone giants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voyuy1rySX4
    The Origin and Spread of Mobile Phones: https://web-japan.org/kidsweb/hitech/mobile/mobile01.html
    You can send email from payphones in Japan?!? We try the technology trick that shocked the nation: https://soranews24.com/2019/10/31/you-can-send-email-from-payphones-in-japan-we-try-the-technology-trick-that-shocked-the-nation/
    NTT history: https://www.global.ntt/our-history.html
    Sharp's awesome-looking Aquos 912SH TV-phone: https://www.techdigest.tv/2007/05/sharps_awesomel.html

    • 40 min
    Fashion Phones and L'Amour (Mobile Phones)

    Fashion Phones and L'Amour (Mobile Phones)

    We’re back chatting about the early 2000s Nokia “Fashion Phones”! These phones preferenced a positioning of mobile phones as a fashion accessory, or fashion statement, over technological functionality. Following from the first two episodes of the season, Ana and Camila discuss gendered product design and marketing, aesthetic obsolescence, what “retro” really means, and why Nokia may have had an interest in creating these “experimental” designs in the first place.

    Join us over at Patreon!
    Follow us on Twitter @OurFriendComp And Instagram @ourfriendthecomputer
    Main research was done by Camila.  Audio editing by Ana.
    Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages).
    Interstitial sounds from the Media Archaeology Lab.
    OFtC is a sister project of the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    References:
    - Nokia “Distinctly Bold” Campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG1JDYUrBUM
    - Bramston, Dave, “Basics product design: Idea Searching”, 2008, Bloomsbury Academic
    - De Giovanni, Pietro, “Cases of Circular Economy in Practice”, 2022, IGI Global
    - Hjorth, Larissa, “Mobile media in the Asia Pacific : gender and the art of being mobile”, Routledge, 2009
    - Katz, James E.  and Sugiyama, Satomi, “Mobile Phones as Fashion Statements: The Co-creation of Mobile Communication’s Public Meaning”, 2005
    - Shade, Leslie Regan, “Feminizing the Mobile: Gender Scripting of Mobiles in North America”, Continuum, 21:2, 2007, pp. 179-189
    - https://www.mobilephonemuseum.com/phone-detail/nokia-7380
    - https://www.mobilephonemuseum.com/phone-detail/nokia-7280
    - https://www.theregister.com/2006/09/05/nokia_l_amour_collection/ 

    • 49 min
    The Real Housewives of Bell Telephone (Mobile Phones)

    The Real Housewives of Bell Telephone (Mobile Phones)

    Although telephones were instated into the home as a business communication tool, the women of the house soon appropriated the technology for “sociability” - checking in with family and friends, gossiping, chatting and connecting with the community. Ana and Camila aptly chit-chat about how this phenomenon became so pronounced over the years that it shaped the evolution of phones and outlined the ways in which we use phones now.

    Join us over at Patreon and follow us on Twitter @OurFriendComp And Instagram @ourfriendthecomputer
    Main research and audio editing was done by Ana. Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages)
    OFtC is a sister project of the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    References:
    Fisher, C. S. 1992. America calling: A social history of the telephone to 1940. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    Hanson, E. 1995. The telephone and its queerness. In Cruising the performative: Interventions into the representation of ethnicity, na­ tionality, and sexuality, edited by E. A. Case. Bloomington: Indi­ ana University Press.
    Moyal, A. 1992. The gendered use of the telephone: An Australian case study. Media, Culture, and Socieh J 14:51-72.
    O'Keefe, G., and Sulanowski, B.1995. More than just talk: Uses, gratifications, and the telephone. Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly 72(4):922-933.
    Rakow, L. 1992. Gender on the line: Women, the telephone, and community life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
    Arafeh, S. 2000. Chapter Five: Women, Telephones, and Subtle Solidarity: A Counternarrative. Counterpoints Journal. Peter Lang AG. https://www.jstor.org/stable/42976096?read-now=1&seq=26#page_scan_tab_contents
    Retrowow. 80s mobile phones. https://www.retrowow.co.uk/retro_collectibles/80s/mobile_phone.html#:~:text=The 8500X had an alphabetic,than the 8000X and 8000S.
    Sallyedelstein. 2015. The Telephone and the Housewife. Envisioning The American Dream https://envisioningtheamericandream.com/2015/12/22/the-telephone-and-the-housewife/

    • 42 min
    Nokia and the Mobira Cityman (Mobile Phones)

    Nokia and the Mobira Cityman (Mobile Phones)

    We’re back for season 3! Cell phones! Camila and Ana chat about the history of Nokia (the town and the company), the connection between car phones and mobile phones, and 80s naming conventions. They also discuss Gorbachev's famous phonecall on the Nokia-Mobira Cityman—a PR stunt that led to the phone being nicknamed the “Gorba” in Finland.
    Follow us on Twitter @OurFriendComp
    And Instagram @ourfriendthecomputer
    And Patreon!

    Main research for the episode was done by Camila. Ana does our editing.
    Big thanks to Darija Medic at the Media Archaeology Lab for recording and mixing our transition music this episode from archived Nokia phones!
    Intro/Outro music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages)

    OFtC is a sister project of the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  


    Research:
    - Arthur, Charles, “Nokia's chief executive to staff: 'we are standing on a burning platform'”, The Guardian, 9 Feb 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/blog/2011/feb/09/nokia-burning-platform-memo-elop
    - Laaksonen, Teemu, "Is this real?" said Mikhail Gorbachev with a Mobira Cityman mobile phone in his hand”, YLE,  6 Dec 2020, https://yle.fi/aihe/artikkeli/2020/12/06/onko-tama-todellista-sanoi-mihail-gorbatsov-suomalainen-kannykka-kadessaan
    - Lohr, Steve, “Risk Inherited at Finnish Concern”, The New York Times, 29 Dec 1988, https://www.nytimes.com/1988/12/29/business/risk-inherited-at-finnish-concern.html
    - Montes de Oca, Bernardo, “What Happened To Nokia And How It's Still Alive”, Slidebean, https://slidebean.com/story/what-happened-to-nokia
    - Vilpponen, Antti, “Nokia: Finland mourns the demise of its proud tech heritage”, The Guardian, 4 Sep 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/sep/04/nokia-finland-microsoft-startups
    - Wingfield, Nick, “Microsoft to Lay Off Thousands, Most From Nokia Unit”, The New York Times, 17 July 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/18/business/microsoft-to-cut-up-to-18000-jobs.html
    - “Microsoft, Nokia, and the burning platform: a final look at the failed Windows Phone alliance”, VentureBeat, https://venturebeat.com/mobile/microsoft-nokia-and-the-burning-platform-a-final-look-at-the-failed-windows-phone-alliance/
    - “Portfolio Expansion”, Nokia World, https://nokia-world.com/nokia-history/2/
    - “The Nokia Mobira Cityman”, Microsoft Windows Blog, April 2012, https://blogs.windows.com/devices/2012/04/16/back-to-the-1980s-the-legendary-nokia-mobira-cityman-25-yrs-on/
    - “Why do the names of Apple's products begin with ‘I’? Know the history of now-iconic letter”, The Economic Times, 24 Dec 2022, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/new-updates/why-do-the-names-of-apples-products-begin-with-i-know-the-history-of-now-iconic-letter/articleshow/96478120.cms?from=mdr 

    • 48 min
    Poly-1 New Zealand (Edu-Computers)

    Poly-1 New Zealand (Edu-Computers)

    The girls talk cricket before launching into the final episode of this Education Computers season! We're heading over to New Zealand and talking about the Poly-1. It's another homegrown micro computer destined for schools and funded by a government program, but this one was crushed by corporate (specifically... Apple) interference. Before its time (and 18 months before the BBC micro), we plot its rise and then its downfall which coincided with some pretty dark moments in recent history.
    Follow us on Twitter @OurFriendComp
    And Instagram @ourfriendthecomputer
    Main research for the episode was done by Camila. Ana audio edited.
    Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages)
    OFtC is a sister project of the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  
    Research:
    Poly Preservation Project: http://www.cs.otago.ac.nz/homepages/andrew/poly/Poly.htm
    https://collection.motat.nz/objects/22214/computer-poly1
    https://www.classic-computers.org.nz/collection/poly1.htm
    https://www.creationz.co.nz/kiwinuggets/2007/03/poly-1-educational-computer_07.html
    https://web.archive.org/web/20060424190744/http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3645342a28,00.html
    http://www.ourdigitalheritage.org/archive/playitagain/the-poly-computer-nzs-purpose-built-school-computer/
    https://twitter.com/PulpLibrarian/status/1644453795953246209
    http://www.cs.otago.ac.nz/homepages/andrew/papers/2010-5.pdf
    http://www.rutherfordjournal.org/article050106.html 

    • 47 min
    ICON Canada (Edu-Computers)

    ICON Canada (Edu-Computers)

    Camila and Ana chat about Canada’s first standardised and purpose-built computer for eduction, the Icon. Prior to launching in 1984, it made promises of a hypertext learning utopia where it simplified lives of both students and teachers. The girls kick off by exploring the definition of failure (after Camila had gone to see the Minitel at the Museum of Failure), and end by discussing the criticisms of top-down government projects that stumped potential hypertext projects.
    Follow us on Twitter @OurFriendComp
    And Instagram @ourfriendthecomputer

    Main research for the episode was done by Ana who also audio edited.
    Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages)

    OFtC is a sister project of the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  

    References:
    - Musuem of Failure, https://museumoffailure.com/
    - Wierzbicki, Barbara, “Icon: Canada’s system for schools”, InfoWorld, 7 Nov 1983, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0C8EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA33&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
    - UNISYS > Icon, www.old-computers.com, https://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=971
    - Eckert, Jason, “ Ontario’s Computer: The Burroughs ICON”, 3 Apr 2022, https://jasoneckert.github.io/myblog/icon-computer/

    • 56 min

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