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A corollary to Clarke's Third Law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

"Any sufficiently outdated technology is indistinguishable from a paperweight."


Also, a device of some sort that is old enough to be considered "quaint," or "retro," especially if it has lots of gears or other moving parts. Difference engines, mechanical sewing machines, and the like.

SOT, in the circles I run in, also describes technology that is so old, it is no where in the same realm as current technology and has therefore reached the age of 'vintage'.

Whereas simply 'old' technology really isn't worth playing with, 'vintage' technology has progressed to the point where it is feasable to tweak, hack and otherwise work on it because it is now a collectors item.

Example: At the current time (mid-2001), a time when 2gHz processors are on the horizon, it would be considered stupid to try to put together a Pentium 133 back into showroom quality because, while it's old, it's not old enough. However, I would be considered totaly sane if I wanted to try to restore, say, a BBC Micro or a Kaypro to that state because they are sufficently outdated so there is no real chance of them ever becoming really viable again.

Sufficiently-outdated technology gathers a beauty and mystique about it as nothing else is able. It's an attraction similar to nature — as if it simply grew that way, all brass and leather and green plate glass — while maintaining that aura of human endeavour.

And somehow, it's specifically human in an age which has given us successively more-inhuman levels of technology: an age which prides the distinction, rather than union, of man and machine. Simply look at a car. Say a modern sports car of some stripe: a red 2005 Mustang would do as well as any. There's a simple and easy line between operator and apparatus: the operator controls the vehicle and the vehicle performs in a predictable fashion.

Now consider a chocolate-brown Ford Model A. Operator attuned the the ever-changing sound of his engine, the ever-fluctuating — now-easy, now-sluggish — movement of the wheel, the feel of the ground beneath him. The driver of a Model A still controls his vehicle, but he must, for lack of a better term, communicate with it in an ongoing relationship.

And of course, piloting an airship wearing brass Steampunk goggles is just fun.

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