Someday when you’re bored or feel like wasting some company time, check out this website: Richard Diehl (aka “Labguy”) started the site in 1997 to showcase vintage video production equipment. It’s a great source if you’re doing research or just have an interest in old technology. Getting this blast from the past is really fun—and it’s even inspiring, when you think about how easy video recording has become in just a few short years.
Diehl touts himself as “a veteran of the silicon valley boom years,” and his wealth of experience gives him the skills not only to describe, but also to operate and repair the antique equipment featured on the site. There you’ll find a complete catalog (with photos) of all the extinct cameras, video tape recorders, and editing equipment—anything used prior to the era of “home video” (i.e., VHS and Betamax). (For you youngsters out there, that translates loosely to anything made before the late 1970s.) Diehl himself is a collector of old equipment and everything he owns is featured in the virtual museum, which is updated all the time as he acquires new pieces.
He’s also got a section for documentation and articles about archaic equipment, and some video files demonstrating how to operate the stuff. There’s a collection of service manuals for sale and a FAQs spot for other aficionados. If Diehl finds a site with better information about a piece of equipment, he provides a link to it. He claims, “The information is far more important than my ego.” You can email him directly with specific questions, too. If he doesn’t have the answer, he’ll find it.
So if you pick up an old Portapak at a garage sale and want to know how to use it, check out Labguy; he’ll hook you up.