Archive for the ‘computers’ tag
Here's a vacant little Leesburg Plaza storefront. It's not too clear initially what it was:
So let's take that sign and equalize it:
And then flip it:
OK then -- based on phonebooks, it looks like Shell PC & Networking Solutions probably closed shop in 2010.
I would never go back to one, but there is something magical about a typewriter: the rhythm of the keys, the ding of the bell, the tactile sensation of the platten ratchet advancing while you slap the carriage back over.. Even the smell of one is distinctive, a unique combination of metal, stale air, oil and ink. And for something ubiquitous so recently there are few other things (the phonograph is one..) that illustrate the generational divide so clearly. Set a high school student in front of a typewriter today, and you might as well have supplied a blank cuneiform tablet and chisels.
The Typewriter Exchange had been on Two Notch for as long as I can remember, probably going back into the '60s. I often wondered in recent years how they continued on, but a look through their window suggested they had moved into computer repair as typewriters became paperweights. Although the building had been up for sale since at least 2010, the business continued until recently, but last time I drove by, I noticed the place is now a church.
UPDATE 29 April 2014 -- Here is the place today as Fruit Of The Spirit Love Ministry:
Chipco specializes in building a wide variety of desktop computers for just about any application.
Columbia has had more tech companies than you might expect, back at least to the days when NCR was building innovative systems in West Columbia. Still, I was unaware of this distributor, nestled with a cheerleading academy in a business park off of Farrow Road. I'm not sure exactly when they closed, but given that it was just in Have Your Say and that we recently turned a month over, I suspect it was the end of March.
(Hat tip to commenter Joe)
Once upon a time, computers were magical devices, "Electronic Brains", spoken of with tinges of awe and fear. See for instance the classic Hepburn / Tracy movie Desk Set. Nobody, in their day-to-day lives would expect to see a computer, and few people had any idea what they actually looked like. Everybody was sure, however, that they involved lots of blinking lights (and tape drives moving forever back and forth).
That first actually wasn't far from the truth. Early computers did have many lights, often signifying bits in various registers and program counters. They also had toggle switches (like the much missed computer in the old Columbia Science Museum) for setting all those bits.
The illuminated front panels of early computers loomed large enough in techie culture that you often found variations of the following sign posted in a computer room:
ALLES TURISTEN UND NONTEKNISCHEN LOOKENPEEPERS!
DAS KOMPUTERMASCHINE IST NICHT FÜR DER GEFINGERPOKEN UND MITTENGRABEN!
ODERWISE IST EASY TO SCHNAPPEN DER SPRINGENWERK, BLOWENFUSEN UND POPPENCORKEN MIT SPITZENSPARKSEN.
IST NICHT FÜR GEWERKEN BEI DUMMKOPFEN. DER RUBBERNECKEN SIGHTSEEREN KEEPEN DAS COTTONPICKEN HÄNDER IN DAS POCKETS MUSS.
ZO RELAXEN UND WATSCHEN DER BLINKENLICHTEN.
and the portmanteau word blinkenlights permanently entered the hacker lexicon.
So people were interested, a bit awed and a bit scared by the idea of computers, and had only a very general idea of what they could do and how they looked. Thus: The TELEVAC 86000.
This amiable faux computer has been making the rounds for as long as I can remember, which is to say, at least since 1965 or so, and probably prior to that. Every year, it would set up shop in the Steel Building or the Ruff Building and dazzle the passers by. How could you possibly doubt a handwriting analysis from the TELEVAC 86000? IT'S A COMPUTER! IT'S SCIENCE! IT HAS BLINKING LIGHTS!
While we never did spring for the analysis when my parents took us to the fair back in the day, I have the feeling that at the time, this wonder of technology dispensed pre-printed cards dissecting your penmanship -- certainly there were no portable printers available for such a travelling roadshow.
As the years went on, the TELEVAC did add a printer, and astrological predictions as well as handwriting analysis, but the basic blinkenlights front panel stayed fundamentally unaltered, even through the name change to the less antique sounding CENTAURI-68000.
By the time I actually dropped $3.00 in 2012, the whole concept was not too credible. Whereas in 1965, nobody had seen a computer, much less had a computer, and the blinkenlights represented (to this 5 year old anyway) the apex of science, by 2012 most everybody (including lots of the 5 year olds) had a computer, and everybody knew what one looked like.
Sad to say, the TELEVAC / CENTAURI did not make an appearance at the 2013 State Fair, and I'm afraid it is the end of an era.
I've noticed Maunz Electronics off and on over the years as I drove down Sunset. The building has some nice retro touches (which may have been current when it was built), and it would catch my eye, as would the strong blue of the roadside sign.
The notices on the door list 12 October 2012 as the last day here, with the nice touch of referring people to another local business for future work.
(Hat tip to commenter MB)
Well, that didn't last too long. On the other hand, I suppose it wasn't intended to since similar exhibitions zip in and out of Jamil Temple fairly often. (Not to mention temporary stores like Giant Book Sale in other unused Harbison storefronts).
Anyway, this liquidation center went into the old Office Depot location across from the Harbison Barnes & Noble a month or so ago, and offered bargins on fashion and electronics. I've gotten some good deals on computer equipment at the Jamil sales, but the trick is to remember that you only go if you actually think you'll buy something, as there is a $5.00 fee just to walk in the door. In this instance, there was nothing much I needed, so I never did.
I see from a sign that the building is still available for short-term leases, so perhaps the lidiquation company (apparently out of Ohio) will lease it again sometime.
Now computer store PC Corner (which was *not* in a corner spot.. ) has joined them, and fairly recently I think, as it was listed in this year's (February 2012) phonebook.
UPDATE 13 May 2012 -- Commenter Terry sends in this 1994 receipt for a top-of-the-line PC Corner system. Hey Terry, I think you can let that receipt go now -- I'm pretty sure the warranty has expired!
Get U Out Bail Bonding / Cdn Communications / iTecRepair, 1208 C Avenue: Early 2012 (etc) no comments
This little building sits on C Avenue in Triangle City just west of the Charleston Highway, and has apparently most recently been a cellphone, game console and computer repair operation called iTecRepair. I believe this was the last tenant, as they booked an oline ad as recently as 30 January 2012.
I am unsure if Cdn Communications was a totally different operation, or just a different DBA name for iTecRepair.
Before the newfangled stuff, the place was one of those urban staples, a bail bonding office called Get U Out Bail Bonding (some google hits give it as Get U Out Fast, but I think that was just their slogan, as pictured in this real estate listing).
There's an interesting little history of CompuZone at their web site. I did not know this, but the store started here in Columbia as The PC Store in 1992, though they eventually ended up with more stores in the Charleston area than here. As far as I know those other stores are still open.
I don't believe I ever shopped at this store though I certainly have bought my share of computer parts. I was living out of town for a good part of the time it was open, and when I got back to town, there was a Best Buy much closer to me. Their site does show some nice looking SATA drives -- eventually I will upgrade and have me some terabytes on this table..
The place has been thoroughly gutted in advance of the next operation, BatteriesPlus moving in. Their sign says they will have lightbulbs as well -- I wonder if they will import some 100W ones (though I stocked up on a enough to last me a good long time!)?
(Hat tip to commenter Badger)
G-E-X Membership Department Store / Intertec Data Systems / Home Gold Financial / Phar-Mor / Home Quarters Warehouse / Blue Cross Blue Shield / Palmetto GBH, 2340 Broad River Road: 1973 38 comments
I never heard G-E-X pronounced Gee-Eee-Eks as the spelling here would imply. It was always just "Gex" to rhyme with "Vex". Not that I heard about it that often. Given the 21 Dec 1969 phonebook listing (ie: for 1970) above, it sounds like it was a Costco or Sam's before its time -- certainly we did not have a membership, and I never went with anyone who did. (There are some pictures of the membership cards here.)
The building (behind Applebee's just North of I-20) is certainly massive, and it seems to have had a department for everything, including groceries and meat, which really makes it sound ahead of its time. Wikipedia says G-E-X was another label for G.E.M the Government Employees Mart and that the electronics department eventually morphed into Circuit City by way of Ward's. The December 1972 phonebook is the last one to list the Columbia G-E-X which meshes with Wikipedia's claim that the chain went under "during the discount store shakeout of 1973".
After G-E-X the spot seems to have been a number of different operations including Home Quarters and Blue Cross. In fact, LoopNet says Blue Cross has a lease on the whole building that lasts until September 2012. Currently the building seems to be empty, with the last branding on the street sign as Palmetto GBH which seems to be some sort of Medicare related operation (their sign is still on the storefront in the LoopNet listing).
UPDATE 21 March 2011: Added "Intertec Data Systems" & "Phar-Mor" to the post title. Those apparently closed in the early 1980s and 3 October 1992 respectively. (Also fixed spelling of Applebee's..)
UPDATE 6 April 2011: Added the 1970 Bellsouth Yellow Pages ad for the pharmacy department (which apparently was open to the general public).