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As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with machines. Cogs and gears and wheels and pistons and springs and pulleys. When I was young, I was obsessed with steam engines and since then, my tastes have always taken a bent toward the old fashioned. I was always the kid taking apart pens to see how they worked and then losing a piece and never being able to put them back together.

Now, I collect manual typewriters and own a working turntable. Their workings are beautiful in their complexity; the way the tiny pieces all work in unison. And while I love my laptop computer and my smartphone and the miracle of the .mp3 (I’m very much a child of the millennium), when I’m searching for inspiration, I return to my rusty relics.

Why? Why are these items — largely rendered obsolete by the fast march of technical progress — still so captivating? Maybe it’s the craftsmanship on display that catches my eye. Maybe it’s a lingering, childlike wonder about how things work. Maybe it’s their ability to outlast their modern counterparts.

I love living in the future, but I also like ties to the past. I don’t think that’s a contradiction. I don’t know why I am the way I am, but there’s nothing wrong with being a little nostalgic for a time before I lived and to think, now and again, about the machine age that we’ve left behind.

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a throwback writer living in Flagstaff, AZ. When he’s not absorbed in one of his peculiar antiques and envisioning a tech noir future, you can find him tweeting his thoughts: @jonnyeberle. Thanks for reading.

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