CRT to the CuRB

A vintage porn display device rests curbside, awaiting pickup by New York Sanitation.

A vintage porn display device rests curbside, awaiting pickup by New York Sanitation.

June 27, 2014

I remember having a monitor just like that. Mine was a 19" Sony Trinitron that, at the time around the year 2000, changed world by declaring it flat and not curved, like all the montitors were in those times. 

Seeing this poor thing on the curb makes me all misty-eyed. It conjures visions of that damp basement office space I had in Indiana, PA where that monitor sat on a banged-up desk. It reminds me of the frustrations I felt when 30 second porn clips took 30 minutes to download over dial-up and were never guaranteed to turn you on when they completed. 

My Trinitron cost $700 when I bought it. I spoke to a person over the phone to buy it from some mail-order shop. $700 the equivalent of almost three months rent at the time. I justified the cost because I thought having the monitor would be the foundation for a future advertising career. We take the technology, ubiquity and affordability of our flat-screens for granted these days. Flat screen 20 inch monitors go for less than $100 now.

Would digital photography have taken off as much as it has, in the high quality ways that it has, if we were still looking at warped and curved images on old CRT screens instead of our LCDs? We'd likely probably be way more tolerant of the physical limits of lenses on the curved screens, something that algorithms and presets take care of for us now. Barrel distortion and lens vignetting would seem more natural there, since the montiors warped images in the corners almost equally. We'd be more tolerant, I think, because these things would be nearly impossible to correctly correct on a non-flat screen. 

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