In 2018, The Strong embarked on a project to digitize floppy disks using a device called the Kryoflux to capture the data stored on 3.5- and 5.25-inch floppy disks. Reading a floppy disk in the 21st century was the first step necessary to preserve hundreds of floppy disks in The Strong’s archival collections. In some cases, the Kryoflux was a useful tool to capture old games and development materials but, with more than 1,500 floppy disk images in […]
Rubber has been used to play ball since the first Mesoamerican ball games of the Olmec people began around 3,000 years ago. The ball courts used for that game can be visited at Tulum, Ek Balam, and Coba in Mexico. The Olmec discovered that latex from a rubber tree could be mixed with juice from a species of morning glory to produce a useable rubber. The rubber was formed into hollow and solid balls for the ancient game, but very […]
It is rare that I have a chance to sit and enjoy Bob Ross in the middle of the day on the local public television network. When it is possible to catch an entire episode, it is fascinating to see how quickly Bob Ross adds layers to create a landscape painting of mountains, forest, or a coastline with a lighthouse. His style is distinctly different from other contemporary popular landscape painters like Thomas Kinkade. Bob Ross captivates people […]
As a cycling enthusiast, I was a thrill to see a velocipede—an early form of bicycle—in the conservation lab. Pierre Lallement and Pierre Michaux patented the design for the velocipede in 1866 before Lallement moved to New Haven, Connecticut, and made improvements to the velocipede on his own. He also gave license to American bike-builders for variations of the velocipede. These early wheelmen obsessed over different ways to power a bicycle—steam, electricity, or dog-powered locomotion.
Most velocipedes haven’t survived. They were […]
John and Harold Porter created their first chemistry set in 1915 after seeing the popularity of A. C. Gilbert’s Erector Set. In 1920, Gilbert made his Gilbert chemistry outfit, with the clear intention of encouraging boys to become chemists. In the 19th century, chemistry sets were practical kits made for school use. Savvy teachers have known for years that chemistry classes become memorable when a molecule is put in context. For instance, sodium thiosulfate solution can be used to clean […]
I grew up in a family of makers before the Maker Faire existed. My grandmothers could knit, sew, make jewelry, or hand hook a rug. They were the early generation of makers who would “use it up, wear it out, make it do” in order to make things last. My parents knew about organic gardening, fine tailoring, hand painting folk art whirligigs, and repairing furniture. Our house was filled with craft projects and lots of creativity. Parties with […]
When The Strong museum recently acquired a Shirley Temple doll from the 1930s, it went to the museum’s doll conservator Darlene Gengelbach for treatment. These dolls have sleep eyes that open and close with metal rockers. The rocker is a spindle attached to the inside of the doll’s head with a small weight attached to a metal plate. Each painted metal eye has a celluloid pupil and iris.
More significantly, the celluloid centers of Shirley Temple’s eyes appeared “crazed,” a term […]
I’ve admired The Strong’s vintage Drive-Mobile arcade game since the first time I stood in front of it with Martin Reinhardt, the museum’s arcade game conservation technician. It was exciting to see how the first arcade driving game—a popular and enduring genre—actually worked. Martin opened the back of the game for me and demonstrated the mutoscope drum design in action. Early mutoscope machines contained a revolving flipbook on a spindle to create the illusion of a moving image when a […]