So the collection is coming along nicely, I will share an update as to what I have got and where I have got it paid in my next blog post – but I think it is time we talk about the elephant in the virtual room. Cables.
Cables and connectivity have always been a waking nightmare for me pretty much since I have had enough disposable income to afford more than one device to connect to my TV. Back in the good old days I would have my Amstrad CPC 6129 which connected to a monitor, and this monitor had a base than turned it into a TV. Albeit a TV that needed tuning between stations each time (I pretty much knew by heart how much to twist the tuning knob to find each of the 4 channels on offer at the time) and this TV only required 2 cables. The first was the non-negotiable power cable, the second was the trusty TV aerial cable which I also seemed to have problems with – the connector would come loose from the cable itself and then i would have to either jam, or cut back the cable to it fitted into the connector and could restore my window to the world of 4 channels.
Simpler times with the Amstrad TV Tuner base, credit Flickr
In the early 90’s the Amstrad got a significant upgrade when I was gifted the Sega Megadrive Mk1 (although I had no idea what model number this was at the time as it was the only one). Now, the trusty old TV base was still fully functional and would remain my primary TV for many more years. The upgrade was a very simple one when it came to connecting the new machine to the TV – it was just a switch for the Megadrive RF to go into, which also took the TV aerial and then with some behind the TV fumbling you could switch between the two inputs.
The MK-3088 RF Switch, a more elegant solution for a more civilized age
So this was the way of the world – you had your two devices and cable management was just this cheeky little switch. Was the video picture quality good? Did it output amazing sound? No and no, but did we care – absolutely not, it was all there was and it was perfect.
Then things started to go wrong, but not overnight. Later in the 90’s I scored an upgrade from my 14” Amstrad Monitor with optional TV base, to a 28” Bush TV (not widescreen, but at the time no one cared or really knew what widescreen was in commercial television. This thing was a beast, weighing more than a large dog. It just about fit into my gaming zone and with this came a new modern wonder, an input that was like a look into the future – the Scart cable. The scart cable was a better way of displaying the picture for my Playstation (one…) and gave the promise of better picture quality, so of course I upgraded. At the same time I was also lucky enough to have a VHS in my room, and this is where the problems began.
You see, with my new beast I had this magical connector, but sadly only one – and this one was right at the back, at the bottom of the device. This was a problem when you had two connectors that needed to be changed about. You see, the Scart connector was not small, you could probably easily fit 10 modern full size HDMI connectors into the footprint of a Scart – and it was a weird shape. So when trying to change the cables, without being able to see where you were plugging it, relying only on touch and a mental map – this was a challenge, even for someone that can memorise 5 channels (we got a 5th channel in 1997) on a manual tuner with pinpoint accuracy.
Aka: Syndicat des Constructeurs d’Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs, but you can call it Scart.
So then it began, first was the Scart switch, then there was the power splitter, as the years went on DVD players, additional consoles and then came network ports adding in more complexity to the tangled mess behind the Television set. Now, in a world of wireless networks, smart TV’s not needing an input for content and wireless phone charging – it just seems to get worse.
So, in case you didn’t get the intention – behind my TV is a mess, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. My world is now adaptors, splitters and half arsed attempts at neat cabling and cable management. So, when it came to plugging in my 32x to my games room OLED TV it would be simple enough – right?
Wrong. Very, very wrong.