Ten years ago this week I got my first digital camera: a Canon A70. I’d held on until the price seemed right and they did a half-decent job of video recording (as my old Video-8 video camera had given up the ghost a couple of years before).
I assume I only started with a fairly small memory card, as it looks like I deleted my first ever digital picture — and the second (what we now know as a “selfie“) was at low (640×480, or about a third of a megapixel) resolution.
The second batch of photos that I still have are from a party from then-flatmates Josh and Catherine’s place in St Kilda. Or was it Elwood? At some point I let Josh play with the camera, and he took a bunch of photos of people I don’t know, and don’t recognise.
Some better/more interesting photos from later on in April (when I’d got a memory card and started using the camera’s full mighty THREE megapixels) include these from an expedition around Melbourne with my friend Danielle when she visited from Sydney:
The Espy — back before tall buildings loomed over it
When we lived in Pine Avenue, Elwood in the early 80s, the local milkbar on Ormond Road had a Donkey Kong Junior machine, for instance.
But a short bus ride away in St Kilda was video game heaven. For starters, Luna Park (which in Melbourne was and is free to enter; unlike Sydney, you only pay for the rides), had a shed full of video games next to the Ghost Train.
In there I remember pumping my 20 cent coins into machines playing Donkey Kong, Popeye, Frogger, Elevator Action and Space Invaders. The latter was black and white, but with a colour overlay to give it a multi-coloured background.
A short walk down Carlisle Street was a laundromat with a Moon Patrol machine. The laundromat is still there, but these days shares the premises with solarium. Sign of the times?
Moon Patrol in the laundromat was great fun, for two reasons: firstly the machine was not in great demand, so there was rarely a queue. (The etiquette in those days was that if you wanted to play the machine next, you’d put your 20 cent coin on it; there was usually a spot where the screen met the console where a coin could be placed and it wouldn’t roll away.)
Secondly, it was one of the earliest games which would allow you to continue playing after losing all your lives, by putting in another coin. While I wasn’t the world’s best Moon Patrol player by any means, this meant that for 40-60 cents I could play right through the course (which went from A to Z), whereupon it would go back to the start, but with extra difficulty. Great fun.
Further down Carlisle Street, at the corner of Barkly Street, was a takeaway place with a Galaga machine. The takeaway place (or its descendant) still appears to be on the same corner. On my trip home from school in year 7 and 8, I’d often change from the tram to the bus at this spot, and play Galaga while I waited.
Other highlights around that part of St Kilda for a teenage geek included the computer shop on Barkly Street between which sold clone disk drives for the Commodore 64 (the Skai 64 drive, which I had, but which seems to have virtually faded into obscurity) and the two local newsagents on Acland Street, which sold all my favourite imported computer magazines, such as Commodore User, Compute’s Gazzette, Zzap 64! and later (when I switched allegiences from the Commodore 64 to a BBC Micro) Acorn User and The Micro User. Later when these publications got less mainstream, I ended up having to go into McGills (also now defunct) in the city to get them.
Further afield were Timezone in the City (apparently there are still a few of these around) and of course the Fun Factory in South Yarra (likely to be redeveloped in the not-too-distant future), where I sometimes played after school once I’d gone to Melbourne High… not to mention that one year rollerskating (also at the Fun Factory) was offered as a sport. I recall they had Joust, Gauntlet (great with four players), Gyruss and Dragon’s Lair (never my favourite).
There was also a place in Balaclava next to the railway bridge which, I recall, was called Sam’s Amusements. Mostly pool tables I think. They may well have had arcade games in there, but it looked way too scary, and I never went in there.
You may have worked out by now that I’m enormously nostalgic for the video games of this period. As it turns out, there’s a place in South Melbourne that sells multi-game versions of the old arcade games, in pretty authentic-looking cabinets, and there are others around Australia where you can buy them from about $1200 upwards. One day, maybe.
In the mean time, there’s always MAME.
On my day off yesterday we sauntered down to Jaycar in Cheltenham for electronic gadget goodness. I noticed looking at the map beforehand that a bunch of the streets are named after newspapers: Argus St, Herald St, Age St, Times St. No Sun St that I could see.
There are plenty of clusters of street names about the place. Some of the others that spring to mind include:
Murrumbeena has streets named after Australian cities — Brisbane St, Perth St, Adelaide St, Sydney St, Melbourne St, Hobart Rd.
Elwood/St Kilda — lots of writers and poets: Tennyson St, Dickens St, Milton St, Chaucer St, Wordsworth St, Shakespeare Gv, Shelley St, Byron St, Mitford St, Southey St… and of course Poets Gv. There’s probably a few others around there that more cultured persons than me might recognise, too.
Elwood near the beach: Spray St, Tide St, Beach Av, Wave St, Foam St. Maybe Docker St as well?
Caulfield South, around the area once called Camden Town, formerly occupied by a camp site for timber workers — Olive St, Poplar St, Birch St, Cedar St, Sycamore St, Larch St, Almond St, Teak St, Beech St, Maple St. Would Jasmine and Filbert count too?
Perhaps this sort of thing saved time when large numbers of streets had to be named, and it might save agonising over who in a local community should get a street named after them and who shouldn’t.
Thankfully most of them are more imaginative than what they ended up with in Parkdale: First St, Second St, Third St, Fourth St, Fifth St, Sixth St, Seventh St, Eighth St. Then they threw caution into the wind and made the last couple in the group Bethell Av and Stewart Av.