The World-Wide Virtual Radio Gallery
The following essay was written shortly after I launched
this website in 1995. The Web was vastly smaller
then. Online commerce didn't really exist, and Web
phenomena such as Amazon, Google, and eBay were still in
Some of the things that I predicted in 1995—such as a
globally-searchable Web database—may have seemed
farfetched or over-optimistic. But the Web has
surprised us all. My website grew to include hundreds of
articles and thousands of images. Many other collectors took
up my challenge to create radio websites of their own.
And so it goes.
In any event, here is the original essay,
just as written twenty years ago.
At some point after building this online gallery, I realized
that it presents a reality which never has existed in the
physical world, and which probably never will. And that led
to an exciting idea, which I'll get to in a minute.
But first, what's really different about this way of presenting
Would The Real Collection Please Stand Up?
In the digital world you're viewing right now, every radio in my collection is
always on display, shined up, beautifully lit, and nicely indexed.
But in the physical world, these objects have never even been in
one physical location, much less organized. Some live at home,
others in my office. Some are scattered on shelves all over
the house. Others live in boxes or cupboards. And they all trudge
in and out of my workshop for various treatments over time. Before
creating the website, I didn't even know how many there were.
I honestly thought I had "about forty" radios, while the true
number was over ninety!
Nobody in the world—including myself—has ever seen my
entire physical collection in one place, and I would never bother to
arrange such a display. What for?
Nobody would trek to my little burb in Washington state just to
look at a few old radios.
But lots of folks will click a hotlink. Since opening this gallery
in August, 1995, I've gotten dozens of email messages from
visitors from around the world—from Japan, Australia and
Europe, as well as North America—including some fellow collectors
who plan to put their collections online.
A Global Museum Is Evolving
It doesn't take much imagination to see what's evolving—a global "virtual gallery" that's far more than the sum of its parts.
And this isn't a wild dream of the future. It's already happening.
When I launched this website, there was
only one similar site in the world. A handful of
new collections have appeared since then.
In the last few months, the WWW virtual gallery of radios has grown
from a few dozen to a few hundred items. By this time next year, it could
comprise thousands of radios on display, from sites all over the planet.
Nobody (least of all, me) can control or own this thing,
a factor which makes it incredibly exciting.
What's different about this new global museum? First, it's free, and freely
accessible to anyone, any time, from any place where your computer
can make a phone connection. Second, compared to physical museums or
publications, it's incredibly dynamic. The global museum can change
daily—even hourly—as new collections and connections come online. And
finally, it's totally egalitarian. No matter if you're young or old, or
whatever you may look like, whether you have one treasure
or one thousand to display—the enjoyment and education you
can provide to others is equally valid.
What's coming next? Beyond simple pictures, how about making your website
a database of radio information, searchable by maker, model number, date of
manufacture, and similar keys? That's possible on a per-site basis with
today's tools. And, given the rapid pace of WWW development, we may
soon have ways to search across multiple websites.
A globally-searchable information database would be an enormous benefit to
collectors everywhere. Today's technology also offers ways for new sites to
automatically add themselves as new links from an existing site. Extend
that idea, and the vision unfolds of a new, organic, global entity that can
flower in amazing, unpredictable ways.
Some folks find this kind of idea scary, but I find it beautiful. Remember,
the "it" we're talking about is simply us. The global museum is just
plain old folks—you and me—communicating and sharing in a new
way. If you think communicating with other people is scary . . . well,
maybe you need to get out more often!
The WWW Radio Collector's Manifesto
So, fellow radio lovers, this is my challenge to you. Don't hide your
treasures under a bushel—join the party and share them with the world!
simpler than you might think. See How I Built This Website for
some basic tips. There are hundreds of websites with
detailed info on how to build web pages. Here's one to get you started:
Yahoo WWW Page.
If you're interested in this idea, or you're already working on a
website of your own, I'd like to hear from you.
Click the mike to share your thoughts in email.