A Second Chance for Digitimer’s “Old Timers”
Experimental music & retro technology museums
Digitimer celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022 and after five decades of designing and manufacturing devices for clinical and medical research use, our products are now found in research laboratories and hospitals all over the world. Incredibly, some of our earliest instruments, designed in the 1970s and early 1980s, are still in routine laboratory use, which is a testament to their design and build quality.
Rather predictably, the vast majority of vintage Digitimer products eventually fall into disuse and are placed in storage or lie unused in equipment racks, as symbols of hard-won research grants awarded when their owners were starting out as independent researchers.
Many years later, these electronic relics generally end up in electronic waste skips following lab clearance or refurbishment. Fortunately, this is not the only outcome, as several examples of Digitimer products find their way onto popular online auction sites, discovering new and rather alternative roles.
So what happens to the Digitimer products in these auction listings? Sadly, many items will fail to sell and still end up in waste, but we have recently discovered that a second life can exist for some retired products, including some of our earliest programmable digital trigger generators. The Digitimer 4030 (pictured above) was one of the first products manufactured by Digitimer Ltd. It was developed from the Devices Ltd. range of Digitimers (Digital time interval marker and event release). It was this family of products that gave us our company name. As recently as 2021, the Digitimer D4030 was still being cited in scientific research papers published in peer-reviewed journals.
In September 2021 we were contacted by Hainbach, a composer from Germany who creates and performs experimental music using equipment that includes modular synthesisers, tape and electronic test equipment. Hainbach had acquired one of the first Digitimer manufactured Digitimer 4030’s and asked for our help, as he planned to get it up and running so it could be put to use as a music sequencer.
Six months later, we discovered that Hainbach isn’t alone in his enthusiasm for re-purposing old test equipment, as he recommended the Digitimer 4030 to a technology museum based in Ramsgate, here in the UK. Visitors to This Museum Is (Not) Obsolete not only have an opportunity to reminisce over obsolete scientific and musical technology but can even use the equipment in their on-site testing room.
Watch the video posted on their Youtube channel to find out more about how this Digitimer 4030 was acquired by the museum, what their plans are for it and how it might be used in electronic music production.