Friday, December 19, 2014

My oldest computer device


I’ve been spending a lot of time this week scanning photographic negatives from a wedding I shot back in 2001.

And at some point yesterday it struck me that at 13 years, my Nikon Coolscan IV transparency scanner is the oldest piece of computer equipment I have that is still in service.

It cost about $600 when it was introduced in 2001. That’s about $800 in today’s money. I was surprised to see several of them offered on Ebay for what I consider are very low prices, considering how well they work.

( shows one retailer with a new-in-the-box Coolscan IV for an outrageous $1,499.99.)

The only thing wrong with the Coolscan IV was the Nikon Scan software that came with it. Nikon makes superb optical products, but their scanning software was clunky, slow and rather limited – in short, a huge disappointment.

I only know how bad it was in retrospect because Nikon did us Coolscan IV users a big favor five years ago when they chose not to write a 64-bit driver for the scanner to make it compatible with Windows 7.

I managed to keep my scanner working by buying the version of Windows 7 that enables a virtual 32-bit Windows XP simulation, but it was a very awkward workaround and I was still stuck with Nikon Scan as my scanning software.

I found the ultimate solution in scanning software called Vuescan, available at Vuescan works with a dizzying array of scanning devices and offers much more control over the scanning process without making things too complicated.

Using Vuescan is like having a new scanner and it’s the main reason I’ve been able to easily digitize long-lost images from my negative and slide archives.

When you consider that the average lifespan of a computer is 3-5 years, it’s downright remarkable that this scanner is still performing like a champ after 13 years.

I suspect some of the Coolscan IV scanners offered on Ebay are going to cheaply because their owners think they can’t be made to work with 64-bit operating systems. Maybe I should pick up one or two more…

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