This post inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The prompt: Technology


Bell & Howell movie projector
Purchased 1983
400 ft & 50 ft reels of film


One of my favorite memories as a child was home movie night.
When my grandparents would visit. And the 8mm movie projector was hauled out with great fanfare and set up in the living room on a card table. The screen slid out of its long narrow tattered cardboard box. Metal supports positioned on the carpeted floor. Screen unrolled and hooked tight.

My family would gather & find seats. Kids usually cross legged on the floor. Waited for my father or grandfather to get the film threaded properly. It seemed there was always an issue. Nothing was automatic. The damn film got stuck. Wait a minute. I’ll have to trim it. Okay here we go.

Finally, the window shades were pulled down. Lights out. The room illuminated only by the projector bulb.

Then magic happened. Flickering images of the “old days” appeared on the screen. My parents in their early twenties. My grandparents mugging for the camera – much too young to be my grandparents…but there they were!  My sisters, brother and I as babies. Toddlers. Christmas mornings. Easter baskets. Birthday parties.

My siblings and I…fascinated. Eyes glued to the screen.

The only sound…the humming projector. Interspersed with the whirring and clicking of rewinding and changing each 3 minute long reel.  With no audio….

The original silent home movie. 8mm and later – Super 8mm.

I was forever hooked. My mouth hung open in disbelief at the power of this machine to go back in time. Or so it seemed. Even without sound, it was better than television. When I reached high school age, I was honored to be the one who set up home movie night. Learning to thread the film into the projector. Trimming when necessary.

It was perfectly natural to continue this obsession when I became a mom.

First with a super 8mm movie camera. I had to control myself. Three minutes went by fast. Film sent to Kodak for processing wasn’t cheap. In 1983 we added the movie projector – and a screen – to watch the movies of our baby daughter. Six years later, our son. Christmas. Easter. Birthday parties. Watching a storm. Running in the backyard. At the beach….

We eventually graduated to a camcorder. Next a digital movie camera. Then a phone.

I preserved the home movies of my childhood by having them transferred to videotape in the 1990’s. I held my breath until I got them back in the mail from the video conversion company. Which had first spliced the movies onto over a dozen 400 foot reels. Safely returned along with the videotapes. Which we later added music to. And duplicated for my family members.

Decades later, when the tapes began to disintegrate, I digitized them on my computer.

Grateful for more technology to keep memories alive.

I still have the movie reels. The projector. Just in case. Trusting what I can hold in my hand. No offense to thumb drives, platter drives, solid state drives…phones…and clouds everywhere.

Below is a snippet of a (silent) 3 minute movie I took of my daughter, who is narrating what she sees out the open window.

Hurricane Gloria – September 1985.
Transferred from 8mm movie film to videotape to a M4v digital file.
Old technology saved by the new.




15 thoughts on “Technology

  1. Those old films are such a treasure to have! You brought back memories for me. The Cinnie Camera as we called it. We had the film put onto VHS, but we haven’t updated since then, something I must do!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh my goodness, we had the same wonderful movie nights in the living room when I was a child! My favorite was a documentary about bears, probably in Yellowstone. I still have boxes of reels which I have never converted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such fun to remember 🙂, There’s still a reputable company you can send the reels to, which will convert straight to digital and DVD. Opportunity for those of us with those boxes still tucked away 😉


      1. Sure! I wasn’t able to find your email on your blog, so I’ll list it here. I have not used it personally since I had the conversion done so long ago. Now they go right to digital from the film reels so the quality would be even better. I know someone who has used their service for photos, etc and had a good experience:


  3. The photo of the film projector made me click through, but the sharing of your memories of your youth sucked me in. Thank you.

    When I was a kid in the 1970s my uncle, Dad’s brother, showed us the film reel of home movies​ of his adventures. Good times.

    I don’t know if it was 8mm or Super 8 or something else.

    Liked by 1 person

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