The excavation of ancient machines involves a serious and political dimension
Throughout my childhood and adolescence I went from great broadcast transmitters and long distance telephones to the popularity of Wi-Fi. I have seen firsthand how the fields of electronic communication have become blurred in information technologies, and I am thinking about how to do technological archeology today.
There are forms of archeology that examine the memory of technology and telecommunication infrastructures, where their understanding is geopolitical, socio-ecological, and governance of telecommunications and the Internet.
In 1982, Japan donated famous technological equipment to Mexico. One of them is the digital telephone switch. A device about the size of a closet, allowing the connection of telephone lines and It contained the first digital signal processor introduced into telecommunications. The fate of this team was among others Center for Mexican-Japanese Technological StudiesLocated in the industrial zone of the municipality of Celaya in the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico.
It was switches like the ones they donated to Mexico that introduced computing to the world of telecommunications, Professor Fermin, one of the laboratory’s curators, told me when I arrived at the center as a 15-year-old student. Fermin was part of the first generation of electronic communications engineers in Mexico. I don’t know his last name; Everyone knew him as Professor Fermin.
At that time, this equipment was already considered obsolete and was part of the laboratory’s warehouse. Little did I know the value of this tool to the foundation of modern telecommunications, I wanted to understand the intuition of Professor Fermin’s words. When I was told about the object of this equipment they did not match the place inside the laboratory.
I wondered: How is it possible that the devices that revolutionized telecommunications are now hidden and stored away, dusty and abandoned?
With the support of Fermin and other colleagues I began to study teams with enthusiasm. We got them to work in 2005 and we started as archaeologists with equipment donated to us from Japan in 1982.
A digital telephone switch is the closest predecessor to the computer network router as we know it today. Its goal is to replace the old electromechanical mechanisms used in the past and combine the logic and physical layer into a digital switching interface. This fusion of transport and data content introduced the computer into electronic communications.
Technological archeology has allowed us to observe that understanding the concepts of transport and content in the context of this call switching tool was a significant part of what allowed the beginning of modern telecommunications with the introduction of computers.
I wonder if the teams came through the Pacific or Gulf Streams. or by plane at cruising speed. Something I still cannot fully answer the question of why we hide the history of infrastructures, but I can share that this fact is very important to my interest in the history of telecommunication, computer and audiovisual technologies.
Crime around the academic center increased while insecurity became common in Guanajuato, which has not changed to this day. This brought my studies to an abrupt halt in 2006 and my position at the meeting with Japan.
Due to the contexts of Latin America, it seems to me even more important to do technical archeology because it also includes a political dimension. LThe so-called “obsolescence of technology” is, in many cases, Further Planned and realized obsolescence. Technology that is considered outdated is relevant in our regions.
In Latin America, there are technologies that are considered ruins, while for our regions they are the possibility of autonomous relations. An example of this is radio. Today we are grateful Latin America and the Caribbean Radio Map As of 2020 there are at least 6,667 community radio stations in the region.
This was the case with the original Macewal people in Mexico. who has his radios under the economic and social models of their social life. Younger members of one of the Masewal village radios told me that radio was autonomous for them, as their radios were beyond government approval and privilege.
One of Fermin’s dreams was to reactivate the radio club to build antennas and learn about the transmission and propagation of waves across lengths and distances. He also defended the common use of laboratories against institutional forces that maintained them as decaying and dilapidated museums.
I wonder what happened to my colleagues and co-workers and what happened to Fermin. I wonder what’s in people’s existence They participated in the construction of many of the technologies we use today.
This may be the beginning of the archeology of the present, when one looks at present-day technology for features of past equipment. However, for those of us moving from computing, crafts, and programming, it seems to me appropriate to recognize the finitude of the technologies we create and their aging process. The relationships we create through technology and our stories are important; The conversations we had, the joys and conflicts we had.