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Dave Allen Remembers
The Family at 20 Damon Road
A personal memoir

On a day in October 1987 it just happened that I was looking out my front window at 20 Damon Road. Recently sold, there was mild anticipation about the new owners. Not for long, however, for a car pulled up and out came the new owners.... all three of them.... Bob and Peg and three-year-old Amanda. They paused briefly to take in the image of their new home and to delight in all that it represented. Now..... a place of their very own! I know that feeling well....

They walked quickly to the front door and then paused dramatically. Their new home demanded that a certain ceremony be performed.... Slowly, and with great honor Bob approached Peg and with elegance lifted her up and swept her across the threshold, leaving Amanda momentarily alone and wiggling with delight at what she had just seen. However, it was but a fraction of a second and he re-emerged from the interior of their little cottage to sweep Amanda off her feet and carry HER across the threshold! Thus it was that I witnessed a new family born before my very eyes!

In retrospect, there was an extraordinary affinity between our families...... both professionally tuned to the latest technology available. Bob was a part of my life as a journalist in interactive video and Peg was a part of my wife's world as a professor at Massachusetts College of Art. One became my successor at Videography and the other was hired quickly as a colleague at Mass Art. Never were there a more compatible pair than those at 19 Damon Road and 20 Damon Road.

But one last item.... it seems so unlikely that it is on the odds of winning the lottery. Bob in the late 70's had a task of making a CED videodisc for RCA Labs. At the same time and without any knowledge of the other, I was working with Jon Clemens, the inventor of the disc, on showing unusual things that were possible in interactive video.... things that you may not have thought possible such as stopping, starting and variable speed of the CED disc. To make this all come about required a new RCA video disc player, model SJT400. Alas not for long, however. We were all shocked in 1984 when RCA announced the end of the CED video disc just when it was spectacularly rising to the forefront of the nation's major players.

So it is that when the Turner's and the Allen's got together that we found that just before quitting the business, Bob Turner and David Allen each had received an RCA SJT400 player. In the event this is perhaps the rarest item that RCA ever delivered. And guess what.... there is a place at 19 Damon Road and across the street at 20 Damon Road where these machines.... the RCA SJT400... are even now well and active. This is one for Believe it or Not by Ripley!

David P. Allen
Contributing Editor, emeritus, Videography Magazine

Posted: 20 July 2005
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor