Old is New Again

by Colin Berkshire

One of the popular trends in cables is braided nylon. They not only look good, but they wear exceptionally well. Unlike plastic coated cables they don’t crack, rarely fray, glide easily, and tend not to kink. They also feel nice to the tough and don’t get sticky. I like them for my network and iPhone cables, and even USB cables.

Yes, braced nylon cables are one of the great advancements of recent times.

Um, no.

A hundred years ago phone companies discovered that braided cables were superior. They would wear well, they were nice to the touch, they didn’t crack or fray, and they lasted almost forever. They didn’t have nylon until 1938 so they used cotton. But the effect was the same: a long lasting, good wearing, comfortable, tangle-free cable.

If you look at any old telephone cord board you will always see braided cotton or nylon cables. They were so superior that nothing surpassed them until the cord-switchboard became obsolete after 50 years.

So I have a good time listening to young 20-somethings on YouTube with their blogs talking about their great discovery of braided cables*. Do you call such people ignorant or enlightened? I am not sure. Certainly ignorant of the history of what they are talking about, but also enlightened that a 100 year old technology is still relevant—even if they don’t know it.

*Yeah, really.