Jason Lindquist (jlindquist) wrote,
Jason Lindquist

Another basketball scoregeek post...

This is fucking vintage: Vintage Nevco full-size basketball scoreboard. The seller claims it's from the 1940s, but I have severe doubts about that--the time display is digital. Photos and ads I've seen from the 40s and 50s all had mechanical clocks. This is probably '60s hardware. If you look closely at the score panels, there's enough lights there to do properly-shaped digits (a curved '2' instead of the 7-segment style you see on the clock display above it.) The controller hardware lying in front looks about the same vintage. The shape of the top of the cabinet is rounded, as if it accomodated a round mechanical clock face--this might have been one of Nevco's first models with a digital clock.

The time display up top is virtually identical to modern-era Nevco hardware up 'till their switch to LED displays 3-5 years ago. 20 red C7 7-watt nightlight/Christmas tree bulbs arranged in a 7-segment configuration per digit, with two orange bulbs forming a colon. This one only goes up to 19:59, newer hardware has a full tens digit, topping out at 30, 60, or 99 minutes depending on the controller. Other manufacturers show much more significant cosmetic changes over the years. (I've been in a lot of gyms, I've seen a lot of hardware revs.) Cosmetic changes on Nevco boards are very subtle--the addition of a round rectangle surrounding their logo; the change from a textual "bonus" light to a split indicator with a "B" in a red box next to a green arrow for alternating possession; the third orange bulb below the clock colon, used as a decimal point when the clock "jumps" to the left in the last minute, to show tenths of a second.

By contrast, Fair-Play made boatloads of changes. Next time I'm home, I should get the staff at Glenbrook North to let me take some pictures of the portable boards we used to use in the back gyms. There's a wide variety of hardware vintage there. Multi-colored dots for period indicators becoming a digit, bonus indicator changes, lighting changes, and the wacky variety of controllers. The newest (early-80s) ones used BCD thumbwheels to set digits, older ones were push-to-increment buttons for each ones and tens digit. The wildest is the player foul displays that use a rotary telephone dial to set them. (The ones I labeled "Dial-A-Foul" in magic marker.)

Neat stuff, but I'm happy to have microprocessor-driven systems now. It's a hell of a lot less prone to failure.

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