No, it’s not the name of a robot from a Star Wars parody. It’s the model number of the Panasonic tape recorder I got for my 13th birthday.

My Aunt Alvera and Uncle Ray had a neighbor who worked for Panasonic. He could get electronics cheaper than retail, so offered to obtain a tape recorder for me. I was to look at a catalog and pick out the one I wanted. I don’t remember why I chose the one I chose, but the model number has stuck with me for almost 40 years.

I used this tape recorder to interview my younger brother one morning while our parents slept. I used this tape recorder to record tapes to my grandparents in Wisconsin and to play the ones they sent us. I used this tape recorder to record tapes for Jeremy and to listen to the ones his family sent me. I used this to secretly record conversations on long trips in the car and then play them back for laughs.

When Mom and I were sorting her attic treasures I reached into a box and felt something hard. I grabbed it and began to pull it out of the box. Before I saw what was in my hand I shouted, “RQ-209s! I’ve found RQ-209s!”

Sure enough, I held my long-lost tape recorder. I pushed the play button and heard a whirring noise, but nothing turned. I checked the battery compartment and found four 10 year old batteries. I guess I’d found this within the past 10 years and tried it out. I sort of remembered that it didn’t work anymore, but decided to take it home anyway.

I was right, even with fresh batteries, the wheels don’t turn. I suppose it could be the belt and I could purchase one for under $5 on the Internet, but what’s the point? I lost the microphone (this model doesn’t have an embedded microphone) and the AV cord. I’ll probably toss it in the trash before too long, or I could list it on Ebay.

But for now I’ll just look at it — one of my first pieces of technology. It makes me happy just to see it sitting there.

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