Our craft evolves via a series of ideas that find acceptance over time.
It’s well to remember that things we take for granted today were once considered impractical. The ability to independently control two trains on a single section of track was a pipe dream once, as was two-rail DC control. Each idea persisted until technology caught up with the vision.
In a world dominated by quarter-inch scale, HO scale was a novelty once, as was N scale mere decades later in a world dominated by HO.
The idea that a model train could do more than chase its tail around a sheet of plywood was new at one time. Today, we take it for granted that our models can replicate a purposeful sequence of moves inspired by full-size railroad operations.
The abundance of accurate, ready-to-run equipment came about because a handful of modelers began to share their observations about the differences among freight cars. From an era of the generic, when few cared whether a model represented a specific car, we now understand that not all boxcars are cut from the same cloth. Furthermore, now we expect those differences, both major and minor, to be accurately rendered by manufacturers.
And so it goes, ideas crop up and make the journey from being some idiot’s harebrained scheme, to maybe that might work, and on to why isn’t everybody doing this? Or, in business terms: from the fringe, to the early adopters, to the mass market and finally to the late adopters and your Aunt Tilly.
Our craft is no different.
I wonder, what sorts of harebrained ideas are we dismissing today, that we’ll take for granted tomorrow? What sacred cows are we clinging to that will soon be as antiquated as outside third rail power distribution?