I remember removing one of the last strong-motion film-recorders from one of our sites in 2003. The instrument was no longer in operation, but nobody had found the time to do the six-hour drive just for the purpose of recovering an instrument we had no use for.

It was indeed more an art than science to set the trigger-level on these recorders and, naturally, there was great disappointment when the instrument missed an interesting event. Missing events was commonplace, either because the instrument had run out of film—which was full of uninteresting stuff—or it did not trigger because the threshold...

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