Technology is changing in leaps and bounds, as new gadgets get obsolete shortly after reaching their target market. Although updating to the latest iPhone seems to be an almost compulsive urge, it is a race that we can never win!
So, let us take a nostalgic walk down memory lane, considering some of the best, path-breaking and fun gadgets from the last century are now outdated, outmoded, or merely forced into irrelevance by other upgraded versions of the same technology.
Let’s reminisce about some hero technologies of past decades that ruled our hearts back then:
Pagers and beepers
Pagers, designed and built in the 1950s, were the most popular one-way communication devices used by emergency services, doctors, and safety personnel to be reachable 24*7. But, with the enhanced coverage offered by smartphones, pagers and beepers are now redundant and long forgotten!
Floppy disks were the very first innovation that allowed data storage in the 1970s. But, as the floppy disks continued to get smaller, their storage capacity grew considerably by the 1980s. As a result, they were trendy till the time CD-ROMs completely replaced them in the 1990s.
Digital Versatile Disc (DVD)
Even writing the complete form of DVD makes me feel old, let alone talk about its predecessor – the VHS player. The pioneer of the digital video format – DVDs developed by tech giants Philips, Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba. DVDs were a common medium for file storage, software sales, and high-quality video playback. Moreover, they had a lifespan of up to 100 years. However, with faster internet speeds and superior formats like Blu-ray – even 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray taking over the market, DVDs are nearly extinct.
The humble typewriter, the “dumb” precursor to the modern-day laptop, was yet another marvel of technology. It allowed humans to go a step beyond the standard paper and pen format, opening up a world of immense possibilities; to beautifully craft novels, scribe propaganda, or document history!
Discman, Walkman, and MP3 players
Over hundreds of portable music player formats have spawned over time to accommodate the expected quality of the musical medium; these included portable cassette players, Minidisc players, portable CD players, and MP3 players. The world has both frustrating and fond memories of such players. Who can forget trying to unwind chewed-up tape in a Walkman or scrolling through cassette tape using a pencil.
The traditional film camera is no longer in demand, as the reliance on reels of film or trips to the local photo studio to get them processed is way too big a task for the millennials. Digital cameras, SD cards, phone cameras, and modern computing systems allow you to snap away happily and see the instant results of the photos without much hassle and expense. This miraculous technology of the 80s still stays alive for the artistic pursuits of pro photographers and retro snappers (you can be called retro for all kinds of reasons these days).
Some gadgets that I did not cover which should find honorable mention are the Nintendo Game Boy, Palm Pilots, the Casio calculator watch, Atari, and Tamagotchi (look that one up 😉). The public phone booth, the phone book, rotary dial phones, encyclopedias – now I am really revealing my age 😊.
Whether it is basic calculators, “dumb” phones, or the fun we had with Super Mario and Duck Hunt – all these technologies of the 80s and 90s have a unique, golden place in our memories and hearts.