Gadgets That Didn’t Stand the Test of Time

with 2 comments

Yesterday\'s music from yesterday\'s transistor

Today, we feel hip if we own an i-pod, a blackberry or a sub-notebook. They are part of our lives in 2008. If you take a picture of yourself with one of these gadgets today, you’ll be able to tell when the photo was taken in years to come simply by looking at the gadgets that you can see on the picture – or by the ones that are NOT visible yet because they haven’t been invented yet. Take the picture today and you’ll be able to look back and laugh at the funny things we used back at the beginning of the 21st century.

Gadgets define the times we’re living in

If you see a photograph today of people using a walkman and wearing flimsy headphones, you’ll instantly recognise that it must have been taken in the 1980s. A picture of someone using a pocket camera will bring back the 1970s. At the time, these gadgets were the greatest thing since sliced bread. Everyone had them. And everyone thought “how can things get even better than this?”

I remember when I owned a cassette walkman in the early 1990s that was little bigger than the actual audio cassette. At the time, I thought that this was surely the end of evolution: how could they possibly make these things even smaller? Surely the gadget had to be at least as big as the audio cassette.

It never dawned on me then that the device used for storing the music would change, i.e. good-bye to the audio cassette, hello to the micro-chip that stores digitalised music in the mp-3 format.

So I started thinking about technical gadgets that are connected to certain time-periods. How they define a period and how they were replaced by newer “toys”


  • transistor radio
  • portable record players


  • pocket cameras
  • 8-track-tape players
  • electric typewriters


  • walkman
  • discman
  • “mobile phones” where you had to lug around something like a car battery to keep them going
  • laser discs (“Laser Vision”)
  • electronic typewriters
  • Commodore 64
  • Atari ST


  • mp-3 player


  • ??

Additional examples appreciated…

Written by Thorsten

April 8, 2008 at 12:15 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Remember those ludicrous phones the guys used in Miami Vice? Gone…
    BTW: thx for including me in your blogroll with a request for change- my travelogue has gone bi-lingual (german – denglish)
    best, /d


    April 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm

  2. Still remember with nostalgic yearning the time BEFORE the bloody transistor was invented and being outdoors without noise-pollution!


    April 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm

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