Talking tech since 2003

ABC’s original TGIF ran from 1989 until 2000, bringing us classic shows like Full HouseFamily Matters and more. Before late-night video game sessions, movies and bars were options, these shows were the haps for millennials on Friday nights. I mean, who wasn’t stuck at their grandparents at some point while their parents went out on a date, with nothing but Ace of Base on cassette and the comedic stylings of Jaleel White to hold them over?

I couldn’t have been the only one.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a look back at these shows, but in doing so, I stumbled across some technology that was great back then but has since been replaced by something exponentially better. Still, it’s fun to peer into the past — even if it makes me feel extremely old. I mean, has it really been 24 years since TGIF first went on the air? Really? Ugh.


1. The Walkman, Boy Meets World

Yep, this is Mr. Feeny, clutching Sony’s famous cassette-based music player in front of its owner, one Cory Matthews. The original Walkman came to the U.S. in 1980, about 13 years before the first episode of Boy Meets World hit the airwaves. This gadget had some staying power, but the CD version wasn’t far from supplanting it, and MP3 players would become popular less than a decade later.



2. Transformation Chamber, Family Matters

What, you didn’t have one of these growing up? Yeah, we didn’t either. This transformation chamber, invented by Family Matters’ Steve Urkel, transformed him from the nerdiest of nerds into the suave and dapper Stefan Urquelle. Time would prove, however, that a revamped exterior and a lot of smooth talk could not adequately replace the original. Take notes, Windows.


cody's camcorder-step-by-step

3. Cody’s camcorder, Step By Step

I’ve searched high and low trying to determine exactly what make and model this is, and I’m leaning toward Canon’s ES800, which debuted in October 1994. The ES800 used 8mm tapes, a technology that has since been replaced by high-capacity memory cards. A quick search on eBay shows an ES800 listed for $15 with zero bids, so if you want to relive this somewhat-forgettable moment in Step By Step history (a Foster/Lambert Production), you can do so on the cheap.



4. Rotary telephone, Dinosaurs

It’s said that dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago. That’s clearly not true, because the rotary telephone didn’t make its way into U.S. homes until 1919, and as you can see above, the stars of ABC’s Dinosaurs had such a device, along with access to flannel shirts, high chairs, and many other conveniences we don’t associate with these supposed “extinct” creatures. Someone, somewhere, is a liar. Just for fun, here’s a link to the one thing you probably remember about this show.



5. Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Full House

Nintendo’s Super follow-up to the extremely popular NES arrived in 1991. Three years later, we got to watch four adults become addicted to a child’s video game on Full House. As Danny, Becky, Jesse and Joey take over the monstrously-sized gamepad and obsess over the action, little Michelle does a terrible, terrible thing — she pulls the cartridge out while the system is on. Have mercy.



6. Salem’s computer, Sabrina the Teenage Witch

It appears that a crew member tried, and failed, to scribble out the logo on the back of this device. A close look and you can probably determine that Salem’s tiny computer from Sabrina the Teenage Witch is from the Compaq family. But which device, exactly? After some digging, I’m pretty confident that we’re looking at the Compaq PC Companion C2010c, which first landed on countertops in September 1998. The C2010c packed a lightning-fast 75 MHz processor and a hefty 20 MB of RAM into a small, Microsoft Handheld PC 2.0-powered device that, in terms of form factor, was actually a little ahead of its time.

And now I want a talking cat all over again.

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