Throwback tech: Forgotten gadgets that people still own
In the past few decades, technology has evolved at a blistering pace and it seems like we’re forever trying to keep up. Our old gadgets become casualties of our lust for the latest and greatest, though instead of selling them off or throwing them away, some keep these older devices around as a reminder of what used to be.
I solicited submissions from a couple of people who work in the areas of technology and communications. Each has a device that has been made obsolete by the current generation of game consoles, or by the newest, fastest laptops and tablets — yet they’ve chosen to hold on to it.
Name: Rick Clancy
Device: Sony Laser Disc player
It seems Rick enjoys holding onto old relics. He also has a MiniDisc player/recorder, an 8mm camcorder and an 8mm home deck. The Laser Disc format was introduced to the market in 1978 and, despite the rise of VHS and DVD, held on for a long time. The last Laser Disc release in the U.S. came in 2000, and the last player was manufactured in 2009.
Name: Jason Sutherland
Device: Atari 2600
Jason told me that the Atari 2600 was the first game system he ever had in his home. Fun fact: he also had a Pong-integrated TV. The 2600 was released in 1977 and launched at a price of $199. If it was selling today, the price adjusted for inflation would be $769.09. The Xbox One is looking pretty affordable now, right?
Name: Carol Almeda-Morrow
Company: Mindful eCycling
Device: Motorola Profile 300e
This phone was released by Motorola back in 1996. Carol’s company, which specializes in cell phone buybacks and recycling, as well as cell phone donations to troops, received the phone from a customer. “If only it could speak, all the stories it would tell…” she said.
Name: Lance Keene
Company: Keene Systems, Inc.
Device: ELF II
The ELF II is a hobbyist computer and the device that gave Lance Keene his start. Keene told me fondly about how he ordered the ELF II out of the back of a magazine and how extremely limited the machine was compared to today’s systems. “If you open Notepad on your computer and type in 256 characters, that’s how big this computer’s memory was,” he said. Keene now runs his own development company and works on much newer machines, but he still keeps the ELF II in his basement.
Name: Joshua Barber
Company: V4 Development, LLC
Device: Fisher-Price PXL2000
The PXL2000 came out back in 1987 and gave kids the ability to shoot video onto audio cassette tapes in black and white. It only survived on the market for about a year, but Joshua Barber managed to find one at a flea market. So why did he buy it and why is he holding on to it? “With all of our newest iPhone gadgets having new versions every year, etcetera, I have a soft spot in my heart for some real analog types of technology,” he said.
Name: Jill Mikols Etesse
Device: Texas Instruments Speak & Spell
Wow, did the memories ever come rushing back when I saw this one! I don’t know where mine is today, but Jill Mikols Etesse still has her Speak & Spell close by. Why? “I keep it in my office to remind me of when I used it as a kid and how far I have come to running an app development company!”
Name: Doug Boutwell
Company: Totally Rad! Inc.
Device: Rollieflex 2.8
Doug Boutwell is big on photography and runs a company that has developed photo apps like PicTapGo, as well as products for Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom. He owns a Rollieflex 2.8 from the 1950s that he snagged from a thrift shop. “The variety of design and the craftsmanship are two of the things I enjoy most about the vintage cameras,” he said. “Nowadays, cameras are all basically the same, but in the mid-20th century, there were some wild designs. Cameras had more personality.”
By the way, Doug is actually in the above photo holding the Rollieflex 2.8.
Name: Ritch Blasi
Device: Atari 400
“I bought the Atari 400 as a Christmas present to myself in December 1979,” Ritch told me. “For some reason I never got rid of the unit – and for that matter, never really played video games anymore, except with my nieces or nephews… and always lost.”
Are you still holding on to an older gadget? Tell us about it below!