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Gadgets, Then & Now 287

An anonymous reader writes in to tell us about "A funny article about gadgets from the 70's & 80's compared to gadgets of today. Amazing that you can fit 25,000 5 1/4 diskettes on one 8GB compact flash, and phones weighed 11.5 pounds! "
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Gadgets, Then & Now

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  • by fatduck ( 961824 ) * on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:18PM (#15281466)
    Gee willikers! Remember when cars looked like this [tinyurl.com]?? Wacky! Or remember when the earth looked like this [tinyurl.com]?!!? Times sure are a changin'!
  • Meh.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by celardore ( 844933 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:21PM (#15281477)
    I can fit anything on my flash cards. They're so small I just pile it all on top of them.
    Once I put a cup of coffee on my flash card, technology is awesome.
  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:22PM (#15281480)
    Woah woah woah! Are you trying to tell me that progress has been made in the past 30 years with regards to technology?!? I'm glad this is finally getting some press...
  • by ravee ( 201020 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:24PM (#15281487) Homepage Journal
    Holy cow!! Going by this trend, things are going to be very very small in the future. Maybe we might need eyes with microscopic powers to use some of the gadgets of the future.
  • by bogie ( 31020 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:25PM (#15281493) Journal
    A whole six items. *cough*
  • by DarthChris ( 960471 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:26PM (#15281498)
    TFA isn't very deep, I was expecting an interesing and in-depth read.
    As the old joke goes: Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be.
  • In-depth reporting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fatduck ( 961824 ) * on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:27PM (#15281501)
    This article took all of what, 5 minutes using Google Image Search to throw together? Brilliant!

    • This article took all of what, 5 minutes using Google Image Search to throw together? Brilliant!


      Yes. But, back in the 80's when they did a 60's vs 80's article, it took them 5 months.
      And they didn't have no Google either.
  • Refinement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bullfish ( 858648 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:29PM (#15281507)
    Thing is, as clunky as all that stuff was back in the day, the same some exists now, only in sleeker, more refined format. If you look especially how much a lot of stuff like phones and computers have shrunk in the last 20 years while increasing capacity, it's enough to make you believe that powerful, wearable and unobtrusive computers etc will be common within say 15 years. The hype we get over new products that disappoint is often enough to make you say "it's all crap", but comparatives like this is a reminder that real progress is made.
    • Re:Refinement (Score:3, Interesting)

      by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      If you look especially how much a lot of stuff like phones and computers have shrunk in the last 20 years while increasing capacity, it's enough to make you believe that powerful, wearable and unobtrusive computers etc will be common within say 15 years.

      You can buy such today, however being small isn't always good, and that'a a huge obstacle to small wearing gadgets. Now if we put direct nerve interface into the picture...

      Virtual 24 inch flat screen and a virtual keyboard you can type on (or even just "thin
    • And if You'll remember back in the days, progress meant "better, faster, stronger, superior." Let's take a comparison of the Ford Model T or Model A, and compare to a Ford Ranger or Taurus (Yes I mentioned a truck in a list of general cars, you'll soon find otu why.) Both the model T and model As were lighter, less powerful, did their job, and because of them, new laws that made no sense were introduced. (A man must walk ahead of a driving lady with a lantern to signal she was coming) as cars got faster and
  • by magetoo ( 875982 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:34PM (#15281535)
    Regarding phones, it's probably a bigger change that the word has changed meaning.
    (It used to mean "that thing that you plug into the wall that lets you talk to other people far away", for you kids. Yes, outlets in the wall, at your home.)

    I wonder how you'd explain todays über-gadgets to someone from the eighties. "This? Oh, it's my .. um, tricorder. Yeah, that's it."

  • on the xbox 360 I really don't see that 30 year difference.
    • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:57PM (#15281619)
      Actually, if you look at the videogame, you'll see that they managed to put the pictures in the wrong order: left is the new one, right the old one :)

      I've spend a bit of time on www.c64s.com lately, and found out that a lot of the games of the time really weren't worth the effort of loading in. Remember listening to 30 minutes of peeps and squicks to find out that you just loaded an amazingly crappy game? (luckily you got a cracked version from a copied tape for free anyway) The were some real quality games (Commando!!) with very cool sound etc, and the memory just biases to think that all games were better that time. Hell no!

      By the way: did anyone ever manage to play Monty Mole with success? I never found out wath the goal was!!! Or Mission Impossible (with the buildings where you had to search lockers), I think I never finished that one

      • So pimpimpim sez:

        " I've spend a bit of time on www.c64s.com lately, and found out that a lot of the games of the time really weren't worth the effort of loading in. Remember listening to 30 minutes of peeps and squicks to find out that you just loaded an amazingly crappy game? (luckily you got a cracked version from a copied tape for free anyway)"

        Which prompted people to then buy the 1541 disk drive. Which was somewhat faster than the cassette drive.

        Shortly afterwards, an EPYX FastLoad cartridge was inevita
      • I managed to finish Monty On The Run, and I'm pretty sure my brother completed Mission Impossible (I found it, well, impossible...).

        There were a hell of a lot of crap games for a small number of absolute gems, but then the more things change the more they stay the same. Today we get zillions of mediocre 3D FPS games. Back then we got zillions of mediocre 2D platform games.

        Having said that, there was also some genuine creativity if you looked for it (Little Computer People, for example), and the ratio of c

      • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @04:47PM (#15282266)
        By the way: did anyone ever manage to play Monty Mole with success? I never found out wath the goal was!!!


        I think it involves trying to get all the money you can. In one of the games, you need to impress a fiancee and need as much money as possible.

        In either case, it's a game that requires creating a very big map - especially since it branches and has airports that bring you from one area to another.

        Or Mission Impossible (with the buildings where you had to search lockers), I think I never finished that one


        In Impossible Mission, searching lockers sometimes gives you a picture of some sort - there are 36 pictures in total. The objective is to take these pictures and place them one-atop-another to create a solid rectangle - up to 9 in total. Obtaining and orienting each rectangle in the correct direction gives you 1 code letter. You may sometimes need lift resets and

        For reference, you have six hours to complete the game. Getting killed takes 10 minutes. Using the phone hint system costs a couple of minutes. Note that the C64 versions that are commonly available have a major bug - if a robot shoots off the left side of the screen, you die. Naturally, this results in an insta-kill in some layouts.

        Impossible Mission II is similar - although the objective is to collect 6 our of 8 tapes from the building subsections. However, you need to find code numbers to leave a subsection of a building.

  • The downside (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doubting Maxwell ( 962422 ) <maxwell@residentcynic.net> on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:35PM (#15281547) Homepage
    The downside is that techology seems to be getting more unreliable, from a user perspective.

    I'm on my third PS2 right now, but my Atari 2600 (still fun!) works like new...
    • Re:The downside (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @01:10PM (#15281651) Homepage Journal
      The downside is that techology seems to be getting more unreliable, from a user perspective.

      I'm on my third PS2 right now, but my Atari 2600 (still fun!) works like new...


      That's pretty true, though I wonder if Sony's build quality is the worst in that industry.

      Besides, the original list price of that Atari was $199, making that about $656 in today's money.
    • techology seems to be getting more unreliable

      That's just your impression, because you have forgotten all the stuff you had back then that broke up. Your Atari 2600 amazes you because it has been running for 20 years or so, but maybe something you bought this year will still be running 30 years from now, how can you tell at this point?

      My own personal image of reliability comes from all the calculators with LED displays I had in the 1970s, before LCD displays became common. Those calculators had NiCd batteri

    • Re:The downside (Score:5, Insightful)

      by springbox ( 853816 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @03:24PM (#15282050)
      I'm on my third PS2 right now, but my Atari 2600 (still fun!) works like new...

      Could it be that the Atari is simpler in design and less prone to breaking whereas the PS2 is much more complex and has notably more points of failure?

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:36PM (#15281549) Homepage
    Someone--I think it was Robert Kuttner but can't find the reference--was trying to explain the "paradox" that all of the economic figures seem good, yet polls consistently show U. S. citizens are pessimistic about the economic future.

    His belief is that the problem is that the official inflation figures contain a mixture of prices for things like consumer electronics gadgets, which have continuously decreased in price, and things like healthcare costs and college tuition, which have continuously increased in price at far faster rate than "the" inflation rate.

    The problem is that things like healthcare and education are much more important ultimately than cellular phones that can show video.

    He said that we are turning into "a tchotchke society," rich in frivolous gadgets but poor in literacy rates, infant mortality, etc.

    I love my iPod, but I'm worried about my medical insurance.
    • by Raleel ( 30913 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:49PM (#15281592)
    • He said that we are turning into "a tchotchke society," rich in frivolous gadgets but poor in literacy rates, infant mortality, etc.

      That's because we can get brown people in distant countries to make our gadgets for us on the cheap. We can't do the same for health care or education. If the economic worm turned and those people weren't willing to work for so little, we'd find ourselves not only health-care-less but gadget-less as well! We are rich in shit, cheap crap which relies on the world's have-nots
      • If the economic worm turned

        I submit that this is not if, but when. Already China is outsourcing manufacturing jobs to other countries because they can lower costs that way. As China's society becomes more affluent, the employers are coming under increasing pressure to deliver at past prices, so low-skill manufacturing jobs, like textiles and simple machine implements, are ending up in even lower-wage countries. Kind of interesting to watch, in a twisted way.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 07, 2006 @01:52PM (#15281766)
      The economic figures only look good to extreme casual observers because they keep removing important indices from the consumer price indicies. Examples are food and fuel costs, they no longer count for some reason, yet they used to use them. Uhh, seems like those are some important necessary bills there.. Another one - 30 years ago (around then) housing costs were considered expensive once you cracked 25% of your net for the mortgage, now it is 50%. Car loans were 12 months or tops 18 months, now they are 60 months. House notes were ten or at most twenty years, now thirty is common and we have the "no prinicple, interest only" loans as well(IE, never ever paid off, you have the illusion of buying when you are just another class of perpetual renter). That's *severely* downhill. Unemployment stats are another way they make things look rosy "we added 100,000 jobs this quarter!", They sort of neglect to mention that the previous quarter they lost over 100,000 well paying jobs in wealth-creation (such as manufacturing) with bennies and replaced them with half price lower paying jobs in the "service" wealth re-arranging economy with little to no bennies.

      They keep changing the parameters on what is considered "good". US household debt is now 11 trillion dollars. This is considered "good" now when obviously it isn't, what would be "good" is everything paid off, zero debt, and 11 trillion in savings.

      It's going to get worse, there is a big major move to start moving away from the petrodollar to the petroeuro in international oil prices, in fact, I will posit that is the main reason we invaded Iraq, saddam was a notorious bad guy for decades, this was nothing new. We invaded VERY shortly after he switched his oil sales to euros.

      Iran is now less than two months away from their oil bourse denominated in euros. It has taken them awhile to get their ducks in a row with it, but it keeps moving ahead slowly. they sell a LOT of oil around the planet. Even if we invade based on those nuke claims, and the oil production gets wiped out, we could EASILY see 200 buck a barrel oilo. think that won't hurt the global economy? there is NO replacement for that volume of oil on the planet, none, nothing that could be brought online within even two or three years. China is now doing direct swaps, manufactured technology and engineering expertise for energy, eliminating most of any sort of "cash" involved, and their demand is projected to be equal to todays global demand within ten years.

      Now, someone explain why they would want to have to be forced to go through a severe skim by using dollars again for that? They could use their accumulated dollars elsewhere, buying up more extreme high tech, they don't need it just to buy crude or natural gas, not much anyway. And why would europeans want to be forced to use dollars instead of euros for imported energy? Eliminating the middleman skim there with petrodollars results in HUGE savings for them, and energy costs just keep going through the roof,much faster than any other inflationary pressures and dwarfing average wage increases. So let us apply occams razor to the future a little with the US economy. It is being "second worlded" as fast as the pirate globalists can pull it off, and that has been their plan all along. The only reason they didn't do it all at once was to try and avoid a revolutionary backlash,(especially in the US where anti fascist "tools" are still in common ownership) as in an actual physical revolution. They have to do the nice and easy continual rearrangment combined with the mass brainwashing that the thousand cuts are all neglibile. And they want the US second worlded because that is the society they want, full high tech, but basically only two classes of humans, a big global plutocracy. We are right now in the mass switch to the illusion of voting with blackbox voting. We already passed the illusion of major political party differences once you cut through the soundbites and see what actually happens. Here's a good example how they pl
      • Food and energy is not removed from the CPI. However, most news articles and economic columns, etc, these days look at 'core-CPI' to estimate inflation. 'Core-CPI' is the CPI minus food and energy. If you go here [bls.gov], you'll see that "all items" is the top choice, with "all, less food and energy" underneath.
    • To throw an Mises economic spin on this, notice that the prices increasing faster than the inflation rate have heavy doses of government intervention, while those increasing slower or even decreasing are have relatively little government intervention. Of course, inflation itself created by government futzing with the money supply.
      • Using his examples I don't think that's fair. The things that are decreasing in cost are the ones that have very little intrinsic value. Cell phones for instance. They're just sand and congealed petrochemicals, intrinsic value a few cents. Their cost comes from the knowledge needed to make them work. That knowledge costs quite a bit to produce once, but then very little to maintain. Things like education, health care, bread and gasoline though continue to cost pretty much the same amount or more (heal
    • I'd not worry about medical insurance. It's still considered a luxury (Insurance for medical attention considered a luxury while CAR [non-life critical] insurance is now not almost 100% mandatory BY LAW and YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT AND NOT THE GOVERNMENT.) Hello? Can we say FORCED CONSUMERISM? Since when did the states or federal government decide that we're LEGALLY REQUIRED TO GIVE MONEY TO A *BUSINESS?* Last I checked, if the gov't required anything, THEY PROVIDED FOR IT OUT OF OUR TAX MONEY (Until the '60s
  • Come on people, stop whining and enjoy a good bit of nerd nostalgia! :)

    As a kid (lucky me), I had a seiko RC-1000 that you could program with a commodore 64! It took a shitload of time to fill in all the data and there was a maximum of 80 lines, but still! I remember trying to program my french homework in it, but in the end it took longer than just learning the work by heart :)

    RC-1000 and other nerd watch nostalgia: http://pocketcalculatorshow.com/nerdwatch/fun2.ht m l [pocketcalculatorshow.com]

  • So little change? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by redelm ( 54142 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @12:48PM (#15281588) Homepage
    The thing I found remarkable from this allegedly "high contrast" comparision is how little there actually is.

    I used floppies more than I'll ever use flash. I only used the big mobile phone for a few weekends as Dutyman, but it was more important than my cell is now. Everything else is just cosmetic. My old 8088 PC pretty much does what my current one does.

    The big difference is the WWW, especially search engines. I used to spend lots of time in libraries and with the Yellow Pages.

    • Re:So little change? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by plusser ( 685253 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @01:20PM (#15281689)
      In the last 30 years:-

      - The only supersonic airliner was Concorde - No longer in service.

      - Nobody has been to the moon either.

      Yes we have this "cool" technology these days, but we are not putting it to good use. My manager at work placed his laptop next to his 20 year old Sinclair Spectrum, and proceed to load Manic Miner (from tape) on the Specturm while the laptop was booting-up. Guess what? he was playing manic miner before the laptop had booted up - now that is progress.

      Just because something is old, it doesn't make it obsolete. The life of the average civil jet airliner is 25 years; just imagine trying to build spare electronic controllers for it. A lot of modern electroincs isn't up to the job , so you are going to have to source the same components that were commonplace 25 years ago....
    • I used floppies more than I'll ever use flash.

      That's not saying much. Might this be because there was no hard drive at the time? For a long time, that was the only affordable way to store software and operating systems. Now, files are stored on hard drives, and you can just transfer files over the network, so there's not as much need for a portable storage medium.

      I'm thankful for the current media players, especially the compact portable ones. Radio is annoying as crap with ads and constantly recycled
    • I used floppies more than I'll ever use flash.

      Then, 5 years ago, I realized that my floppies were slower than my (adsl) web link.

      Now, I just punt stuff to my web site, and leave it there to pick up when I get to my destination.
      I figure that they chould have also shown a 1980 300bps modem vs a 2006 3Mbps modem. `

  • Aah Yes... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @01:12PM (#15281657) Homepage Journal
    My first boss was an early adopter of the cellphone. He used to like to call people from the men's room and talk to them while doing his business. Before that if you wanted to call someone from the men's room you had to have a line run, but the cellphone gave him the freedom to call anyone from any men's room and talk to them while taking a giant dump. That's progress!

    I also remember him being amazed at the performance of the first 486 laptop we got in. For a long time it was the most powerful computer in the company. It really is a pity that chain smoking and the probably toxic fumes of the environment we worked in got to him. The industry's really come a long way since those days and I think he would have enjoyed watching the progress. Not to mention smaller cellphones for the men's room...

    • I had one boss who had a telephone and line installed in his "executive" bathroom, which also had a shower and a tub. The entry was through his office.

      I know he didn't have a very happy home life, since he often slept there at the office. I felt sorry for him, even though he was a colossal jerk.
  • Nostalgia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Maset ( 190867 )
    This has been happening for a while. How about the techonolical changes from 1940 to 1970?

    Nostalgia is good, only to see how good we have it now and how much we have screwed it up.
  • by Zaphod2016 ( 971897 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @01:29PM (#15281719) Homepage

    "Computers may be twice as fast now as they were in 1973, but your average voter is still just as drunk and stupid as ever."

    Joking aside, why is this news? Here, to save time I've got your next article right here:

    Six things to do instead of reading this non-story

    • post smart-ass comments on slashdot
    • download pornography
    • search Google images for pictures of cool stuff you remember...

    ...eh, this ain't getting any funnier. Best stop with three.

    • "Six things to do instead of reading this non-story
      post smart-ass comments on slashdot
      download pornography
      search Google images for pictures of cool stuff you remember..."


      If you have time try to have sex, read a book, buy a house and have normal kids.

      Oh right, none are possible today. Oh well.

  • Funny thing though (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xcott Craver ( 615642 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @01:37PM (#15281738)
    Back then, when I pressed "record" on a tape recorder or the shutter button on a camera, it did what I wanted instantaneously.

    None of this goddamn 2-second delay, or booting into the OS for 30 seconds to figure out how to record from the microphone.

    Nowadays I am reluctant to buy any technology unless it does the basic things that technology used to do for me in the 1970s. There's no way I'd go back, of course, but I think one of the great failures of consumer electronics today is that much of it is incapable of basic features 30 years back---largely as a matter of priorities and crappy user interface design.

    Xcott
    • Back then, when I pressed "record" on a tape recorder or the shutter button on a camera, it did what I wanted instantaneously. None of this goddamn 2-second delay, or booting into the OS for 30 seconds to figure out how to record from the microphone.

      The 2-second delay is normally a little thing called "autofocus". It's actually optional.

      Not sure why you're rebooting your computer just to copy an audio CD, though.
    • >None of this goddamn 2-second delay

      That's because your priorities aren't what most people's are. Most cameras bought today are used for taking posed or landscape shots. neither requires speed. If that is an actual priority of yours, buy a Nikon DSLR and the problem goes away. If that isn't really a priority, stop complaining about tradeoffs, that's why they're called tradeoffs.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Sunday May 07, 2006 @02:56PM (#15281953) Journal
      Some of it's limitations. You CAN buy a digital camera that doesn't have any 2-second pauses - I have one. But it'll cost - mine is a digital SLR, and it really is a worthy replacement for my old film SLR because it works just as well (I resisted the move to digital till this year due to the lack of affordable digital SLRs and the many drawbacks of digital photography, namely things like your 2-second wait). My Nikon D70 is ready as soon as I flip the switch, just like my old film Nikon.
    • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @02:59PM (#15281965) Homepage
      You've obviously never used anything powered by a set of vacuum tubes. A Tube-Powered TV used to take several minutes to "warm up".

      Likewise, I'll agree that modern digital cameras do suck in terms of delays, but this is actually a necessity of the feature that allows you to see the live preview. Get rid of the live preview, and you get near-instantaneous shutter-releases. The same obviously applies to all DSLRs as well -- a modern DSLR can easily surpass old old film SLRs in terms of frames per second, simply because there's no film to advance.
    • Back then, when I pressed "record" on a tape recorder or the shutter button on a camera, it did what I wanted instantaneously.

      and it would be days before the negatives and prints came back from the developer.

      perhaps a minute or two for a Polaroid. Unless you were skilled in photo lab work with toxic chemicals, enlargers and such like, you would not be doing any editing.

    • As far as cameras go, they've figured that out in some cases, although you do have to shop some. I have a Casio Exilim EX-Z750, and it's less than a second from power-on to being ready to shoot... and that includes time to extend the lens. It's ready well before I am.

      A film camera might be just a hair faster, but I can't imagine missing a shot because the 750 was too slow. And I get the result almost instantly, so I know if I need to take more pictures.

      THere are definitely slow digital cameras out there
  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @02:16PM (#15281835)
    ...is the anachronisms you get in "near future" movies and TV shows of the recent past. I still smirk whenever I remember RoboCop [imdb.com] walking through a room of reel-to-reel data storage machines before plugging himself into a crime database, or Misato [imdb.com] calling NERV headquarters on a bulky corded car phone.

    The thing about near-future cinema is they always spend more time thinking about the big technology changes than the little ones.
  • In the end of the 80s the most popular removable storage media was the 5 1/4 inch diskette, capable of storing 360 KB (later 1200 KB). If you compare that to a big compact flash card of today, you could store close to 25 000 diskettes on ONE 8GB CompactFlash card

    At the end of the 80's, the most popular removable storage media was the 3.5" floppy. They actually came out in the early to mid 80's. They were also around a dollar each, as opposed to the $480 for the SanDisk 8GB CompactFlash.

    Geez Louise! Talk about comparing apples to kumquats!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      At a dollar each, it would cost you $25,000 to put that same 8GB on floppies - quite a bit more than $480! Never mind the inconvenience.

      For storage that you can carry in your shirt pocket, this comparison would be spot-on if they had chosen 3.5" disks instead. It still shows pretty well how the convenience has increased and the price per MB has dropped dramatically.
    • Yes, you're right. By the end of the 80s the 3.5"was the most popular disk by far. The Macintosh started that and then came machines like the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga. By the end of the eighties quite a few magazines used to come with 640k disks on the front (should be enough for anyone ;-p) and even then we used to joke about the big old 5.25 disks. A couple of years on from this and the HD FD had taken over as being the disk of choice and we used to scoff at the then puny 640k disks (not enough fo
  • by graystar ( 223824 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @02:43PM (#15281917) Homepage
    No wonder techies are getting fatter these days. In the past at least carrying 25000 disks and a mobile phone would be equivalent to a decent gym session. Now all you do is carry a key ring and phone smaller than your big mac you had at lunch!
    • Hey, Big Macs are getting smaller too! Back when I was 8, I got more full from one than I do now.
      • Weird. Back when I was thirteen I could scarf a double big mac, fries and drink, supersized and be wanting more. Now a pair of egg mcmuffins means I don't have to eat for the rest of the day. I wouldn't even want to attempt the big mac.
  • * Atari 2600
    * Home version of Pac Man arcade machine
    * TRS-80 Color Computer 2 with thermal printer and a tape cassette drive
    * Cassette taping my favorite TV shows, bet the MPAA and RIAA would have been after my arse for audio recording Night Rider, MASH, and Tales of the Golden Monkey on cassette as a kid. Also had a sore arm from holding the casette recorder to the TV speaker. >_>
    * First remote controlled 4-wheel drive truck. I promptly tore that open and cut all the wires to try and figure out how i
  • by gone.fishing ( 213219 ) on Sunday May 07, 2006 @07:31PM (#15282697) Journal
    I already know some of you will just think I'm an old fart fondly remembering a simpler time and confuse it for a better time but that really isn't what I'm trying to do here.

    I liked the styling risks that some companies took back then. I get the sense that it was easier to take risks with consumer products back then.

    My favorite car radio of all times was the Sanyo Tachard radio. It was shaped like a tachometer and locked with a key so that you could remove it. There were a couple of different models, I think one was 8 watts and the other was 32 watts. For the day, the sound quality was excellent and it made the inside of my Fiat 850 Spyder look almost space age.

    RCA made a bedroom stereo that looked like an astronaut's helmet! When you lifted the face shield, the eyes were the controls, the nose the frequency dial, and the mouth was the eight-track deck.

    Initial technology was always interesting too:

    The VIC-20 from Comodore was an exceptional started computer that didn't cost an arm and a leg. It ran a form of basic that was fun to learn and use. It really was a toy and could be used to play games.

    The Sinclair ZX-80 was an ultimate cheap computer. In many ways it was terrible (especially the keyboard) but it represented a starting point for so many inventive people to perform exparaments and modifications that I have to say it did a lot for the hobby computer industry and probably launched more people into computer related careers than anything else ever has.

    Sometimes what was right and what was commercially successful were in two different worlds.

    The eight-track won out over the cassette at first, despite the fact that it was more complex and lower quality. It litterally took a decade for people to wake up!

    Sony Betamax was hands down better than VHS. It was visibly superior and actually less complex.

    Communications technology was always a big deal.

    My grandfather was a big baseball fan. For Christmas one year he was given a transistor AM radio with one of those really lousy ear-pieces. From April through October it was almost welded to his ear. It was that big a part of his life, I would even call it a life-changing thing for him. He no longer had to miss the game no matter where he went.

    My friend was the first on the block to get color TV. I was so jealous! One night we watched a cop show on his TV and the flashing lights were blue - which made no sense to me because where I was from all cop cars, fire trucks, and ambulances had red lights. It really confused me.

    My hometown was fairly small and dial phone technology came late. I was able to pick up the phone and tell Sarah, the operator that I wanted to talk to my mom and she would actually track her down or if she couldn't she would offer to call one of my grandparents for me! This is one place where technology may actually have been a hinderance for small towns. Today, the operator is likely in a different time-zone and has no knowlege of your town.

    My dad was a volinteer fireman and we had a "fire phone" in our home for years. If the phone rang steady, you picked up the phone and listened and you would hear the actual person reporting the fire or, in the event of a "second alarm" or "mutual aid" call a dispatcher. Us kids were taught to always listen if dad was home or to try to ignore the call if he wasn't (we always listened). Most of the cafes and bars in town were also wired into the fire phone system so that they could pass the word to their fire-fighting customers. I think today's system is far superior to the old solution but not nearly as much fun.

    My '64 Buick had a speed buzzer and auto-dimming headlights. Features I loved. I would almost rather have the buzzer than cruise control today. I really wish my truck had auto-dimming headlights. I am really glad that it corners better and stops faster than my '64 Buick did though. Believe it or not, my 2000 Dodge 5.2L RAM gets about the same MPG as my '64 Buick did and, the '64 Buick had a 401 CID "Wildcat 445" engine and a 4bbl carb!

The solution of problems is the most characteristic and peculiar sort of voluntary thinking. -- William James

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