Now more than ever, our society is saturated with cutting-edge technology. Our jobs, cars, and homes are filled with smart devices and sensors that keep everyone and everything connected. While this isn’t always a bad thing, it can over-complicate our day-to-day lives.
Being constantly plugged into our technology has caused us to become stressed out and tired. Rather than making our lives easier or more convenient, our devices are making our lives more complex and more difficult. As “smart” home devices continue to take over the consumer electronics industry, it seems that things are only going to get worse.
But, there is hope. We can take back our lives, old school style. By embracing the technologies of old, we can revisit what it was like to live in a simpler time.
Down with the touchscreens! Screw the smartphones! To heck with high-speed internet! On second thought, maybe high-speed internet isn’t so bad. No matter, I think that we could all benefit from taking a look back at the many devices that once simplified our lives.
Unlike modern computers, typewriters can’t be hacked. They also won’t crash due to an electrical surge or software glitch. And best of all, typewriters are both easy and satisfying to use. Their keys click with every stroke, and nothing beats the feeling of taking out a freshly inked page from the tray.
Plus, these things were built to last. My old school typewriter still works like a charm. It was an old 1992 Smith Corona typewriter purchased from Kmart, but it still gets the job done without any fuss. All it required was the occasional ribbon change for a few dollars a pop. Sure beats dropping fifty bucks on printer ink, doesn’t it?
The Nintendo-64, Dreamcast, or PlayStation
The video game consoles of the 1990s were the best. Before the days of eSports or massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), these 64-bit systems kept us entertained for ages. Instead of throwing on a headset and chatting with a stranger somewhere across the world, we would go head-to-head with whoever was sitting next to us on the couch.
These consoles truly defined the “Golden Era” of video gaming. Not only was it more enjoyable to simply kick back and relax with your buddies in your living room, but the games were simply better too. In those days, game developers pushed the envelope by innovating in whatever way they could. This brought us classic series like the Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil, and Final Fantasy.
Electric Word Processors
Before the miracle of spell check, there were stand-alone word processors. Machines like the Xerox 6016 Memorywriter were essentially small computers that could run very basic software on them. In most cases, they were small enough to drag to class or to work. These tiny computers made it easy to type essays and papers without having to buy new ribbons or ink.
Electronic word processors could save documents onto floppy disks (remember those?) so that they could be retrieved later. This made writing text way more convenient than typewriters, and without the distractions of Internet-connected modern laptop computers. Imagine being able to type in class without being tempted to check Facebook along the way?
The HP-10B was a business calculator designed by HP in the 1980s. This thing was a beast of a machine. Not only would it last a lifetime (or so it seemed), but they simply felt great in your hands. Nowadays many of us use our laptops or smartphones to make calculations. But premium calculators like the HP-10B made calculating a stress-free experience long before the advent of the cell phone.
Buttons and Knobs
Yup, you read that correctly. There will forever be a place in my heart for good old-fashioned knobs and buttons. These days, car stereos and remote controls are loaded with touch screens and other finicky sensors. But back in the day, you could reach for a radio knob and easily adjust the settings while you drove without having to look at the center console.
The iPod Classic
Like the iPod Nano, the iPod Classic was a tank. The Classic was the original iPod that first released in 2001. Eventually, Apple discontinued the line in 2014. These iPods had one sole purpose: to playback an endless amount of music. While most modern MP3 players were restricted to 8GB of storage, iPod Classics could hold as much as 160GB.
The ability to store hundreds of thousands of high-quality MP3s was unique to the iPod Classic. There was simply no other unit that had the same capability. These days, streaming services have taken over the market and have rendered MP3 players mostly obsolete. However, there is still something to be said about the simplicity and permanence of a premium MP3 player.
Back when you didn’t have access to six gazillion high definition TV channels, you had basic cable. This service was provided through a simple auxiliary cord that plugged into the back of your screen. This made the setup experience nice and easy. By comparison, modern cable boxes can take hours to install and update with the required software.
The Flip Phone
The old school meaning of “cell phone” is different from today’s. Whereas in the past your cell phone was a clunky version of your corded house phone, today’s cell phones are much more than that. In fact, your average smartphone is more powerful than most high-end computers were only a decade ago.
All of the old school technologies of the past were “dumb” by modern standards. This means they were unable to connect to networks via wireless protocols. Imagine that—a world with no Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 4G, or any other modern conveniences. Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it?
The classic flip phones like the Motorola Razr and the Sony Ericsson Z520, both of which launched in the mid-2000s, still hold up by modern standards. When it comes to texting and calling, nothing beat them in those days. And for those of us who do not want the hassle of modern apps, these “dumbphones” make for an excellent alternative.
You can’t talk about retro phones without talking about the BlackBerry. Produced by Canada’s Research in Motion (RiM), the original BlackBerry first released in 1999. These phones were powerhouses compared to the standard at the time. Plus, they revolutionized mobile security by providing extra encryption to protect their users’ communications.
The BlackBerry helped make cell phones what they are today. When they first entered the market, the mobile phone industry was exclusively focused on devices that only made phone calls. However, the BlackBerry became the “business man’s phone” by making SMS text messaging and emailing a standard feature of the cell phone.
The Concorde was the world’s first commercial turbojet-powered supersonic passenger aircraft. Developed by British and French industry leaders, the Concorde made transatlantic flights in as little as 3 hours—less than half that of standard jets. Since the Concorde flew at a cruising speed of roughly twice the sound barrier, it set a new standard in commercial aviation.
From 1976 until 2003, the Concorde flew between the northeast United States and western Europe. Unfortunately, the Concorde was held back by its exorbitant price-tag, which caused ticket prices to exceed what most were willing to pay. Tragically, a major disaster in 2003 caused a Concorde aircraft to crash in France. As a result, the Concorde was retired later that year.
For old school gamers, Snake is one of the original video games. Dating back to the arcades of the 1970s, many iterations of Snake have been released for home and mobile consoles. In this game, the player controls a moving line which gradually increases in length. Given the small space the player has to maneuver it, the line itself becomes an obstacle.
Many of us are familiar with this simple little game because it was preloaded on BlackBerry and Nokia cell phones in the 2000s. As soon as you removed the phone from its box, you could always count on Snake to be ready to play. Plus, it was super easy to play and wasn’t nearly as frustrating as modern mobile games like Flappy Bird.
With the resurgence of board game cafes, plain old tabletop games have once again risen in popularity. However, we still get nostalgic about our favorite childhood memories crowded around the living room table with our family and friends. Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, and the Game of Life are some of the all-time classics that still hold a special place in our hearts.
Thanks to the rise of mobile digital gaming, board games are not as commonplace as they used to be. We think that we could all benefit from busting out our old board games from time to time. Not only do they encourage us to socialize and enjoy each other’s company, but they are loads of fun too.