#TBT: 10 Old Tech We Sorely Missed
Another fun and exciting year of tech is coming to a close and it’s amazing how gadgets have evolved to adapt to our needs. Yet somehow, there are a few devices/services that just don’t fail to put a smile on our faces whenever we remember them, particularly to those who lived through the 80’s and 90’s era.
Pager, or beeper as some would coin it, was an alternative way to communicate in the past. Pagers were available in two flavors; one-way pagers can only receive message, while response or two-way pagers can both receive and transmit messages. In its earlier versions, a telephone was needed to confirm sending and receiving messages back then.
2) Party Line
Back in the days when private phone lines were limited to the rich and famous, majority of the people opted for the more wallet-friendly Party Line service. It does, however, have some major drawbacks (especially privacy) and was used by nosy kids to pull a prank on their neighbor (dialing their own phone number and hanging up).
3) Collect Calls
The introduction and steady rise of cellular phones and VoIP services has slowly made phone services like Call Collect obsolete. For the uninitiated, Call Collect is a reverse charge service wherein the person receiving the call will be charged for the call instead of the person placing the call.
4) Mixed Tape
Unlike today, music lovers in the past have to be a little bit creative in compiling all of their favorite songs and putting all of them in a single source or what is commonly known as a Mixtape. But despite of the fact that cassette tapes have become a thing of the past and millions of songs are readily available through music streaming services, the process of creating a Mixtape, whether in the form of a digital playlist or by burning it in to a CD, still lives on today.
5) Trackball Mouse
From its military used as far back as the 1940’s, the trackball has undoubtedly changed the way we interact with our computing devices. Think of it as an upside-down mechanical mouse with the ball exposed on top. Instead of moving the whole device, only the ball is wheeled into X and Y axes with the thumb, fingers, or the palm of the hand to move the cursor on screen.
The debut of optical and laser mice was a huge blow for the popularity of Trackball in the consumer market, but it has made its way to other devices like some of the older Blackberry handsets.
6) Dot Matrix Printers
Before inks became the norm, there were ribbons. Dot Matrix Printers were the predecessors to the digital printers of today. They are computer-operated machines which use a print head that moves back and forth, or in an up and down motion, on the page and prints by impact. As the name goes, the printer only produces dots to achieve graphics and text on paper. Think of it as an automated typewriter.
7) Electronic Typewriter
Speaking of typewriters, who wouldn’t remember them? Electronic typewriters have been a staple before the popularity of computers. Some of these machines are equipped with a plastic or metal daisy wheel mechanism, a disk with the letters molded on the outside edge of the “petals” that impact on the paper when a key is pressed.
The coolest thing about them is that you type a whole sentence, press enter, and the whole line is printed out in one swoop. There’s also the option to actually delete or erase the print-outs (the typewriter memorizes the letters and a white marker over-writes on top of them just like White-Out).
8) Calculator Watch
Before the advent of smartwatches, one of the more successful attempts at incorporating other features on watches is adding calculator functions which gave birth to the Calculator Watch. Pulsar and Hewlett-Packard were the first to introduce the calculator-infused timepieces back in the 70’s, but it was Casio who put the Calculator Watches on the map.
If you’re 90’s kid, then you’ve most likely wished for a Tamagotchi for your birthday or as a stocking stuffer for Christmas. Luckily, if you still haven’t had enough of taking care of virtual pets, or you want your kids to experience the fun of owning, Bandai is still selling a new and improved Tamagotchi Friends which we featured late last year.
10) iOmega Drive
Rounding up this list is a portable storage medium in the 90s. The iOmega drive was a ZIP drive superfloppy — a variation of the floppy drive. It boasted 100 MB, later 250 MB, and then 750 MB amounts of storage. Though it never reached the popularity of the 3.5-inch floppy drives, it was the most popular of all superfloppy media produced.
Have you used these devices before? Share with us your experiences at the comments section below.
Carl Lamiel contributed to this article.