If you're anything like us, every once in a while you lose an hour or two to watching vintage commercials and cartoons from your childhood on YouTube. We recently spent some time remembering our favorite technologies and gadgets from our youth. Check out our list, and share yours in the comments.
1. Dot Matrix Printers
We were at the airport recently and heard the familiar, not unwelcome screech of a dot matrix printer spitting out some lines of text. Yes, it's true; while they're not the at-home standard anymore, these printers have never really gone away. They're still found in hospitals, newsrooms, airports and libraries, all places that need workhorse printers. They work as a global standardization, and with no spooling time, extraordinarily cheap ink and continuous paper rolls, it's a safe bet they're not disappearing any time soon -- despite the amount of noise they make.
2. Cassette Tapes
"Sometimes when someone / Has a crush on you / They'll make you a mix tape / To give you a clue." Mixtapes are an art form, and one that endures to this day, with its adherents gathering online to share track lists and give props. But we prefer to remember its humbler beginnings, with a tween version of ourselves listening to the radio, tape queued, waiting for a specific song to come on so that we could capture it, eventually resulting in a cassette we'd listen to the entire summer before high school began.
3. Tiger Talkboy Tape Recorder from Home Alone
Forget Macaulay Culkin, the real star of the Home Alone was the tape recorder he uses to foil the burglars who try to break into his house. Known as the "Talkboy", it had an extendable microphone, a hand strap and variable playback speed. There was even a pink "Talkgirl" version, though any kid worth their salt wanted the original, which was originally a non-working prop but was produced commercially after a letter-writing campaign by children.
4. Floppy Discs (and games)
Today, the idea of a magnetic storage disk in plastic is surprisingly fragile, but from 1971 to the late 1990s, the floppy disk was the easiest way to transfer data between devices. And what data were we transferring? Games! From Oregon Trail to Lemmings to Zork, games were our first introduction to really loving all that technology could do. If you're feeling nostalgic, and who isn't, check out this free DOS games archive.
5. Fisher Price record player
Whether you remember the young kids' version of the record player, which acted like a wind-up music box and played nursery rhymes, or you had an older kids' version which, while made of colorful plastic, played actual records, you were probably in love. Fischer-Price has released a new version ($21.40, Amazon) of this toy, although it is all electronic and requires batteries. Originals go for $30+ on eBay.
What are your personal top 5 favorites? Let us know, and we'll do a reader favorites roundup!