Back to the Anachronistic Technology
Last week I published an article on the predictions of future technology in Back to the Future Part 2, as well as current predictions for future technological devices. Today, I came across an article that also referred to the technology predictions in Back to the Future Part 2, but the writer of the article did this to point out some technological devices that have become extinct, in the lead up to the year that the movie was set in.
The writer in particular made the point that the kids of today will probably never remember or even be aware that these devices existed. The devices are–encyclopaedias, taping off the radio, cassette tapes, VCRs, the test pattern, black-and-white TVs, floppy disks and camera films. I decided to challenge myself in this article to see if I had fond memories of these technological devices.
In this article, when the writer was referring to encyclopaedias he meant the book version, not the online version that we’re all accustomed to. The writer claims that having a full set of book version encyclopaedias were exciting and would take up half a room–I can say that, that was true. My family use to have a full set of encyclopaedias and they looked so beautiful taking up a full shelf, I constantly read them and used them for assignments, even though there were 1989 versions.
I love listening to music, I currently listen to music everyday on my iPod shuffle, five years ago it was my MP3 player, ten years ago it was my CD player and twelve years ago it was my cassette player. When I had my cassette player, I would tape songs off the radio, it was a bit of pain, literally, to have to hold the play and record button at the same time and the quality of the recording was never guaranteed. The writer describes taping off the radio as “the earliest form of piracy”–that’s probably about right and these days, it would probably be regarded as the hardest form. I also have fond memories of listening to cassette tapes in my parents’ car and buying cassette tape albums, as well as making my own mix tapes. The only time you will see anything close to a cassette tape these days is on an iPhone cover.
My fondest technological memories as a kid would have to be with the family VCR. My parents had the first one for over ten years and the remote was a brick both in size and in weight. When I started high school (2003), my parents bought a VCR/DVD player, they bought another two before eventually replacing it with a DVD/Blu-Ray player. I have fond memories of the TV cabinet being filled with movies, taping my favourite TV shows on blank tapes and getting rid of the tab so they wouldn’t be taped over. I also had boxes filled with tapes of my favourite TV shows. As my family and I converted to DVDs, I eventually got rid of my tapes at the end of high school (2008), which meant a lot more room. I love the convenience of storing DVDs, however I do miss the VCR and my old tapes.
I only saw the test pattern on TV when there were technical difficulties, now with digital TV and 24-hour broadcasting, I can’t remember the last time that I saw it. Similarly, my parents never had a black-and-white TV in our house, the only time our TV is black-and-white is if we are watching black-and-white movies and when there are technical difficulties.
Before USB drives took the world by storm, I saved all my files either on CDs or floppy disks. When my parents bought our first computer that had internet in 2005, we at first would save our files on floppy disks and keep all the disks in boxes. According to the writer of the article, most floppy disks would hold a little over 1MB, which pales in comparison to today’s USB drives and hard drives which can hold Gigabytes and Terabytes.
Having camera films developed is probably the thing I miss the least. I loved it when I first learned how to use a digital camera in my teens. I loved that I could actually see the pictures before they were developed and even more, I loved that they could be deleted and you didn’t need to print them to have copies. I love the digital camera that my parents bought me for my 20th birthday (2010), that being said I do have fond memories of my brother and I taking heaps of disposable cameras with us to the Sydney Olympics (2000). I also have fond memories of having to remember to move the little crank to the next part of the film so I wasn’t taking two pictures on the same part of film.
I have always been a lover of technology, almost all kinds and I will always embrace new technologies, however I will always have a spot in my heart for technology of the past.
R.I.P. book version encyclopaedias, taping off the radio, cassette tapes, the VCR, the test pattern, black-and-white TVs, floppy disks and camera films.
This article was originally published on Tech Reviewer on 28 August 2014 and can be found here.