I was born in the 70s. I still have some gadgets of my college days that I don’t use. But the current generation is just unaware of them. Not that they need to know, I’m just trying to look back in to the past and imagining how much changes technology has brought into our lives. At least our kids will be amused by seeing the gadgets of the past.
Given below are some of them, hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did in recollecting the memory and writing it.
- Audio Cassettes:
Anyone remembers these? I still have a bunch of them in perfect condition. These analog devices had magnetic tape inside that recorded audio. Some of the famous companies that manufactured those cassettes were Sony, Phillips, TDK etc. They typically contained or capable of containing 30 or 45 minutes of audio per side. Sometime due to problem with audio cassette player mechanism the tapes were being pulled outside the the cassette and then we used to wind it back into the cassette by hand using a pen or pencil. They disappeared around the year 2000 after CD and DVDs came into market.
- Boom Box/Tape Recorder/Cassette Player:
These were one of the fashion statements of the 80s and 90s. There were different varieties of them, just a cassette player, 2-in-1 (Cassette player and Radio) then the ones that were bigger than normal and produced enough sound for an in-house party. Most of them were capable of recording sound on the audio cassettes too. There were some towards the end of their era that came with CD/DVD players in-built too. However, now a days personal music players are popular than such devices otherwise people prefer multi-channel high quality home theatre systems. Some of the popular companies producing them were Phillips, Panasonic, Sony etc.
- VCR & VCP:
These acronyms stand for Video Cassette Recorder & Video Cassette Player. As obvious from the name the VCP could only play a pre-recorded video cassette and the VCR could do both, play as well as record. I remember hiring those devices many times during my school and college days, to watch movies of Amitabh, Mithun etc. The picture and audio quality on these video cassettes were not very good, but there were nothing better available at that time too. Also there was no guarantee that the cassette that you took for watching a movie will work. CD & DVDs killed these devices too and for good.
Anyone remembers these? They were extremely popular in early 2000s. They were capable of receiving alphanumeric messages wirelessly. If you want to page someone, call the operator, give the person’s pager details and then the message, they would page the person the message that you gave. These were short lived and became obsolete after mobile phones came into market.
There were two types of floppies that I had used, 5.25″ and 3.5″. They were made available in the early 70s and were in use for quite long. Anyone has experienced one of those old computers that needed a 5.25″ floppy containing DOS to be put into it before switching on the machine? Once it boots up then remove the first floppy and insert another containing BASIC, to learn programming in BASIC. Even after PCs of Intel 486 CPU came into existence the most common OS for them was DOS that came in a few floppies. I had to use all those floppies one after the another to install DOS on that PC, the another set of floppies to install windows 3.1 on top of DOS; those were the early days of GUI. The one and the biggest problem with the floppies was that they were unreliable. You can save data in it but retrieval was NOT guaranteed. CDs killed them too.
Now a days we see people have earphones connected to their smart phones at all times. Some use iPods or other such personal music players. That was not the situation 30 years ago. Walkman which was originally a product of Sony was the only option for personal music player, it used to play the normal audio cassettes with magnetic tape in them. In today’s standards it was too big and bulky to be called ‘personal’ player. They were later manufactured by other companies too. Only the well heeled could afford one at that time.
- CRT Televisions:
These can still be seen at some places, particularly in some hotels. We had one during my childhood, the brand was ‘Konark’, it was Black & White only and required at least two adults to be lifted. It had collapsible wooden doors on the front in order to protect the CRT screen.
- Television Antenna:
The antenna that was sold with the CRT TVs had a story of their own. The antenna was a aluminium beam on which several aluminium loops were fitted across using bolts. Then there was a set of two devices called signal boosters, one was being covered with plastic bags to protect it from rain and fixed to the antenna staff and the other inside the house near the TV. Now there was a special type of wire connecting all the four. As if just installing the antenna and cables was not enough, you need to adjust the direction the antenna was pointing towards in order to get a watchable reception. My heart used to miss a beat or two whenever I saw the antenna bending like a fully stretched bow, in heavy wind; it mostly came back to normal after the wind stopped.
- Fountain Pen:
These are still there, but not in as large scale as in my childhood. Now a days these are probably used most for calligraphy. Inks of different colours were available in inkpots made up of glass. Pouring ink from the inkpots into the pens was an effort not less than spectacular. Fingers of school going children were always painted with ink, either from a leaking pen or from ink overflow while filling a pen.