With vintage gadgets like vinyl record players getting more and more popular each year, there is no telling which piece of tech will make a modern resurgence. Even though gadgets are made obsolete by the latest developments, some people can’t help but miss the old-school gear they used to own.
From failed music formats like MiniDisc to home computers like the Commodore 64, tech may be gone, but it certainly isn’t forgotten by those who used it. Though almost every gadget is rendered obsolete eventually, users on Reddit logged on to recall the tech that they missed the most.
Gaming has made leaps and bounds in the last few decades, but many people miss the tactile and personal nature of older games. Citing one such example, user Sapharodon said “Tamagotchi are the best. Apparently they’re still big in Japan.”
The cute little pocket pets were all the rage for a brief moment in the late-’90s and early-’00s but were quickly abandoned for more intensive handheld games. While they are cumbersome and inefficient, many are nostalgic for them because they represent a simpler approach to entertainment and were a fun time for not much money.
The early days of home computers democratized what was originally only reserved for mathematicians and scientists, but they still required a fair amount of knowledge to operate. Waxing nostalgic for a home computer that is long gone, user fixnahole said “I’ve never had so much fun with computers as I did in my youth with my Commodore 64.”
Aside from its impressive 1980s computing power, many often forget that it was a video game console as well, and essentially helped to kick off the PC gaming trend. Unlike modern computers which feature a simple user interface, old computers like the Commodore line required users to possess a bit of knowledge to get the best out of it. This skill requirement linked users to their machines, and they often formed a closer connection to their tech.
While vinyl record players are an old-school device making a comeback, the resurgence of the audio cassette tape hasn’t quite been as meteoric. User Ashtronica2 remembered them well when saying “I miss cassette tapes and mixed tapes. There’s something magical about listening to a tape that a friend made specifically for you.”
Despite being cumbersome, the cassette audio tape had a tactile feeling that is highly sought after in today’s high-tech world. The user references mix tapes, and though they have been replaced by personalized playlists, the new iteration lacks the obvious commitment that it took to record a special tape for someone else. Nostalgia is the driving factor behind cassette tapes today, and their audio quality was far inferior to records or CDs.
Though they were less of a gadget and more of a hulking beast of a machine, the microfiche at libraries has mostly been digitized for the modern age. Lamenting the loss, user schmoopie313 wrote “I also really miss microfiche machines. I loved hanging out in my town’s library just browsing through old news articles on them.”
Microfiche was designed to replace stacks and stacks of paper documents, and it was ironically replaced by digital scans which take up even less space. Unfortunately, as with most digitizations, the personalized and tactile sensation of scrolling is lost in the modern age. Also, the digitization of old news articles has often locked them behind paywalls.
There is no doubt that people were more difficult to reach in the past, and the pager was designed as a remedy for that shortcoming. Explaining why they miss them, a deleted user said “I liked beepers. You know they tried to reach you, you can reply if you want, or you can excuse yourself that no phones were available.”
Nostalgia aside, it isn’t so much the technology that the user misses, and more so they miss a time when they were less accessible. Pagers were some of the first modern devices to encroach on our privacy, but they were not nearly as invasive as the proliferation of texts, emails, and instant messages. By comparison, pagers seem like a much nicer alternative to our ultra-connected modern world.
With physical video formats like Blu-ray being slowly phased out in favor of streaming, some people still look back fondly on its competitor, HD-DVD. Making a bold statement, user KillerBeeTX said “HD-DVD…So much better than Blu-ray, but Sony had more money to throw (and lose) in the fight.”
Physical media wars are essentially over, but many look back on the last battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray with fondness. Offering users a choice, HD-DVD was actually superior to Blu-ray in the beginning but was eventually usurped by Blu-ray’s massive improvements. Most don’t even remember HD-DVD but those that do look back on it as a piece of technology that should have been more popular than it was.
Now that every brand’s flagship cell phone is a modern marvel, it is easy to forget how far things have come in only a few short decades. Nostalgic for the not-too-distant past, user nicoliest_of_nicoles said “I miss being able to text without looking on those old Nokea phones. The feel of actual buttons.”
While most would rather never see the numeric keypad return ever again, it is yet another skill that has been replaced by more user-friendly text messaging. Smartphones have empowered users to do things they never could before, but they lack the tactile nature that many are nostalgic for. Actual buttons have been replaced by touch screens, and something has been lost in the shuffle.
Excluding vinyl records, physical media in music is practically dead and has been replaced by streaming. However, a deleted user mentioned a music format that was obsolete almost immediately when saying “I have a fondness for mini-disc. Shame they never really caught on in the US.”
Conceived as a mix between a floppy disc and a CD, the MiniDisc had all the audio quality of a CD but without the issue of fragility. They required less care and were therefore more portable, but the industry never took a liking to them and a lot of albums were never pressed onto the format. Though they failed to launch, the user isn’t the only person who laments what could have been for the ill-fated MiniDisc.
Apple products are always highly anticipated, and their innovation often spearheads the personal gadget market. Recalling one Apple product that they sorely miss, user sleepySQLgirl wrote “I miss my old iPod with the hard drive and clicky wheel. When that drive was spinning it felt substantial and real.”
One thing that is consistently missing in modern tech is a sense of physical connection to the device, and the original iPod was rewarding in its tactile nature. The rotary scroll feature made the user feel as if they were actually controlling the device manually, and the chunky weight made the user feel as if they purchased something that was built to last. Even if most smartphones can do so much more than an iPod could, they lack the purposefulness of the antiquated device.
The video cassette recorder revolutionized the film industry and brought the magic of the movies into people’s homes in a more consistent way than TV ever could. Speaking for many others, a deleted user said “No one owns a VCR anymore, which sucks because I have so many cool movies on video.”
By the time the VHS tape was finally the most affordable home video format, it was quickly phased out in favor of DVDs, and a massive shift in home video occurred quickly. Despite not being an analog medium, many hold VHSs in the same regard as analog formats like vinyl, and those who used them have a deep connection to the defunct media. Unfortunately, many hidden gems didn’t make the jump to newer formats, and VHS is the only way to experience them.
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