The world is filled with gadgets—and it has been for a long time. Some tech gadgets have stood the test of time, but others have long been forgotten. Some things that were commonplace only a decade ago are relics today.
Some old gadgets—such as the Gameboy or iPod—are still remembered fondly. However, many only saw a brief period of popularity. You’ve probably forgotten about a lot of gadgets, so let’s refresh that memory.
Tiger Electronics Handheld Games
When the Gameboy was the hottest thing around, everyone wanted a piece of the handheld gaming pie. Tiger Electronics produced tons of plastic handheld gaming devices that featured monochrome LCD screens and only one game—no cartridges. They were cheap, simple games, and, surprisingly, you can still buy them.
There was a time when you could reach anyone anywhere—you just couldn’t necessarily talk to them. Pagers—or “beepers”—were commonly used as a way to tell someone to call you. Small messages could be sent back and forth, but they were primarily a way to get someone’s attention so you could talk to them in a different way. Pretty weird to think about now.
The trusty computer mouse hasn’t gone anywhere, but it has changed quite a bit since the first one. Mice used to have trackballs that would roll around in a cage under the mouse, translating movement to the cursor on the screen. They were finicky and needed to be cleaned occasionally. The modern laser mice are much nicer.
If you’re of a certain age, you probably have memories of an overhead projector being wheeled out on a cart in school. They used light to project transparent slides and handwriting with markers into larger images. The light source is below the transparent film, and it shines onto a mirror and lens, which is angled toward the wall. Nowadays, we use digital projectors connected to computer displays.
A car phone is exactly what it sounds like—a phone wired into a car. There was a time when car phones and mobile phones existed side-by-side…but car phones were more popular. Mobile phones were big and clunky, but having a phone you could use while driving made sense. Nowadays, we all have phones we can use while driving—and everywhere else.
Also, you should watch this video.
Phone Shoulder Rest
Speaking of phones, remember landlines? You probably do, but there was a whole world of accessories around them, too. For long calls, holding the phone to your ear got tiring. Naturally, you’d try to use your shoulder to hold it up, but that wasn’t great either. Enter the “shoulder rest”—a piece of plastic that made it more ergonomic to hold a phone with your shoulder. You can still buy one.
Before Wi-Fi and cheap smart plugs and light bulbs, home automation required a lot more creativity. “The Clapper” was a device turned things on and off with the clap of your hands. It plugged into an outlet, then you plugged something like a lamp into it, and when it detected a loud noise—like a clap—it would switch on or off. Sound cool? The Clapper still exists today, surprisingly.
The year was 1992. Macaulay Culkin was starring in Home Alone 2, the sequel to the immensely popular original. In the movie, he uses a super cool toy that can record audio and apply effects to it. That toy was the Talkboy Deluxe, and it was a real product that was in high demand during the 1993 Holiday season. Nowadays, it could be replicated with a phone app.
You probably remember compact discs (CD), as they became the primary music distribution medium in the 90s and 2000s—but have since been surpassed by vinyl. However, a big part of CDs was “burning” your own. It was a big deal to have a computer with a CD-ROM drive that could burn—write—songs to a CD. It was the modern equivalent of cassette mix tapes.
You might not have forgotten about every single one of these gadgets—maybe you even still use some of them. For most people, though, these gadgets have long been replaced. It’s fun to remember what we don’t need anymore.