Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1970s vs. 2010

I came across an interesting web page today that highlights the top gadgets of the 1970s (http://www.techvert.com/hottest-gadgets-of-the-1970s/). While it brought back tender, nostalgic memories of when as a young boy/teenager I longed for these items, I couldn't help but think that despite the nearly 30-40 years that have passed since these items were the hottest must haves; how we are all still longing for virtually the same items today. Yes there are no original ideas, just the evolution of the object. Here's my take on their list:

  1. 1970 the color television – I remember getting our first color TV around 1975. Yes most of my friends had them a few years earlier. So is that any different then people longing for 50+ inch flat panel HD TV or perhaps the last evolution to 3D TV?
  2. 1972 Home LP Recorder – I remember getting a tape cassette player for my birthday in 1971 and using the microphone to record songs from the radio so I could listen to them when I wanted to or even placing it next to the Hi-Fi to record my records. I only wish I had this devise (OK I got something similar to it around 1974 but it recorded to 8 track). Yes the introduction of MP3 players have made the downloading and portability of music easier, but who is out there that doesn't long for the latest iPod or better yet a iPod that can record mp3 as well ... hmmmm
  3. 1973 A Telephone – yes hard to believe that back in early 70s less than ½ of Americans had a telephone in their homes. At the cottage we had a party line, where several families in different houses had the same phone number. Even in the early 80s while at university a number of my friends couldn’t afford a phone in their apartments. So while we jump to 2010 and the number of phones in the USA out numbers the number of people, the long lines last week as millions scrambled to obtain a fourth generation iPhone clearly demonstrate that nothing has changed here. Yes relatively speaking the cost of ownership of a phone has come down, but the desire to possess one hasn’t.
  4. 1974 Electronic Calculator - Oh how I remember these and how you weren't allowed to use them for exams, yet a mere 6 years later just as I was wrapping up high-school you were required to bring a scientific electronic calculator to your physics and chemistry exams. Yes the electronic device put an end to all the geeky students carrying around their slide-rules and instead they strapped on a calculator.
  5. 1975 Household Freezer – OK here they got me (sort of), as home appliances go and as eating habits have changed, this might not be the latest must have for the home. Yet, the number of homes tossing out perfectly good home appliances to only replace them with stainless steel versions or the latest "hot" must have item for upscale home of cappuccino/espresso machine perhaps nothing has really changed here
  6. 1977 Atari 2600 – this one is easy. Anyone with kids knows that this has simply been upgraded to a PS3, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo DS, DSi etc....
  7. Apple II Computer – Oh give me something difficult, can you say Ipad? It’s nice to see that Apple is still making many people’s mouths water for their latest creation

So as we can all clearly see, the Last Original Idea (LOI) happened long ago and that this is especially true when it comes to household items. We only need to think back how we moved from rocks and sticks at a stream, to washboards & tubs, to washing machines to high-efficient front-end loading machines etc.

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