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Retro Tech by MKBHD A look at revolutionary tech that pre-dates the 90s

Week 116.0 — 13th January '20

I quite enjoyed the first season of Retro Tech by MKBHD, it was a good look back at pre-90s tech that really did change the way we experienced the world.

JVC GR-C1 Camcorder

First up was camcorders, although we had one growing up, it was rarely used. Getting the footage from camera to screen without editing was easy enough, but raw footage is never the best.

1984 Macintosh

Around 1999/2000 I remember seeing the first iMac, with a CRT screen and the hockey puck mouse in an art room. I just couldn't understand why Photoshop was effectively windowless and why the menus were so brutal in their design. I just couldn't get my head around the Mac. Fast forward through sixth form and University and as I began my career in web development I was forced to work with a newer model that had OS X. It took a day or two, but I was hooked.

I'd been a PC guy my whole life, slowly investing in my computer to improve it's specs and while I loved it, I never quite got the right environment to push myself as a web developer. in 2005, I bought my first Mac, an intel Mac Mini and that was that. It was easy to get going and I've been a Mac user ever since.

Sega Genesis

I was a Nintendo fan boy, I had the GameBoy and the NES, eventually a Wii and finally a 3DS. For me, Nintendo was a much bigger deal amongst my peers but I did know a few Sega users.

Gaming has exploded through my lifetime but I haven't kept up. My latest console is a PlayStation 3 and that's unlikely to be the case for a few more years yet.

The Sony Walkman

I coveted many Walkmans and it had to be a Sony one too. That and my boom-box were must haves in the late 80s and early 90s for entertainment. I had a portable CD player too but they just weren't convenient or reliable. Skipping was a real issue with them so they only really worked when resting on a desk.

The Polaroid Land Camera

My only real memory of Polaroid cameras as a kid is a bath toy I had that would develop 'photos' when wet. It was pretty cool but I was born in the era of 35mm film and getting your photos developed at a pharmacy. I still own a few film cameras and have a Konstructor camera that I need to put together.

Motorola DYNATAC phone

My first phone was a fraction of the size of the Motorola DYNATEC but wasn't any more advanced. Apart from Snake, perhaps.

Now our phones are more than just phones, they're personal computers.

Bonus episode: GameBoy

For me, it was the mobile gaming device for at least a decade. Sega had the Mega Drive and Sonic, but Tetris, Mario and Pokémon were the games I played for hours and hours.

Future Retro Tech

I have a few items I'd like to see featured, two from the late 90s/early 2000s and one that really fits the theme.

MiniDisc player

The MiniDisc format never really seemed to take off. They appeared in between the CD and MP3 eras so it's not really a surprise but they had the best of everything a Walkman offered, just in digital format.

I absolutely loved my MiniDisc player, but all of my content was recorded or converted manually. My local HMV only had a tiny selection of albums on the format but they were far more expensive.

Even being Neo's storage medium of choice in The Matrix couldn't save it.

MiniDiscs in The Matrix

DSLRs / digital cameras

Cameras may have been well covered, but the introduction of digital photography has upped everyone's game and now our phones are so close to dedicated cameras for photo quality.


Lastly, I'd put forward the mouse. Somewhat covered in the Macintosh episode, it's a device that changed how we interacted with computers. It deserves it's own episode given the number of iterations we've seen:

  • One button mouse
  • Hockey puck mouse
  • Two button mouse
  • Scroll wheels
  • Vertical mouse
  • Track pads
  • Wireless
  • Optical
  • Laser

And I'm sure there have been many others.

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Quick links and commentary on interesting articles, videos and more throughout the week.

  1. 116.1 – Monday
    1. GET LOST tee   DKK400 woodwood.com
    2. Wyoming: Images of the Equality State theatlantic.com
    3. 25 of the best anniversary kits to be worn on pitch soccerbible.com
  2. 116.2 – Tuesday
    1. Wood Wood x Mikkeller 'OUTRUN' tee   DKK400 woodwood.com
    2. Paper Sizes papersizes.io
  3. 116.3 – Wednesday
    1. African movie posters @Retr0Joe on twitter.com
    2. 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC AMG widebody coupe at auction coolmaterial.com
    3. Volcanoes 101 National Geographic on youtube.com
  4. 116.4 – Thursday
    1. Hot Ones The Gameshow @seanseaevans on twitter.com
  5. 116.5 – Friday
    1. Cyrcle Phone is round and has two headphone jacks bbc.co.uk
    2. There are only 10 types of movies @leesteffen on twitter.com
    3. Climate change food calculator bbc.co.uk
  6. 116.6 – Saturday
    1. How Gordon Murray made the McLaren F1 gq-magazine.co.uk
    2. New logo for Northern Ireland Tourism underconsideration.com

Jump to notable items for Week #115, Week #117 , view the notable archive or my favourites.

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