After 20 years, Apple announced it would discontinue the production of its iPod, the company’s famed music device globally. Created in the early 2000s, the iPod was the premium accessory of choice for music lovers. Millennials will quickly recognize the colorful and loud TV commercials that advertised the first iPod.
Apple’s decision to discontinue the iPod is not surprising, though. If anything, it reminds us once again that technology is constantly evolving, and we always need to keep up with its advancements. In the past, gadgets such as Walkmans, Gameboys, and Tamagotchis dominated our entertainment needs. Depending on the technology you used or are used to, one can easily guess your age. This fun tech age quiz might even reveal your technological age and whether it lines up with your biological age.
Fancy yourself as someone in the know of all the gadgets from the past? We take a look at some of the most influential inventions of yesteryear and how they’ve influenced and shaped the tech world as we know it today.
1. Walkmans and Discmans
Love Spotify, Apple Music, or Tidal? Then you’ve got to thank Sony for their invention of the Walkmans and Discmans. These small devices have undoubtedly inspired the rise of MP3 players, iPods, and other portable music players, changing how we enjoy music today.
The Walkman and Discman were invented in the early 80s, allowing people to play cassette tapes and Compact Discs (CDs). When they first came out, both gadgets revolutionized how people listened to music. The release of the Discman also contributed to higher sales of CDs. The CD industry went on to experience a sudden growth in the number of titles available, with more artists wanting to create CDs to meet the demands of consumers.
These days, many of us turn to music streaming services to listen to music, podcasts, and more. Some streaming services, like Tidal, place a lot of importance on sound quality and attempt to emulate the sound quality that CDs and vinyl records produce. While streaming services dominate the market now, these innovations would not have existed if Walkmans and Discmans didn’t exist first.
Tamagotchis are handheld digital devices that allow users to keep virtual pets. These tiny devices (less than palm-size) were among the most popular and in-demand toys of the late 90s and early 2000s. According to Bandai, the company that manufactured these egg-shaped toys, over 83 million units of Tamagotchis have been sold worldwide.
Anyone who has ever owned a Tamagotchi before can attest to how difficult it can be to keep up with the pet. Still, they were extremely popular, and teenagers would often bring them everywhere they went, including to school.
While they’re not as readily available in stores as before, Tamagotchis are still available for purchase on Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy. Tamagotchis have, without doubt, played a part in the popularity of the simulation and augmented reality gaming genre. Many games we love now, like Animal Crossing, Pokémon, and Neko Atsume, are reminiscent of Tamagotchis and employ the whole concept of taking care of something.
3. Floppy Disks
Floppy disks were the storage device of choice for teenagers looking to hand in school assignments in the past. These days, they’ve moved on to cloud computing and submitting everything through platforms like Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive.
Made of a thin and flexible magnetic storage component and squarish plastic enclosure, floppy disks were usually colorful and about the size of your palm. The first floppy disk was created by IBM and had a diameter of about eight inches. Subsequently, these storage devices shrank in size.
While they were easy to use, floppy disks did not have impressive storage capacity. On average, they possessed about 1.44 MB of storage space. They were also really flimsy and were prone to damage.
4. Game Boy
When this 8-bit handheld game console from Nintendo was released, it shook up the gaming industry. Released in the late 80s in Japan, the Game Boy provided a fuss-free gaming experience with just five game control buttons, an adjustable speaker, and a contrast dial.
The Game Boy was sold either as a standalone product or bundled together with games like Super Mario and Tetris during its launch. Like other handheld gaming devices of its time, players needed to purchase different cartridges for the games they wanted.
Needless to say, the Game Boy has paved the way for portable gaming. Nintendo had gone on to produce items like the DS, 3DS, and Switch, which were all gaming fan favorites when they were released. During the pandemic, Nintendo saw the sale of its Switch console skyrocket as more people stayed home, cementing the belief that portable gaming is here to stay.
A staple on family vacations and festive holidays in the past, camcorders have been making a comeback. Influencers like Kylie Jenner, Emma Chamberlain, and Maddie Dragsbaek, have all started using camcorders again to record content for various social media platforms, despite being of a different generation.
Sony was responsible for releasing the first-ever camcorder in the early 80s for professional use. Soon after, brands like JVC hopped on board the trend and produced handheld camcorders that could be used at a consumer level.
While these devices have been phased out, our obsession with camcorders and the sort of effect they lend to our footage hasn’t really gone away. These days, many smartphone photos and video apps have filters that mimic the effect these vintage camcorders and 35mm cameras make, and they’re popular on social media.
Like Apple’s iPod, most of the devices we’ve shared above have ceased production. Still, they’ve all brought immeasurable value to our lives and inspired a slew of gadgets that have improved our lives that much more. Looking back, it’s obvious that technology will continue to evolve, and it’s important that we keep up with its developments if we want to stay relevant.