Technology: The Early Years

by Kristie LeVangie

I’m currently trying to simplify the house and clear some of the clutter accumulated after years upon years of adulthood.  And then last night, as I stared at the two blank Memorex cassette tapes on my desk, I was struck with the realization that there a whole world of technology that my children will never know– a whole world of technology that led to smartphones, iPods and laptops.

1.  The 8-Track

The first car I can remember my mother owning had an 8-track player.  She would listen to folk music like Carole King, James Taylor, and yes, even Crosby, Stills & Nash.

2. The Typewriter


I remember my senior thesis in college being a disaster area of White-out, ink ribbons, and torn pages.

3. Rotary Phone

Calling Grandma used to take sooooo long as I waited for the dial to return after each number.

4.  The Walkman

I got my first one in the 4th grade.  I thought I was so cool.  My world was opened to the mix tape.

5. The ColecoVision System

Before Xbox or Playstation was even a thought, there was Pong.

6. The VHS Tape

We used to get charged fines for not rewinding these before taking them back to the local video store, and sometimes, the VCR actually ate the tape.

7.  The Polaroid


Teens may dance to lyrics telling them to “shake it like a Polaroid picture”, but few have actually had this experience.

8. The Car Phone

I remember one of my first bosses having to lug around this suitcase-type thing that she finally explained was her “new” phone.

9.  The Record Player

I used to have the coolest Cyndi Lauper album that had her picture imprinted on the vinyl.  I still own about 300 records. My kids simply don’t get it.

10.  The Boombox

Who didn’t bob their head with one of these on their shoulder in the 80s? Now, you just Bluetooth in to the nearest speaker.

11. The Dial Only Television

In a time long, long ago, we actually had to get up off the couch to select between the 3 channels that actually came in when you adjusted the antenna just right.

12.  The 35mm Camera

Remember all the rules that came with these things?  You couldn’t expose the film to light, had to develop it before it went bad, had to wait to see if the exposure was good once you got them back from your local drug store, and often lost entire moments to film that wouldn’t manually rewind correctly.

13.  The Watch

With everything moving digital, telling time by the hand positions on a watch face is a skill set for extinction.

14.  The Calculator

Remember when you actually knew and used the M and MR buttons?  Now, nearly any smartphone is a calculator.

15.  Pagers

I had my first pager in my early 20s.  I was a baller…who had to run to the pay phone at each beep.

16. The Pay Phone

Yes.  They used to be in booths and cost a dime to a quarter for local calls.

17. Carbon Copies

Yes, before you could choose the number of copies to print from your computer, we used to write on a special paper that would make duplicates.

18.  Floppy Discs

There was a time long ago before flash drives when we used to carry around our floppy disks.  In 1984, they could hold up to 1.2 MB.

19.  CB Radios

I used to play around on Grandpa’s CB.  I would talk to truckers at the age of 6 under the name “Disco Queen.”  No wonder about my mouth.

20.  Credit Card Slips

Back before you could slide a credit card on your smartphone, they had these machines where you would imprint the card numbers into the receipt that the store clerk filled out by hand.

What didn’t make my list that would have made yours?


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