The Retro Technology of Tomorrow

Last year, someone took a bulky old-style phone and made a cell-phone headset out of it. It was at once the dorkiest and coolest headset around and understandably a big hit online. This is not an isolated case. At Radio Shack, you can now buy modern phones that look so old-fashioned you'll feel like you're in the middle of "His Girl Friday." Revamped Beetles and Mini-Coopers are all over our roadways. Even Atari games are back in vogue. It seems that we all like our technology to be a little retro. Here then are some suggestions for the future of retro technology. 
USB Typewriters -- I know there are many who miss typewriters. While I can't imagine writing something from scratch on one of those monstrosities, I have to admit that there is something cool about the clickety-clack of an old typewriter. Soon, I predict that someone will build a USB typewriter. It would simply be an old-fashioned typewriter hooked up to the USB port on your computer; everything you typed on it would show up on your monitor instead of on paper. The fedora, of course, would be sold separately. There's just one problem -- figuring out how to add the Control-Alt-Delete buttons.

Digital cash registers that go CHA-CHING -- There was something wonderfully final about that noise, and it sure beats the hell out of a bar code reader beeping. Why not bring it back? One friend also suggested that it might be nice to have cashiers who could actually make change on their own, but that's another story.

Toaster ovens with a dial -- I used to have one, but it broke, and I am now officially too dumb to use my brand-new all-digital toaster oven. Instead of turning two dials to cook a frozen pizza, I now have to:

  1. hit the start button,
  2. push the plus or minus button to choose the temperature,
  3. wait for the oven to preheat,
  4. put my pizza in the oven when the toaster oven beeps twice -- only when it beeps twice, not when it beeps once, because apparently that means something entirely different,
  5. hit the timer button,
  6. hit the minus button to move the timer down from two hours, at which it is automatically set, and finally
  7. hit the start button again.

It also beeps at me whenever I leave the room, not stopping until I come back and hit some button, any button. It's like a baby. I can hear it cry, but sometimes I have no idea why.

Oh, a microwave with a dial might be kind of cool as well. I'd want mine to say, "increase radiation."

Floppy disks that actually flop - Actually, I don't really miss the big floppy disks, though I do miss regular disk drives on computers. Everyone I know who buys a new computer now has the same problem. How do you easily transfer files from your old computer with a disk drive and not much else to your new computer with just about everything but a disk drive?

Telegrams -- Just once, I would like to receive a telegram. You know, I'd be sitting at my desk, and suddenly this Western Union guy from the fifties would show up with an urgent message. It could be anything from "We need your help for a matter of national security." to "Hey, could you pick up some eggs on the way home?"   

In these days of instant communication, does anyone even send telegrams anymore -- well, aside from the kind in which the deliverer strips during delivery? I suspect that if I called up Western Union and asked to send a telegram, they wouldn't even know what to do. "Are you sure you don't just want to send some cash instead?"

At the very least, maybe we could rig some instant messaging software to insert a "STOP" at the end of every message: "lol STOP. brb STOP."

Televisions that double as furniture - Sure, I wouldn't want to move one, but there was something stately about those old television cabinets that used to sit on the floor. With flat-screen televisions so prevalent, I'm surprised that someone hasn't created a lightweight cabinet/television.

Incidentally, in their basement, my parents used to have an old television like that, in which only the green color tube worked. Everyone should have this option. Let's just say that there are many television shows that are greatly enhanced when all their characters happen to be entirely green.

Reel-to-Reel Tape Players - Actually, scratch that. I just bought a new iPod last week. I may like reel-to-reel audio, record players, and even personal cassette players, but there's no way I'm giving up my iPod. Occasionally, progress is good.


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