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User Input: Shiny New Toys

Shiny New Toys


A few days ago TechieInHell ran a post about newer consumer products with built-in and non-accessible batteries, which got me thinking about waste and planned obsolescence. It seems no sooner do you buy something than it becomes “no longer supported” and replaced by an even newer version. It’s enough to drive you mad.

“That phone is old…” said the girl at the wireless store, a few years ago when I went in for an extended battery.

“I JUST bought it!” I replied, miffed.

“Yeah, but we don’t even support Q’s anymore… you might try the internet”

Now, some of us love to have the latest and greatest in gadget technology, while others prefer to wait and purchase higher quality “keeper” items they plan to use and keep around for a good long-long time.

I tend to fall in the latter category, and in spite of numerous “discussions” with the wife, I refused to trade in my old cell phone that worked perfectly well for years and years, until it accidentally got run over while trying to escape a field service van, piloted by an insane cousin of the devil himself. I’ve got a new Droid now, but only because the keyboard on my Motorola Q only worked half the time, and I wasn’t able to charge it via the factory cable anymore. And then the display died.

Once upon a time I too had to have the latest gadget. But I quickly tired of wasting money on things that were only cool for a few months at best, and began to realize that some of the best technology was stuff that still works well years, or even decades later. To me, if it’s good enough to buy, it’s good enough to keep.

Case in point; Our stereo system – one of the best in its day, the core of which dates back to the ‘70s and speakers that date back to the late 60s. It keeps working, it sounds great, and I keep using it every single day. Our kitchen has a 1970’s microwave I borrowed out of the old RV, while the brand new Stainless Steel one sits dead in the garage 3 days after the warranty expired.

Even the wife’s designer toaster has computerized LEDs and setting on the front, yet stopped working worth a crap days after bringing it home. The difference between warm & smoke is the slightest touch on the plastic dial, while my mom has an awesome old Westinghouse toaster like the one she’s used since she was a kid. Progress is not always all it is cracked up to be.

As perfect as you make it

Glorious side-opening toaster

This got me thinking, just how many “old-tech” items are still out there, essentially un-revised or improved from the day they hit the market? Or has everything under the sun been redesigned to death?

And what is the oldest piece of technology you still use on a daily basis?

  • Alff

    The oldest piece of "tech" I use daily are my home's 50-some year old toilets. While the bathrooms have been renovated around them, I just couldn't part with the superior performance of the large gpf water wasters.

    • SSurfer321

      I've recently relocated and am apartment dwelling for a year or so before house shopping. The apartment complex just went through and installed "low-flow" toilets/shower heads/faucets in all of the units. While I appreciate their utility cost environmental concern, sometimes you need the gpf to get the job done.

      • P161911

        The shower head and faucets can be "fixed" relatively easily, just pop out the washer. I know guys that travel a lot and they keep a wrench in their suitcase to fix hotel/motel showers.

    • P161911

      Having spent a little time in the plumbing/toilet industry, working for a toilet manufacturer (yes, it was a crappy job), it depends on if you get a toilet designed for a low flow flush or an old one that was just converted. The new designs work ALMOST as good as the old 5 GPF models. If you have one of the converted designs, keep a plunger handy.

      • Alff

        At the risk of being indelicate, I need the most robust equipment available to me.

        • ptschett

          That's what she said.

      • SSurfer321

        The one installed gets the job done, but doesn't thoroughly rinse the bowl; resulting in frequent manual cleaning.

  • SSurfer321

    The oldest piece of tech I own is my current PC. Built back in the early 2000's. I am only now considering replacing it with a laptop.

    • My old PC that a buddy showed me how to build in 2000 just recently broke. It doesn't recognize the mouse or keyboard anymore, so I guess it needs a new motherboard. Not worth fixing, I guess.

  • The oldest of my "tech" gadgets date back to mid-2000's, so I will go with my coffee maker. It works, every day, like a champ. It hails from a friend who bought it in the late-90's. He let me have it, and he bought a new coffee maker. That coffee maker broke, and he got a new coffee maker. That one made terrible coffee so he got yet another one. Sure, its not "vintage" old, but it works, day in and day out, brewing awesome coffee that makes me feel awesome.

  • P161911

    I have a couple of pocket knives from the late 1990s. While not used on a daily basis, I have all of my Grandfather's old Craftsman tools dating from the late 1930's to the late 1970s. I also use my grandmother's waffle iron to make waffles, it doesn't have cloth insulation on the wires, so I'm guessing it dates from somewhere between 1950 and 1970 or so.

    My big screen TV is about 9 years old. It is sort of an oddball, a 1080i HD ready 4:3 ratio 53" projection screen Hitachi. When I bought it there was very little being broadcast in widescreen, so the 4:3 made more sense. It doesn't even have HDMI connectors, which is getting to be a pain. I actually repaired the TV a couple of months ago.

  • The oldest piece of tech I use on a daily basis is the balloon tire. It dates back to 1889.

    • Alan Smith

      I'm surprised it still holds air.

    • P161911

      They haven't dry rotted by now?

  • tiberiusẅisë

    Ace Hard Rubber comb. At 42, that's more and more impressive.

  • chrystlubitshi

    super nintendo. i bought it with my own lawn-mowing money a couple of months after it came out. still works, still love it.

    • TechieInHell

      My SNES is still at my parents house, relegated to the use of grandchildren mostly. Thing just keeps on going like the day I pulled it out from under the tree. It's one of the reasons I used the SNES back in October's post about tech that just won't die.

  • tonyola

    I still have a bunch of synthesizers and samplers as old as 23 years. Unlike a lot of high tech, synths don't really go out of date and they have some unique sound characteristics that just can't be duplicated. My Mackie mixer is about 14 years old. My microwave oven is probably 20 years old.

  • I have a ca 1932 pocket watch I got as a gift. It currently is in need of repair, but I carried it daily for many years. I have another one that is a family heirloom. It is from the late 1800's and is still functional, but I have never carried it on a regular basis.

  • skitter

    Looking around, I have a lot of old tech made with advanced materials. Microfiber shirt, memory foam mattress, stainless steel cutlery, teflon-coated aluminum pans (next to the cast iron), and I'm admiring some titanium bike parts.

  • MrHowser

    My stereo pre-dates me by 5 years, and there is an even older pre-amp/amp combo sitting in a closet waiting for a decent set of speakers.

  • <img src="; width="350">

    Hmmm, the oldest piece of tech that I use on a daily basis? Tricky. I've got several antique/old/junky items, but what do I actually use daily? I'm sure it'll come to me….

    That's it! The house! Built in 1927. Still works great.

  • ptschett

    Most of my home entertainment gear is elderly. My AM radio is a Realistic DX-160 shortwave receiver from the mid-70's; my TV is a 20-some-inch RCA from the early 90's; and my FM stereo/CD player is an Aiwa shelf system from 1996. Also I own a DVD player that happens to be an XBox but hasn't seen a game disc in 2 years.

  • P161911

    In that case isn't the wheel an even older technology?

    • ptschett

      For that matter, it's hard to go a day without using a knife.

  • Lotte

    The first-generation Playstation that my pop bought; it must have been in the early naughts. Yeah, it's not that old, but when the PS2 died, I plunked Gran Turismo 1 into it and played. When the PS3 decided to lunch its HDMI cable I took it out, plugged in its ancient red-white-yellow and again played Gran Turismo 1. It's starting to take longer to load things but I think it'll hold out for when the PS9 dies.

  • RahRahRecords

    I am not quick to adopt new tew tech. Really most of my stuff comes from yard sales and thrift stores, partly cause I'm cheap and partly for the thrill of the hunt (I just love it when I find something cool like an old heathkit tube amp or a weird obscure moog recordf or a few bucks). But the oldest tech I use regularly is probably my 49 presto k-10 record lathe, runner up is probably my 62 dodge lancer gt.

  • Everything I have is old. My receiver is an old Marantz with knobs, and I have an older, much older Pioneer in storage. It has tubes. I have lots of vinyl LPs, also in storage. My folding knife, I've had since I was a kid, it's a Case, and I still use it. Oh, look over there, there's my skateboard that I've had since 8th grade, and I can still ride it without making a fool of myself (a 27 inch Hang Ten with ACS trucks and Kryptonics Orange wheels). I've never owned a vehicle built after 1974. I have a carbide lamp. And on and on…

  • Number_Six

    It used to be my 1970s Yashica camera (got from my da), but that got broken a few years ago during an altercation with some uniformed types in Mishima, Japan. The oldest techy thing I have now is a six year-old Sony Walkman that looks like a tampon tube and gets me in trouble with airport security all over North America.

  • texlenin

    Cole #7 portable drill (1900's)
    Voightlander med format camera (1929)
    Minox C (1974)
    Iranian kerosene samovar for coffee & tea (1920's)
    Sansui G9000 reciever (70's)
    Datsun 280Z (78)
    I like stuff that is well designed & well built. If it's lasted
    this long, and I take care of it, it'll keep on truckin'.