New technology meets retro style



Tech lovers like us are forward-thinking beings, always looking out for the next gadget which will revolutionise our lives because it’s faster, sleeker and cooler than its predecessor. Yet most of us still have a soft spot for favourite gadgets from yonks ago.

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Retro Roberts radios have made a comeback in recent years

What is it about retro technology that we seem to miss, even when the latest incarnations have been upgraded and tweaked to be much better?

Canon is among the digital camera manufacturers to bring back optical viewfinders due to demand from consumers. A percentage of happy snappers said they had trouble using the LCD screens on compact cameras in bright sunlight and felt the old viewfinder would solve the problem.

Personally, after years of accidentally chopping off the heads of my friends in photos, I think the optical viewfinder could be wasted on me – but Canon has responded with the PowerShot A1200, with both an LCD screen and a traditional viewfinder. Everybody’s happy.

So what other pieces of forgotten technology can we expect to make a comeback?

It’s hard to imagine a clamour to bring back 3.5” floppy disk drives for desktop PCs, given that USB flash drives are much faster and carry more data. Likewise, not many people will be trading in their electric oven for an old-fashioned coal stove.

Most of the time we love retro tech because it looks awesome and it reminds us of when we first fell in love with gadgets, gizmos and games.

I remember playing on the first PlayStation in my youth. Many a happy evening was spent running rings around hapless Sri Lankan players with the New Zealand All Blacks on Jonah Lomu Rugby.

Clearly, England cricketer Stuart Broad had a similar childhood and has tweeted his delight at playing the Codemasters classic once again. It might not offer the same graphics as a PS3 sports sim, but where else will you hear a commentator describe a player as ‘digging like a demented mole’?

Gamers who grew up in the 1980s will have fond memories of the Commodore 64, with its blocky, grey casing and tape deck. The console which once delivered chunky versions of Lemmings and Donkey Kong is now on the verge of a comeback.

The new souped-up C64x will be the spitting image of the original device on the outside, but inside it’ll be an altogether more powerful beast. The tape recorder, floppy disk drive and feeble 64k of RAM are to be replaced with a Blu-ray player, multi-format card reader and 2GB of DDR3 RAM.

But it’s not just gaming favourites which have been getting the retro treatment…

If you’ve considered buying a DAB digital radio, then you’ll notice some of the designs and even manufacturers are a stylish throwback to the days of the whole family gathering round the wireless to listen to the news.

DAB radios are equipped to deliver audio in crystal-clear digital quality, but some still retain that 1950s style. The new technology’s popularity has given a chance for the famous Roberts radios to return to kitchens and living rooms around the country.

Generally, what we really love about retro technology is the way it looks and the reminder of how we felt when it first came out.

You can always get the best of both worlds by putting the latest technology inside a retro casing – delivering powerful performance, but still looking dead cool.

What do you miss about old gadgets? Are you a fan of retro style tech, or do you prefer sleek and modern? Comment below…