Archive for February 23, 2008

Coolest Retro Devices

Posted: February 23, 2008 in Gadgets

Blast from the Past: Greatest Retro-Tech

There is
something about vintage technology that makes our hearts beat faster.

The nostalgia factor, added to the collectible value and the excitement
of a hunt for the perfect item, plus the evolution of design and
technology that can actually be traced to the modern examples – all
this, and the fact that technology artifacts are less durable than,
say, architecture – and often as perishable as your crumbling comic

This article is the start of a new series – please let us
know of your "pride and joy" collectible items, to be worthy of
highlighting in the next post.

– a gorgeous Russian radio from 1954: "Zvezda" (The Star)

start with radios. They were the ultimate "internet+TV+iPod+iPhone" at
the time: in short, these electric devices were often the only thing
that people had for entertainment & news.

Radio Living in a Radio World

Instead of the "web", there was the Radio-Web!

The radio personalities spoke into the coolest mikes on the planet:

Some were more portable than others

You gotta love that: First Portable Kitchen Audio System:

Now, do you appreciate your iPod more? In the 50s you had to carry the CART with you, wherever you go.

For the best vintage transistor radios collection on the web – click here. Some examples of the space-age 50s models:

Actual lace is part of the design… They don’t make electronics like that any more.

"Hippy" radio from the early 70s, with all the "flower power" colors:

"Orb" radio from General Electric:
(other weird radio shapes from the 70s are here)

On this page you have instructions on
how to make your own
retro-radio iPod

Evolution of TV sets

Have a look at your widescreen television – now compare the size of your screen with this:
1928 G.E. Octagon –

1939 Andrea 1F5 –

Old Soviet TVs do not look very exciting:
(get your blurry picture of Khruschev pounding the UN table with his boot)

Compare the above boxy designs with Japanese 1960 model: SONY

Philco Predicta TV 1960:

Neat Russian sewing machine:

Radio / LP combination:

Best of all: Soviet early-60s Electronic Microscope
(featuring an electron gun)

First Car Phones

Here is some vintage material to remind us how big and unwieldy old car phones were:

But even in their rudimentary design and technology they apparently made a good many business men happy:

Calling home after a happy day at the office, looking forward to a happy dinner with the family… Wonderful.

First Soviet Mobile Phone

What’s behind the ugliness of the design? Probably even uglier electronics:

That’s definitely better than this "Russian Radio Helmet" from the 50s:

Phone designers went crazy on this one:

LP Players, Arcade Games, etc.

First Automatic Record-Changer LP Player:

Want to play your 45rpm records in your car? Here is a device just for you:

Closer to our times, some of the first arcade video game kiosks looked pretty neat:

… others did not look so hot:

We will perhaps make a special article about the development of video games.

But let’s go back a few decades now, searching for "gadget coolness" in the mists of time:


Vintage WW2 Tech

We want to point you to the LA6NCA’s Radio page.
It’s an impressive collection of German WWII radio equipment in operating condition.

A direction finder and monitor receiver for HF:

"Happy times" with a radio:

This is not a robot (wartime R2D2), it’s just a direction finder:

There is also a page of Unknown Devices, some looking quite mysterious all right:

(some kind of an "agent-transmitter")

War-time radios were bulky, so they required some reliable transportation:

Word War Two Searchlights & Sound Locators

Very impressive looking "swords of light" – and their use –
are documented at this

The searchlight control station operator:

bizarre sound locators (not many can be found in the museums today) –

listening for the sound of engines through the special horns.
bigger the "horn", the better range of detection.


And now for something really special:

Astrolabe – The Ultimate Victorian Pocket Device from 1568

like "catch-all" iPhone of the Middle ages.
It is "an astronomical
compendium, signed by Humfrey Cole,
made in 1568 for the Elizabethan
printer and publisher Richard Jugge. …
The compendium includes a
quadrant, room for drawing instruments,
a compass, a universal
equinoctial sundial, a table of latitudes of
towns and an incomplete
calendar." –

Here is another variation:

you can see "portability" can be a relative term, "usability"
is rather
more important – and the most ancient device
(hardly having any
perishable parts in it) is still remarkably useful.
Take it with you
for your travels and it might even serve you better than a GPS.

Appleseed(アップルシード ) is an anime film, directed by Shinji Aramaki and originally released in Japan on May 17, 2004. It is based on the characters created by Masamune Shirow in the original Appleseed manga series that was published in 1985. Although it shares some characters with the original series, this film’s storyline is not connected to it. It is not to be confused with the 1988 OVA also based on the manga.

When she returned to Olympus, the Council of Elders were able to save the Bioroids. However, she confronts them that they sent the military after them. The Elders confessed and reveal that they intend to unleash the deadly D-tank virus onto Olympus, sterilizing the human race, leaving the Bioroids the new rulers of Earth, claiming it is the will of Gaia. They required the Appleseed in order to keep the Bioroids alive, but Gilliam found out and hid the data so their plan could never come. However, both the military and Bioroids catch on and disable the button that’ll unleash the virus. Athena tells Deunan that the Elders had been acting on their own and shut down Gaia once it realized humanity has lessened its hatred towards Bioroids. As a result, the Elders will soon die because Gaia regulates their life support systems. Unfortunately, the elders had a contingency plan; several mobile fortresses activate and began marching towards their location, to destroy Tartarus at point-blank range. Hitomi reveals to everyone assembled that her name can shut down the fortresses on the number 7. ESWAT begins mobilizing their forces to try to slow down the towers, with heavy casualties. Deunan and Briareos reach number 7 and managed to shut them down at the last second.

Briareos Hecatonchires  is a character from Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed manga. He is one of the two protagonists of the series, the other being Deunan Knute. Briareos is a trained SWAT officer, his point man is Deunan. They met in her father’s SWAT unit before World War III broke out. Briareos and Deunan are lovers and have been involved since before the war.

Since moving to Olympus with Deunan, they have joined the ESWAT unit (Extra Special Weapons And Tactics).

He is named after Briareus the Vigorous, one of the Hecatonchires (hundred-armed giants) of Greek mythology.

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