ADSactly Tech News - A Walk Down Memory Lane, Forgotten Devices of the Past (Part 1)

in phonograph •  5 months ago

Image Source: Pexels

  • Devices have changed a lot but many of the things we use today some sort of early form or similar but more basic invention can be contributed to its creation.

  • The power we have as human beings to create and recreate is absolutely extraordinary and it is probably one of our greatest strengths as a species.

Are you ready to take a trip down memory lane? Did you ever used to own a VCR? What about a BETAMAX? Were you ever confined to a typewriter to create documents? If you answered yes for any of those questions then this article should have something to peak your interest. It is true that most of the technologies that we have used in the past have been made obsolete by newer and more advanced technology that we use today.

Advances in their design went hand in hand with advances in technology in this digital era, with many large products being redesigned and miniaturized into amazingly smaller sizes.

While it seems incredibly funny that the technologies I intend to discuss in this article were considered extremely cutting-edge, we should not discount each of these technologies contribution towards all of the technology that wouldn’t exist today if they hadn't been invented and adopted to at least a certain extent.

So lets get started... But where to begin?

How about I discuss something really, really old. Possibly something you've never even seen before... I'm talking about the Phonograph.

But wait, whats a phonograph? Well this particular device is before my time but according to Wikipedia it has been described as :

A device for the mechanical recording and reproduction of sound. In its later forms, it is also called a gramophone (as a trademark since 1887, as a generic name in the UK since 1910), or, since the 1940s, a record player. The sound vibration waveforms are recorded as corresponding physical deviations of a spiral groove engraved, etched, incised, or impressed into the surface of a rotating cylinder or disc, called a "record" or "vinyl".

For most that might not be enough to paint a clear picture... I don't blame you, words alone cannot describe the magnificence of the device I'm about to show you... So without further delay, I give you... The Phonograph aka the Gramophone.

Image Source: Wikipedia

It is true, if you had one of these in your house and pitched it to your friends as the ultimate musical device they'd probably laugh you out of the room. Thankfully we have better options when it comes to recording and replaying music in the modern day! But just imagine where we would be if this technology had never been invented in the first place!

Lets move on because there's just so much to talk about when it comes to the gadgets of the past. My mind brings me to the present moment...

Do you think the keyboard I'm punching out letters on right now in writing this article just came out of nowhere? No chance. In fact it has been a long time in the making, I know for a fact that the keyboard I'm using on my MacBook Pro is much different than one found on an early model typewriter but it performs the same function for the most part.

That proves my point that the typewriter was an amazing and incredible invention that still is being used today in the form of a modern computer keyboard. What an invention!

I'd believe that there is a slight possiblity a Millenial has never seen a typewriter. Why should they have? These ancient devices are collecting dust, rotting away in antique shops and generally being ignored by the futuristic kids of today.

What is a typewriter? Well most people know but if I must answer...

A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical machine for writing characters similar to those produced by printer's movable type. Typically, a typewriter has an array of keys, and pressing one causes a different single character to be produced on the paper, by causing a ribbon with dried ink to be struck against the paper by a type element similar to the sorts used in movable type letterpress printing.

Typewriters began as purely mechanical devices built to serve a singular purpose in dropping letters on a page. Its how humanity was able to develop a wealth of classical fiction and distribute knowledge throughout the world following the precursor invention, the printing press.

What do you guys think about the typewriter? Did it serve its purpose perfectly? Do we not owe a lot to the fact that without it we may never have computer keyboards serving the same function in the modern day?

Image Source: Wikipedia

Another very mentionable and worthy device is something that you have in your pocket most likely. Of course the original models were far from being described as 'pocket ready' in fact they were big and clunky!

It is funny that for being such an epic invention, nobody knows to this day who it was that actually invented the original telephone. It seems to remain a highly debated topic to this day. One thing is not disputed and that is the fact that the first patent was awarded to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. The telephone has come a long way and has evolved from rotary dial models to smart phones that we can use today to surf the internet!

In 1876, Scottish emigrant Alexander Graham Bell was the first to be granted a United States patent for a device that produced clearly intelligible replication of the human voice. This instrument was further developed by many others. The telephone was the first device in history that enabled people to talk directly with each other across large distances. Telephones rapidly became indispensable to businesses, government and households and are today some of the most widely used small appliances.

To think that something so basic has evolved into the Apple and Samsung smartphones we carry around in our pockets today! The technology has improved by leaps and bounds! We have major power in these small devices these days beyond the greatest supercomputers available in the past!

But lets be honest, a smartphone is sort of a cross between a phone, a computer and a digital communication device all wrapped into one. There's one device that many consider to be the first personal computer of sorts... It isn't as great as you'd like to think, in fact it was pretty much only good for doing one thing. And that thing that I'm talking about, its called math.

Image Source: Wikipedia

If we take a glimpse into the past we will see that Wang made the best calculators available in the seventies.

There's no doubt that Wang manufactured mini-computers that were a cut above your standard accounting computer, with exciting features like a FORTRAN IV compiler.

Wang Laboratories was a computer company founded in 1951, by An Wang and G. Y. Chu. The company was successively headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1954–1963), Tewksbury, Massachusetts (1963–1976), and finally in Lowell, Massachusetts (1976–1997). At its peak in the 1980s, Wang Laboratories had annual revenues of $3 billion and employed over 33,000 people. It was one of the leading companies during the time of the Massachusetts Miracle.

It is hard to believe that I had never even heard of a 'Wang Calculator' before attempting to take a stroll down techno memory lane...

But just look at it folks. Isn't it a thing of glory?!

Funny for such a big company to have pretty much been forgotten by the masses eh? Did you know anything about the Wang company before clicking on this article?

It could be said that without groundbreaking technologies from Wang and HP in the 60s and 70s the personal computer revolution in the 80s may never have happened!

If you need someone to thank for the technological greatness found in your smartphone. Thank Wang!

These are just a few of the many gadgets that have laid the way for the newer and more modern gadgets that we carry around and have sitting in our homes today.

Now I want to know what my fellow @ADSactly society members think about these inventions... Do you have any experiences using any of the devices discussed in this article? Do you find tech inventions of the past to be an interesting topic?

Here's a chance for the @ADSactly community to leave their thoughts and opinions on this topic!

Thanks for reading.

Authored by: @techblogger

In-text citations sources:

Wang Laboratories - Wikipedia

Phonograph - Wikipedia

Typewriter - Wikipedia

Image Sources:



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The Sinclair ZX 81 was a tiny machine with a membrane Qwerty keyboard. I developed an adventure game in basic in 1980. We had a memory extension of 16 KB (it was hyper high at the time) but that had a tendency to eject itself when the computer heated, it was taped but the tape did not resist heat ... So we stuck with a big dico.

The memory of this machine was so weak at the base, that during backup and loading, the OS used the screen memory as transfer, so we saw cabalistic signs fill the screen.

At the time, be aware that computers were not powerful enough to work in graphics mode all the time. The default mode was a text mode where each byte of the video card represented a character.
One could go into pseudo graphic mode by reprogramming via the video card the appearance of these graphics (Commodore VIc 20). So, it made it possible to do small games fast enough.

The first to use the graphic mode, by default and more text mode were the Thomson Mo5, this was only one of their many lamentable mistakes ...

So, you are just baiting me, aren't you.

The first computer I worked with was a Wang Mini in '78. Storage Media held roughly 2 pages of data and looked a lot like the gramaphone records shown earlier. I got to tell you, I think Hewlett Packard and Texas Interments both made better calculators than Wang. I still have an HP scientific notation calculator.

Both of my Grandparents had 'Victrola' record players. One had the horn like your photo and the other had a rude and crude speaker. Played 78 RPM records and were a marvel to us children. One set of grandparents still had their parents 'Edison' a cylinder player.

I learned to type on an Underwood business manual. Took typing for a half year and the other half was journalism. You had to hit those keys hard which is why I am a 'bash typer' today who wears out keyboards with stunning regularity.

I still own a Smith Carona portable typewriter that was my mothers.

The first phone when I was growing up was mounted on the wall and was roughly the size of 12 pack of beer. Speaker was on a cord with an 'earpiece' you held to your ear as you spoke into a 'microphone' in the middle of the thing.

So. I can attest to your accuracy. Fine article that will amaze young folks and is a walk down memory lane for me.


Admittedly I had hoped this would motivate you to come out from under that rock and help me with a bit of commentary. Note taken about the Wang in terms of it having nothing on HP and TI devices and perhaps that is why they are obscured from history today. I've only seen the type of gramaphone shown above in museums so that would be freaky to walk in and see one sitting in your grandparent's living room. In regards to the phone I know what you are talking about.... Shame I didn't do a writeup on that model instead as it did precede the one I wrote about! It seems I might have a nice niche built here so I think you've inspired me to keep going down this tangent for a few more articles, see if i can dig up some more fond memories of the past.

In regard to the Edison player I do believe I'm aware of this model, if I'm not mistaken its the one illustrated in the picture below right?

Thanks for your feedback as always @bigtom13. Getting a bit of on-chain discussion always makes this job more rewarding!

I think the technology advanced so much and still is and faster an faster but I think all the real credit belongs to the first people who came up with the invention, like light, or the first phone or the television etc. because that is a true talent and imagination to be able to come up with and visualize and then to fail thousands of times (not failures, but answers to what doesn't work) trying to make it work without quitting.
Great post @adsactly. I actually used the typewriter and had many phonographs when I was a child listening to and I remember when the VCR's came out and watching my first and some of my favorite movies like "Dirty Dancing" "Rambo" "Cobra" etc.
Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

Excellent work,@techblogger. Made me go back to the past in a few minutes. I think at a time when there is talk of higher intelligences and marvelous advancements, we must truly review who the pioneers of many inventions really were. Just today I remembered, regarding a photograph of @velimir, the use of color in movies and cinema as an industry that creates dreams. I remember when the phone had some holes in a disc, which you had to rotate to dial the numbers. Likewise, I had an electric typewriter, the newest at the time, in which you put a special tape to erase errors. Not to mention the big black portable phone, like a brick, that you could carry from one side to the other and that weighed about 2 kilos. jajajja. Remembering is living, as the saying goes. I already saw that it is the first part, with the quantity of objects that we can remember, it will give you as for several deliveries. I'll keep an eye out! Greetings

You made all memory refreshed by taking us to the golden era. We never ever imagined the transition from Pgonograms or Typewriter to current digitisation and touch based equipments. I remeber going for typewriting classes and punching hard the keys to get finger pain. Never ever we dreamt of punching a smooth keyboard while working on lappy...which further transformed into touch sensitive much amazed over the evolution that we witness all over so many years....

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@techblogger, Yes, we Human Beings are greatest creators ever and in my opinion we hold the power of Transformation. Some use it for good and some use it for bad.

But yes, whatever Tools and Technology we are using that is because it born with it's first version in past then in the Process of Evolution we've upgraded it.

And just think about one aspect and that is, currently we hold bundle of Information but in old days they were more critical thinkers because they've used their creative thinking to produce amazing tools.

And now we are standing at the position where Scientists studying about the cloning and don't know at what stage our Technological Advancements will going to reach.

Wishing you an great day and stay blessed. 🙂

You have a minor misspelling in the following sentence:

I'd believe that there is a slight possiblity a Millenial has never seen a typewriter.
It should be millennial instead of millenial.

Old is gold,All things looks so great,branded things,Now a day tele phone in your hands,calculator in your cell phones,Technology the application of scientific knowledge to the practical aims of human life or, as it is sometimes phrased, to the change and manipulation of the human environment,and me watching my first movie in VCD,I m so enjoying,thanks for sharing,