Tag Archives | Nostalgia

The Pros and Cons of the Internet, As Taught to Students in 1996

Last weekend, I was at my parents’ house in Connecticut for a family matter. As my sister went through some of the things in her childhood bedroom, she discovered a document from 1996, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of the Internet. This was apparently part of some high school handout packet; also included among the papers were tips on using Altavista and print outs of the Yahoo home page as viewed in Netscape.

Since we’re fans of tech nostalgia here at Technologizer, I thought I’d share the document with you. Surprisngly, many of the Internet’s perks and problems remain the same 15 years later, but some of them just seem silly in retrospect.

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iPoddities!

Ten years ago today, on October 23rd 2001, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod at a press event on Apple’s Cupertino campus. (Here he is doing it.) It made the news, but didn’t feel like an epoch-shifting event at the time. It was. And to celebrate the iPod’s first decade, our tech historian and oddity collector Benj Edwards has found a dozen iPod-related curiosities–ones involving dentistry, weaponry, and a whole lot more.

View iPod Oddities slideshow.


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iPod Oddities

Ten years ago today, Apple unleashed a potent musical force upon the world. I speak of the iPod, that tiny white box of a thousand songs that captivated the world for years after its introduction.

In honor of this anniversary, I decided to look back weird accessories, strange artistic tributes, and other odd sidelights of the world’s most iconic digital music player. So put in your earbuds and zone out from civilized society — it’s time for iPod Oddities.


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That’s a Spicy Computer!

Still the silliest Steve Jobs photo ever.


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Steve Jobs Steps Down the First Time: The 1985 Press Coverage

In 1985, John Sculley–Apple’s president and Steve Jobs’ partner and confidante–became frustrated with Jobs’ management style. He forced Jobs into a role as Apple’s chairman that was designed to prevent him from making any decisions. A few months later, Jobs resigned and founded NeXT. And that, it seemed, was that.

The saga got a lot of coverage in the press–not as much as this week’s Jobs news, but a lot. It’s fascinating to look back at it. And I don’t blame anyone who failed to understand the implicates of Jobs leaving back then or even cheered his exodus. I mean, who would have believed you if you’d outlined the story to come?

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Gone in Sixty Seconds: The Shortest-Lived Tech Products Ever

Companies in Silicon Valley are fond of saying that they like to “fail fast.” They mean that it’s virtuous to try lots of new things, but to give up quickly when something’s not working. But sometimes they fail fast in a manner that’s nothing to brag about. They invest millions (or hundreds of millions) of dollars in a new product and hype it to the Heavens–and then kill it after only a few months, if they ever release it at all.

From this day henceforth, HP’s TouchPad may be the poster child for bizarrely short-lived tech products. But it has lots of company–famously infamous flops such as Audrey, the G4 Cube, and Foleo. Let’s honor them, shall we?

For this list, I considered only products that were on the market for less than a year, or which never quite made it to consumers, period. Every item that made it was from a large company that should have known better. And while they all share the indignity of a short, embarrassing life, they represent multiple types of failure. (Some of them should never have left the drawing boards in the first place; others could have been great if they’d been given more time to succeed.)

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A World Without the IBM PC

Apple's famous ad.

On August 12th, 1981, IBM announced its first PC. That makes today the thirtieth anniversary of the platform that’s sometimes been called the PC clone, IBM PC compatible, or Wintel…but is most often simply called the PC. We started our celebration on Thursday with Benj Edwards’ look at PC oddities such as Bill Gates’s donkey-avoidance game. But thinking about some of the weirdness that the PC inspired got me to thinking: what if IBM, which took a long time to decide to do a PC at all, had decided not to do one? What if it had decided that microcomputers were a blip and it should stick to mainframes?

The announcement of the PC was one of the most important moments in tech history, since computers based on the PC’s design quickly flooded the market and established a standard which lives on to this day in every Windows PC. As I played around with the idea of the IBM PC suddenly vanishing from the history books, I started asking myself questions, and trying to come up with answers. (Hey, the whole subject is so unknowable that there’s no such thing as a wrong answer…)

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The PC Turns 30

On August 12th, 1981, IBM announced its first PC. I was a high school student at the time, and was totally unimpressed. The machine was boxy and boring, with graphics that couldn’t compare to something like the Atari 800. And it was way too pricey. Who’d go for that?

Lots of people, it turned out–and even today, the vast majority of us use PCs directly descended from IBM’s first one. To mark one of the most important anniversaries in computing history, Benj Edwards, as is his wont, has focused in on some its sidelights and curiosities. Read about them in IBM PC Oddities.


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IBM PC Oddities

Thirty years ago this Friday, IBM announced its very first Personal Computer, the 5150. The tech press, in a rare unified act of prescience, immediately recognized a new computing standard taking shape before its eyes.

For three decades, the platform created by the IBM PC has served as the bedrock for computing progress and innovation. Most of us use still PCs that retain some compatibility with the first PC. That’s amazing.

The true tale of the IBM PC is too complex to convey with a mere historical narrative. You need to see the hidden world of back-alleys, dead-ends, and detours that is…IBM PC Oddities.


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MS-DOS is Thirty

IBM’s Selectric isn’t the only Very Important Tech Product marking an anniversary. MS-DOS turns 30 today. (Via Mary Jo Foley.)


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