Tell us: What’s a piece of old technology you refuse to give up?

An original gramophone sits on the back seat of a 1932 Humber in Hull, England.

Calling all Marketplace listeners! We need your help for a story we’re working on about retro gadgets and the people who love them.

Tell us: What’s a piece of old technology you refuse to give up? Maybe it’s a record player, slide projector, or a toaster oven you bought in 1992. Does your old gadget outperform new technologies? Why are you still holding on to it?

Help us out by answering a few questions and telling us what you think. We’ll be featuring some of your responses on the air and online.


About the author

Meg Cramer is a producer for Marketplace Tech.
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MsLis mentioned the Palm (Pilot) and I agree. I still have and use my Palm Tungsten III aka T3 daily. I have an iPhone but the Palm Contacts, Notes, and Calendar apps are at once more intuitive and useful than anything Apple (or Google for that matter) has put out to date. Try entering a recurring event on the 3rd Tuesday of each month without a third-party app on iOS, you can't do it.

The choice between Graffiti and an onscreen keyboard is nice too. I'll be using mine until it gives up the ghost or Apple catches up to Palm circa-1997.

I still prefer my compass, ruler, flashlight, calculator, wired headset, remote control.

I love analog clocks since I can visualize time better and thus work on time management. I used to have an old Infiniti with an analog clock and I loved it! I have become accustomed to the ticking sound of the second hand.

My 1922 rotary dial stem telephone still works. I don't have to pay an expensive monthly fee for cell service. I don't experience dropped calls and I can actually hear the person I'm talking to. It doesn't break, need recharging, or become obsolete every 6 months when new software is introduced. It contains no rare earth metals and minerals that contribute to environmental degradation and it wasn't made in China, so it doesn't add to trade balance inequities or sweatshop labor practices. In fact, it was made right here in America, with American labor. That's why, more than 90 years later, it still works.

Paperback books.

Like hardback books, they have the feel I enjoy. The form factor is lighter, more compact, and more portable than hardback books.

A further advantage is that, when I'm done, I can donate them to an important charity: the locked psych ward at our local VA hospital, which is something I can't do with either hardback books (potential weapons), or e-books.

Olivetti manual typewriters.

They're wonderfully tactile. They compel me to think and re-think before I write, no editing once words are on paper. They're single-use machines, no distractions from email, youtube, facebook (not a fan), twitter (hate it!), etc. They will live on long after the next iPad had gone to the obsolescence graveyard.

And Olivettis, specifically, because they are artful pieces that come from noted industrial designers' aesthetic vision (Ettore Sottsass, Marcello Nizzoli, Mario Bellini, etc.). They're probably the only typewriters on permanent display at MOMA.

I also haven't given up Wite-Out correction fluid.

My flip phone! I don't know about "retro" but it seems to garner a lot of attention, (mostly jabs and jeers) from those around whenever I pull it out. I used to feel a bit self-conscious using it in front of co-workers or in a very public forum. But lately, I've heard a few nostalgic comments from friends like, "Man, I wish I still had my flip phone!" and "That was such a good little phone." I have to agree with that last sentiment. I talk, text, take and send photos, use it as my alarm clock, and am genuinely fond of this lightweight little LG. To the chagrin of many of my peers, I don't see myself "upgrading" to a smartphone anytime soon. Long live the flipper!!!

I listen to records on my turntable through vintage tube equipment every day. I love the ritual of
1. turning on the preamp and giving the tubes a few minutes to warm up. (Great time to pour a glass of wine)
2. Turning on the amplifier
3. carefully taking the record out of the sleeve, placing it on the turntable, zapping it with the silly looking anti static device, brushing it gently with a special brush
4. Oh so carefully placing the needle on the groove
5. Plopping down in my chair, which is placed perfectly in the room, checking out the album artwork and liner notes, and deeply listening to music for 40 minutes or so.

CD's and all the other music file formats are convenient enough. But it's just not the same experience. Not as deep.

I have a Sony Walkman in my car. It's a "newer" version of my 1980s Walkman, and I've not thrown out any of my cassettes. I also have not thrown away my vintage 1970s instamatic camera with 110 film and flashcubes. But what I refuse to get rid of is my Hallicrafters shortwave radio, which I display on a baker's rack in my living room and has gotten a lot of notice for its Army green colour and 1940s stylings. It works ... but doesn't pick up much these days as SW and LW signals disappear in the name of tech progress.

I can't let go of my vintage telephone. Its heavy & bakelite. I bought it from an antiques dealer years ago. I love the heavy feel of the receiver in my hand and the ultra-loud ring that I could hear even out in my backyard. As digital lines become the norm, there are fewer places I can live without a push button phone which makes me really really sad. I recently moved from upstate NY where I used my phone to Austin TX where it just in a box. I'm not letting it go though. Someday I'll figure out a what (probably through some new technology) that will make my 1940's rotary phone work thru a digital line)...of course, then phone trees will be hell again, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.


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