October 20, 2015
We used to call them throwbacks, the people who insisted on living in the past by hanging on to old things, while eschewing the new. It seems that the faster technology rushes ahead, the more we want to cling to older things. These days, things are no longer old, they are “retro,” and retro is cool.
Fortunately, there are subdivisions of the tech community that are devoted to restoring and preserving the great tech that has come in the past. Here is a look at three examples, which bring the mean to the saying “everything old is new again”:
Arguably, the automobile was the most influential invention of all time, changing the way we understood community and locality. It seemed, for a while, that we would be commuting in flying cars before the century turned. Sadly, the century mark as come and gone, and cars are no closer to lifting off than they were when they were first invented. Perhaps part of the reason is that we are still very much in love with the cars from a bygone era.
Porsche cars are great examples of beloved vehicles that refuse to lose to the march of progress. eEuroparts.com is a business devoted to helping auto enthusiasts and hobbyists preserve the classic years and models of this brand. Searching their online store you can still find OEM Porsche parts from over 30 years ago. Today, we have young adults still falling in love with restoring, tuning and even upgrading these magnificent vehicles.
The last several years of new car design have been callbacks to the past rather than being future forward. Who would have expected to see new Dodge Darts in this era? Cars like the PT Cruiser and the Chrysler 300 rekindle the nostalgia for a time before most of us were born. It seems flying cars can wait. We’re not quite done with the Model T.
Clocks and Timepieces
Newscasts are filled with stories of Ahmed Mohamed, the kid who was mistaken for a bomb-making terrorist. He did not come to school showing off a brand new invention that no one had ever encountered – instead, he came toting, of all things, a homemade clock. Talk about an invention that will never die, the digital clock reached form/function synergy ages ago. It shows the time in brightly colored numbers that are easy to see and decipher.
The newest thing in timepieces since the pocket watch got strapped to the wrist is the smartwatch. One hint that this might be more than a passing fad is that we have been down this road before with early entries from Microsoft in the form of the Spot Watch. The traditional timepiece industry rightly ignored it and it never caught on. This time, the timepiece industry had a cow. And along with that cow, a revelation. This time, they felt like they had to change or die.
Interestingly, they made no move when Samsung released six smartwatches to the world, nor even Pebble, or Android Wear entrants such as the Moto 360. But when Apple introduced the Apple Watch, the industry kicked things into high gear. While they originally mocked the smartwatch trend, now fashionable Guess smartwatches, and others from the likes of Swatch and Mondaine, have been announced and are in production – combining their brands’ classic forms and designs with cutting-edge technology.
Pens and Pencils
There was a time when the only way the average person could quickly transfer a thought to a semi-permanent form was by reaching for a piece of paper and jotting it down with a pen or pencil. It used to be common to see a person walking about in a public setting with a pen or pencil tucked between head and ear.
However, the pen itself is in danger of being replaced, due to the war on paper. No one is going paperless any time soon, but that is the stated goal of many. Instead of paper notebooks, we carry smartphones and tablets. These devices do not work with traditional pens and pencils.
Once you have read through the countless stylus roundups, and compared the newest user-friendly stylus offerings from giants Microsoft and Apple versus smaller tech-focused companies, you are left with a sense of irony: the new and improved pencil for the next generation will be judged based on its ability to accurately mimic the form and function of that which it replaces. In other words, the more like a pencil or pen it performs, the better it is considered to be.
The past will never die. It will always be a part of us. Timeless design where form meets function, meets humanity will always be celebrated in industries like automotive, time-keeping, and writing. Let’s just hope we never see the return of houses without indoor plumbing. Somethings are best left in the past.
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