2011: The Year in Tech Nostalgia

By  |  Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 12:09 am

Here at Technologizer, our primary beat is obvious: It’s what’s new and what’s next in personal technology. But we have a rewarding secondary topic, too. It’s what’s old–sometimes very old–in tech.

Throughout the year, we look at personal-technology products of the past, sometimes on major anniversaries and sometimes just because we feel like it. Many of these articles are among the most popular ones we publish.

As we close out 2011, here’s a recap of the history we explored this year, mostly in pieces by me and by Benj Edwards, who does great work both here and at his Vintage Computing and Gaming site,, among other places.

The Legend of Zelda Oddities (February 21st)

  • A quarter-century of offbeat offshoots of Nintendo’s classic game, as collected by Benj.

Osborne! (April 1st)

  • A thirtieth-anniversary tribute to the Osborne 1–the first blockbuster portable computer–and its memorable instigator, Adam Osborne.

Remembering the Apple I (April 8th)

  • The Apple device that started it all turns 35.

15 Amazing Computing Rarities of the 1990s (April 17th)

  • Benj looks at neat machines from an era that’s neither current events nor ancient history.

Polaroid SX-70: The Art and Science of the Nearly Impossible (June 8th)

  • Edwin Land and his most extraordinary achievement–the longest thing I’ve ever written everywhere, and one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever tackled.

John Linnell of The Might Be Giants: A Technologizer Tech Interview (June 13th)

  • Half of the beloved musical duo talks with Benj about the technology in his life, dating back to the TRS-80.

Sonic the Hedgehog Oddities (June 22nd)

  • More gaming sidelights–twenty years of them–from Benj.

Donkey Kong Oddities (July 11th)

  • Hey, it’s Donkey Kong’s thirtieth anniversary, too!

It’s Selectric! (July 27th)

  • And the fiftieth birthday of IBM’s iconic electric typewriter!

IBM PC Oddities (August 11th)

  • Benj celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of a computer that didn’t start it all–but which surely changed everything.

A World Without the IBM PC (August 12th)

  • I wonder where we’d be if IBM had decided not to get into the PC business.

Gone in 60 Seconds: The Shortest-Lived Tech Products Ever (August 19th)

  • The brief life of HP’s TouchPad prompts me to look back at other interesting products that didn’t make it.

Steve Jobs Steps Down the First Time: The 1985 Press Coverage (August 25th)

  • When Apple forced out its CEO, only a few pundits said it was a bad idea–and some folks cheered the movie.

iPod Oddities (October 23rd)

  • Benj’s look at the first decade of Apples’s MP3 player.

The Life and Times of Windows XP (October 24th)

  • My year-by-year look at the operating system that may outlive us all.

The Pros and Cons of the Internet, as Taught to Students in 1996 (October 28th)

  • Jared Newman finds an old school handout, from back in the day when the Internet needs to be explained to people.

4004! (November 15th)

  • Intel’s very first microprocessor gets the Benj Edwards treatment.

Computer Space and the Dawn of the Arcade Video Game (December 11th)

  • Before Pong, there was Computer Space: Benj Edwards interviews Nolan Bushnell and other pioneers.
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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Mel K. Says:

    Harry, I really enjoyed the SX-70 article and took me back to the time when my Granddad was what we now call an "early adopter". He bought one of those first, elegant SX-70 cameras and the whole family marveled at the pictures. Your article brought back those memories of wonder at how those pictures could come out of that slim camera. Thanks for a really great read.

  2. Lazlow St. Pierre Says:

    Correction: The They Might Be Giants link actually goes to an article about alternative operating system.

  3. Harry McCracken Says:

    Thanks, will fix!

  4. Brandon Backlin Says:

    So we're being nostalgic about being nostalgic? Pretty sweet! This is why I come back to this site. Nostalgia.

  5. The_Heraclitus Says:

    That computer (wooden Apple) is one of my favorites. Really captures the early days of the Micro.

  6. Benj Edwards Says:

    I heartily endorse this post. Happy New Year, everybody.