We’ve loved them. We’ve hated them. We’ve given them the slap of life when we can’t figure out how to work them. Some brought out the best in us. Some made us question the premise of human intelligence. But only a select few gadgets changed our lives before a tech-driven world left them in the back corner of a dark closet.


Game Boy

The black graphics and greenish-grey background. Game cartridges that you had to blow in before you could begin playing. Attachable lights for those late night Pokémon marathons. Connection cables and the first ever console-to-console gaming. We loved it all. No longer were we held to the confines of the television set, we’d tasted portable gaming and we wanted more. The Game Boy set a precedent that gave rise to an entire industry of mobile and online gaming. We have a lot to thank the Game Boy for.


Sat Nav

It did two things: it replaced the conventional map, and it brought out a side of the human race that would leave Darwinists squinting in bewilderment. The upside was that it got people where they needed to go, without too much mental exertion. The downside was that it got people where they needed to go, without too much mental exertion. People embraced it without reservation.

“Go straight, you must,” said the novelty Yoda voice, and straight people went; through bushes, along train tracks and into the ocean. As a result an entire generation has been rendered unable to read a map the old-fashioned way. We no longer want to look around to find out where we are; we want to be told where we are. So real the issue, that street maps in London and New York have been redesigned to read point-of-view style. The Sat Nav: good for efficiency? Absolutely. Good for full cognitive development? Probably not.


DVD Player

It showed us so much. It taught us that we didn’t have to rewind a film every time we watched it; it showed us that we didn’t need to put up with the distorted Disney VHS that scared the kids senseless. It let us fast-forward, rewind and skip chapters to our hearts’ content. But we had to let it go. The DVD player lit a burning desire within us; a desire for immediacy that it just couldn’t keep up with. Long since replaced by laptops, Netflix, The Pirate Bay and Apple TV, the DVD player has had its moment in the sun.


Video Camera

Video cameras were a huge leap forward – suddenly everyone could be a director. But if there’s one thing the home video camera taught us, it’s that not everybody is a director. Shooting good, compelling footage is harder than we thought. Yet, for reasons we don’t quite understand, video cameras remain on sale. Given that you can shoot HD video on a DSLR and high quality footage on almost any camera phone, it defies logic to buy an extra gadget just to shoot snippets of your next family holiday to Barbados. Video is no longer a function exclusive to a video camera, plus we never liked what it gave us anyway.


Overhead Projector (OHP)

In struts the teacher. A rock-steady figure of authority standing before the class. On goes the OHP and there, unbeknown to the teacher and in disturbingly accurate detail, a whiteboard-size drawing of a penis. Authority: gone.

For teachers, the OHP turned the traditional classroom into an interactive minefield of surprise drawings, backwards handwriting and continual lens adjustment. Despite its drawbacks, the OHP really was the first step towards a more interactive and stimulating educational environment. Millennials of the world – you know not what you’ve missed.

James Allen