Feeds

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear

The kit we wanted but Santa never brought. Bastard.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Xmas Round-up Christmas isn’t just a time for celebration – it’s also a time for bitter, tearful reflection on the things that might have been and the gifts you’d have received if only you worked harder at that paper round, or your parents loved you enough.

So we at The Reg decided to sift the salty tears of seasonal recrimination and seek out some of the top tech gifts of yesteryear all us budding nerds desperately wanted but never got. In reverse release-date order, then...

Sinclair Microvision (1977)

Reg Hardware retro numbers

A seasonal family row is just the thing to make you wish you could retire to a quiet room – or even out in the park – and watch whatever you want. Today we might use a smartphone or 4G-enabled tablet; back in the day we might have had Sinclair’s two-inch Microvision.

Costing £200 in 1977 – £1,050 in today’s money – it was no bargain, and with just three channels to choose from the in the UK, very much a luxury.

Sinclair Microvision ads

Click for larger image

Sir Clive tried again the following year with a Europe-only model at half the price, and again in 1983 with the FTV1, which used a novel sideways CRT to create a flat screen. By then there were four channels to watch for your 80 quid, but LCD-based sets from Japanese manufacturers were hard on its heels, and none of the Microvision models was a real success.

Arguably, aside from entertaining security guards, pocket-size TV is still a solution looking for a problem to solve. Still wanted one though...

 

Atari Video Computer System (1978)

Reg Hardware retro numbers

Some of us had to make to with an Ingersoll or Binatone TV game rig, offering variations on a theme of "turn a knob to move a white block" or "shoot a white square". The cool kids up the road, however, had an Atari VCS, later renamed the 2600.

To a late 1970s kid, those silver switches, the fake wood and the whole design seemed glamorously American. This was the future, in your living room, and if you didn’t have a VCS yourself, you'd beg to be allowed to go play Space Invaders or Pac-Man with your friends.

Atari VCS

Source: moparx

The plug-in cartridges offered a world of choice, far more than the half dozen or so of previous "TV games" – there was even a Raiders of the Lost Ark spin-off.

And perhaps the VCS had another legacy too: with its fairly simple graphics, it wasn’t long before some owners realised that they could create the same sort of thing themselves, using the home computers of the early 1980s.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Next page: Big Trak (1979)

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Xiaomi boss snaps back at Jony Ive's iPhone rival 'theft' swipe
I'll have a handset delivered. Judge us after you try us...
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.