The iPods of their Day

ND – Gorgeous Hot Sunny, Blue

So yesterday a Mr S.Jobs got up on stage again and showed some slightly different shaped variations of what his teams have built before. And just like this time last year, the world sighed.

But that’s a pretty mean thing to say. How can people be “so what” about a company that’s defined the world’s first ever gadget decade. Apple has been the gadget world’s poster child almost since the turn of the millennia and the launch of the iPad, a device of great speculation and subsequent massive success, has done nothing but make this another highlight year for Apple.

I grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, not a great time for electronic gadgets in general though there were some highlights. Certainly, the birth of the home computer revolution (something Apple had a hand in amongst others) was amazing for me, and the handheld battery-powered gaming devices available in the late 1970’s to the mid 1980’s were a genuine revelation. But those aside, what else did we have?

Sony brilliantly defined portable music with the original Walkman in 1978, and it was subsequently followed by portable compact disc players that gained popularity with the affordability that the late 1980’s finally provided.

But wind forward to 2010 and there are so many MP3 players, PMP’s, Camcorders, pocket cameras, affordable cellphones and (increasingly) smartphones for the masses, GPS satellite navigation, laptop computers, netbooks and countless offshoot accessories (Hello Kitty USB keys anyone?) that it’s hard to keep up with all of the genres to play with, and the rapid advances within those.

But is this small-minded thinking? After all, a gadget is simply an invention that gives you extra functionality or easier functionality. Could this be applied to other things in the past?


One man’s gadget is another man’s wheelbarrow. Or is that vice versa? Certainly with the revolution of electricity in the household in many parts of the world during the 20th century we have also had groundbreaking and socially changing gadgets like the radio, TV, video recorder, vacuum cleaners, kitchen mixers, washing machines, dishwashers etc.

The radio is also a case in point because it was originally referred to as the “wireless”, yet wireless now has a very different connotation to the internet generation and I wonder if the best part of a century from now our descendents may have another meaning for it.

Yellow Can

But even without electricity powering kettles, toasters and irons, we’ve had gadgets before that made our world a better and easier place. It’s just that the bar is raised and yesterday’s gadgets are today’s junk. I don’t know how long people have held fireproof containers over fires to boil water, but it’s certain that gadgets not too dissimilar are still of use to us today, and we could pick up a kettle from several hundred years ago and get it to work without much trouble.

Yet people will buy iPods tomorrow as an upgrade to previous iPod devices that are being superseded, with those devices being thrown out. Some break, some lose battery life. In fact, we live in a disposable world where quite a lot of the alleged 275 million iPods that Apple have claimed they’ve sold have been mothballed or disposed of.

I’m a gadget fan. This is a photography blog and whether you have a high-end digital SLR camera, an inexpensive pocket snap-shooter, an old rangefinder or a medium format device in a wooden box with bellows, then you’re into gadgets too, even if for only what they can do for you, which is surely the ultimate point.

It would be all too easy for many people to drop their current cameras when new models come out, but I’m hoping that my camera is a kettle, and will serve me well for some time to come…

…though probably not as long as the yellow kettle above served our ancestors.

Have fun,

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(c) Nakedigit 2010


About nakedigit

I have legs and a camera. I also occasionally use a passport. The camera with my brightest lenses can almost (almost) see in the dark. So the only thing stopping me from putting it all together regardless of where and when i am is, well, me really! However, when i don't completely muck it up the results may end up here on this blog and also my Flickr page. I now Twitter and a website is coming... ND August 2010
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