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Classic tech gear from the 70s you wouldn’t buy today

floppy discToday, in a world full of smartphones, tablets and terabyte hard drives, it’s hard to remember that not too long ago a computer was a big machine, bytes did not need any prefix, and by storage we meant cassettes or floppy discs.

By searching the archives of Bytes Magazine, we found some classic tech gear from the 70s that may have been hot back then, but that no one would buy today.

8k RAM

8k ram kit

It may not be cheap, and it may not be top of the line anymore, but at least it’s “Low power”. With about 16,000 of these, you got the RAM equivalent to an iPhone 3G for just over $2,000,000.

Cassette interface

Cassette interface

Way before large hard drives and cloud storage, there were cassette, and this was the interface. The best part, we would say, is the included 37-page manual. Definitely no “plug and play” here.

Mass storage

Mass storage

Storage is cheap today, but that’s not always been the case. For $1,480 you could, in 1975, get a piece of equipment that could store over 300,000 words on just one floppy disk (who even remember ‘words‘?). Even though we are not talking about the same kind of words, “The Lord of the rings” books are a bit over 500,000 words so if you are a writer you probably need more than one floppy disk at home. If you are thinking of storing photos, just forget it.

Communications

Acoustic modem

Remember the movie “War Games”?  A modem like this and a computer were all it took for a young man to, almost, start World War III. The only problem today is that you need an old phone to make it work, and there is no app that will fix that for you.

And this is?

Q-kit

Everybody  needs a Q kit! But what it is used for, we don’t know. It seems to handle a lot of different things, that much we know.

Printer

Printer

Some 30 years ago, $2679 may seem like a lot of money. Today, that would equal about $9,000. But in that price, the 90 days warranty is included and the ability for “quick change of printer fonts”.

Broken computer monitor for sale

Crt

It cost you $20 extra to get a monitor that may work. But even then, it may require “minor repairs”.

Basic computer

Basic computer

Besides the computer and the audio cassette interface, you get a 512 character CRT. That is almost enough to put 4 tweets on the screen at the same time.

Typewriter?

Typewriter

A “2 in one” deal. This bad boy can be used as a typewriter and a computer terminal.  We are speechless, a real bargain indeed.

Gaming in the 70s

Applestick

By looking at this picture, we really can’t figure out how “The applestick” works. It seems like gaming in the 70s was a lot more complicated than nowadays.

Are you laughing at this tech gear?

The development of computers has been mind blowing over the last 30 years, and it is easy to make fun of technology from the past. Surely our kids are going to make fun of the technology we use today. Our guess is that our phones and our “high speed” Internet access will appear as silly to them as the acoustic modem to us.

Do you have any favorite classic tech gears? Share with us on Twitter or in the comments below.

Image (top) via Shutterstock.



25 comments
CoreyBryant
CoreyBryant

I actually still have one of the 88 model Altair floppy drives in a factory enclosure!!  It was modified to work on my old TRS-80 in lieu of the cassettes tapes.  This is what I started on in the late 1980s when I found several TRS-80s and boxes and boxes of parts, books, tapes and program cartridges in the attic of my parents new house.  At that time, IBM compatible PCs were already mainstream, and the TRS-80 was ancient history already - but it got me started.  I learned Basic from the books that were in the boxes, figured out how to connect the 300BPS modem and eventually found Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes).  I remember being restricted from many of them because 300BPS was just SLOW...since 2400BPS Hayes modems had just hit the market.  LOL  A guy named David Luong in Arlington Texas ran a board named "The Lost Cluster".  He saw that I was using a 300BPS modem with no ANSI graphics and felt bad for me.  He knew I was dealing with limited technology that would not open the doors that I wanted to open for myself - career wise.  He had a heart, and brought me an 8088 with a CGA graphics card, 20MB MFM hard drive, and a color monitor.  I...was....amazed...  I didn't sleep for 3 nights...  I loved it....  =)   I never did get rid of my TRS-80 collection, and even bought more over the years.  I even have the "portable" TRS-80 with the on-board mono screen and dual floppy drives.  (See: http://www.vintagecomputer.net/tandy/trs80_4p/thm_TRS80_4P.jpg)

 

Thanks for the post.  This really took me back!  I'm even thinking about getting one of the TRSes down out of MY attic and hooking it up for old times sake. 

CoreyBryant
CoreyBryant

I actually still have one of the 88 model Altair floppy drives in a factory enclosure!!  It was modified to work on my old TRS-80 in lieu of the cassettes tapes.  This is what I started on in the late 1980s when I found several TRS-80s and boxes and boxes of parts, books, tapes and program cartridges in the attic of my parents new house.  At that time, IBM compatible PCs were already mainstream, and the TRS-80 was ancient history already - but it got me started.  I learned Basic from the books that were in the boxes, figured out how to connect the 300BPS modem and eventually found Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes).  I remember being restricted from many of them because 300BPS was just SLOW...since 2400BPS Hayes modems had just hit the market.  LOL  A guy named David Luong in Arlington Texas ran a board named "The Lost Cluster".  He saw that I was using a 300BPS modem with no ANSI graphics and felt bad for me.  He knew I was dealing with limited technology that would not open the doors that I wanted to open for myself - career wise.  He had a heart, and brought me an 8088 with a CGA graphics card, 20MB MFM hard drive, and a color monitor.  I...was....amazed...  I didn't sleep for 3 nights...  I loved it....  =)   I never did get rid of my TRS-80 collection, and even bought more over the years.  I even have the "portable" TRS-80 with the on-board mono screen and dual floppy drives.  (See: http://www.vintagecomputer.net/tandy/trs80_4p/thm_TRS80_4P.jpg)   Thanks for the post.  This really took me back!  I'm even thinking about getting one of the TRSes down out of MY attic and hooking it up for old times sake.

frankmayer_
frankmayer_

@luebbert42 @hartmann_p :D I still remember my VC-20, C-64 and Amiga 500, 2000 times and get carried away sometimes :)

frankmayer_
frankmayer_

@luebbert42 @hartmann_p :D I still remember my VC-20, C-64 and Amiga 500, 2000 times and get carried away sometimes :)

paulmwatson
paulmwatson

Actually I'd really like a QKit sensor. That was an idea well before its time.

paulmwatson
paulmwatson

Actually I'd really like a QKit sensor. That was an idea well before its time.

Sajal Kayan
Sajal Kayan

$5,160 Ought to be Enough for Anyone...

Sajal Kayan
Sajal Kayan

$5,160 Ought to be Enough for Anyone...

Lóth Tamás
Lóth Tamás

Price war, uhh. I remember what the 7805 is.