One of the more fascinating things that happen to us in adulthood is the emerging feeling of nostalgia. We think about the TV shows we watched, the games we played and the places we visited. Even if you didn’t care much for something at the time, the memories are nonetheless enjoyable.
And, when you reach a certain age, you might find yourself wanting to revisit the technology that was such a part of your life. Yes, suddenly you pine for the days of the VCR or that ancient Commodore 64.
As silly as it may seem, many of us just love these old hunks of junk. The design community especially holds them in high esteem, as you’ll see from the excellent code snippets below.
The Original All-In-One by Andreas Pihl Jrgensen
These days, computer manufacturers love to tout their all-in-one systems. But back in the day, everything was that way (albeit in a massive, immovable package).
This example pays homage to those old computers in 3D. Just use the included sliders to rotate your view.
Distorted Playback by Clément Roche
Before the DVR came in with its crystal-clear HD playback, there was the humble VCR. Depending on your home entertainment setup, you could record your favorite show after performing approximately ten agonizing steps.
When it was time to watch, you were then treated to playback that featured jagged horizontal lines – just like the ones in this snippet.
A Gaming Icon Becomes an Icon by Avaz Bokiev
The Nintendo Gameboy may seem a little quaint when compared with the likes of the Switch. But it revolutionized portable gaming. Take as many mini-cartridges with you as you like (and a few boxes of batteries) and play all the way to Grandma’s.
The beautiful irony of this example is that the system is reimagined as an iOS app icon – the new portable wonder.
May I Have This Breakdance? by David McFeders
In the olden days, we wanted everyone to hear our music.
The boombox was the perfect way to make it happen. It was portable (even if a bit heavy) and was incredibly loud. To relive the experience, hit the play button on this snippet and get down to some fresh beats.
It’s a Phone – For Your Car! by Adam Kuhn
It’s a safe bet that we take our smartphones for granted. Yet, even the cheapest ones can do things we never imagined back in the 1990s.
Take, for example, this gigantic monstrosity that passed for high-tech. There was no texting, no screen – it was just meant for voice communication. Even if you’ve never seen one in person, this snippet lets you explore the device in eye-popping 3D.
I Made You a Mixtape by Louis Coyle
The original Sony Walkman took the big, bulky cassette player and put it in your pocket (you just need massive pockets).
This piece of tech history brought the concept of a “personal” music player mainstream. Here, you can explore an interactive facsimile with working buttons and even a removable cassette.
When Your TV Was Also Your Monitor by The Brutal Tooth
In the early days of home computing, televisions often pulled double-duty as monitors. Of course, the potential for screen burn-in meant that you might forever be reminded of how bad an idea this was.
This fun example shows off a Commodore 64 error screen, complete with a retro TV set.
Meet Me at the Arcade (and Bring Lots of Money) by CreateJS
Some of the best old-school tech never made it into most homes. But the arcade was one place you were sure to find the best graphics and sound of the day.
The full-sized games, like this incredible 3D Pacman machine, were large enough to house all the necessary equipment. No wonder it was so popular.
How the Old Inspired the New
It’s no surprise that much of this technology still holds an influence. For the web design community, it’s less about the hardware and software advancements – although they are certainly of great importance.
The real influence can be found in the areas of UI and UX. For many of us, these devices were our first taste of interacting with a screen. Gaming machines, for example, needed to have a dead-simple UI and be intuitive enough that anyone could play.
On the other hand, clunky interfaces (like that of the VCR) were lessons in frustration. Thinking about the less-than-ideal ways to perform various tasks help us to more fully appreciate the technology that made things easier.
Overall, the items above were not only fun, but they have also inspired us to create a better user experience. It’s almost like they were preparing us for this career path all along.
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