The Gadgets Page

January 15, 2015

Utah Department of Employment Security and Their RCA Spectra 70

Filed under: Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 12:00 pm

A while back, I wrote an entry about some photos I found in an antique store:

Back then, I guessed that these pictures were from the Corporate Office for the computer company itself:

If you notice, the 1965 brochure doesn’t mention a Salt Lake City office, but the 1968 brochure does. Considering that RCA stopped selling the Spectra70 in 1970, I suspect these photos are from the opening of the Salt Lake City office.

I was WRONG! I am so lucky, because Mike Dodas, who worked at the Utah Department of Employment Security during the 70s recognized the people in the photos! He emailed me and I asked him a ton of questions. Here is his response!

December 15, 2014

Dear Laura,

I was very happy to hear back from you! It’s really great to be able to talk to someone about these systems from the past with someone who is interested. I guess I’ll start with your questions, first. In those early days, we were the Utah Department of Employment Security, which was abbreviated (nation-wide) to Job Service. Today it is the Utah Department of Workforce Service. I will refer to it as Job Service.

RCA Spectra 70 UT Department of Employment Security from The Gadgets Page

(Continue Reading…)

February 13, 2013

The Dark Eye: A Creepy Edgar Allan Poe Game

Filed under: Retro Gadgets,Toys and Games — Laura Moncur @ 2:08 pm

Over the years, the most tantalizing games of the Nineties were hardly able to be called games. My favorite, was The Dark Eye. It was a strange, retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories that let you see them from the point of view of the victim and the “disturbed.”

The most disturbing was the story of Berenice. I had never read the story, so the ending of this portrayal on the game is particularly vivid in my memory. Wandering around the library, trapped and the eery voice repeating, “teeth,” over and over again is how I will always remember that story.

Here is a walkthrough of that storyline:

Watching this brought back all the creepy fascination I had with this game. That random wandering in the library, not knowing what to do, and those unintelligible voices just gave me a shiver of fear. All the portraits changed to smiling teeth and flashing teeth on the screen are just the finishing touches on a brilliant work.

KotakuNYC has an interesting tribute to the game here:

After watching these clips, I realize why The Dark Eye hasn’t been ported over to iOS like Myst and The 7th Guest. It was less a game and more an interactive movie… with puppets… and Edgar Allan Poe… and William S. Burroughs. It was just too strange to be rescued from the sterile death of non-compatibility. It remains only in clips and bits on YouTube and suffers a dismemberment not unlike the very characters it portrayed.

For more clips:

January 30, 2013

Walter Cronkite in the Home of 2001 (1967)

Filed under: Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 9:17 am

I LOVE this video showing what a house in 2001 would look like. Here is the living room.

He describes a huge console that would control the entire house, whereas now, our fancy televisions and any home automation that we have can be controlled by a simple app on our cell phone.

Here is the home office, where you don’t go to work, the work comes to you.

These days, you don’t need to print up the newspaper for future reference, you can just store it as a PDF on your hard drive. Even better, our video conferencing can be done on a tiny phone in our pockets.

The kitchen of the future is interesting as well.

I don’t have an automated chef that takes food from the storage and cooks it. I also have to wash dishes, but I don’t think I want that kitchen of the future. I would much rather wash a plate than smell melting plastic every time I eat.

I love to see the retro vision of what the future would be, but in the end, the future turned out to be SO much better!

Via: Paleofuture: 3D-TV, Automated Cooking and Robot Housemaids: Walter Cronkite Tours the Home of 2001

December 1, 2012

The 1936 Los Angeles Electrical Exposition

Filed under: Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 8:34 am

This photo from Retronaut looked so familiar to me. After years of attending CES, I see women dressed as electrical appliances all the time.

Women Dressed as Appliances 1936 Los Angeles  Electrical Exposition

Usually, I see women dressed as network cables, electrodes or microchips, but these women dressed as washing machines and vacuum cleaners look very similar. Only the costumes have changed.

Why do marketing people do this?

Are they trying to humanize “scary” new technology? Are they trying to sexualize it?

Whatever they’re doing, they’re missing a full HALF of the population by only dressing women up as gadgets instead of using both men and women. Maybe women don’t need technology to be humanized or sexualized to love it. Maybe us girls just love gadgets without all that marketing stuff.

October 25, 2012

Disney’s Carousel of Progress: See The Gadgets of Yore

Filed under: Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am

I feel as if I’ve found a gem! Here is a video showing Disney’s Carousel of Progress, which used to be in Tomorrowland in Disneyland, but is now at Disney World. It showcases all the gadgets of yesteryear. It was supposed to be a hopeful look at the technological progress we have made over the last century, but it also was a commercial for the new things that GE had for sale. Now, however, it is merely a historical look at gadgets.

Even the so-called “future” of this attraction is so quaintly set in the past with its virtual reality games and microwaved pizza for Christmas dinner. Back in the early 90s, we all thought virtual reality was going to be the wave of the future, but it still hasn’t arrived yet. Here is a photo of a disappointing virtual reality booth at Comdex in 1996.

Disappointing VR Booth at CES 1996 from The Gadgets Page

Now, virtual reality sounds quaint, just like the idea of flying cars. They would be cool, but I don’t have any hope that either one will materialize.

When it comes to predicting the gadgets of the future, it’s far better look to science fiction than to the hopeful aspirations of gadget companies. For example, this short film, True Skin, has an abundance of ideas about biotechnology. I wonder if it will feel just as dated in ten years as the final scene of the Carousel of Progress.

In the end, predicting the future of technology is far more difficult than it seems. For every science fiction idea that finally comes to fruition, there are fifty that remain in the realm of fantasy. I’m sure that there IS a great big beautiful tomorrow on the horizon for us. It just might not look like we expect it to.

June 8, 2012

Computer Virus Reporting Circa 1988

Filed under: Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 6:08 am

Just a quick retro distraction today with a YouTube video showing a TV news report about a computer virus in 1988.

I find it incredibly funny that they used video footage of the game, ET, to demonstrate how a virus might eat up your data and spread.

ET Atari videogameThis is a description of the game according to Wikipedia: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (video game)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (also referred to simply as E.T.) is a notorious 1982 adventure video game developed and published by Atari, Inc. for the Atari 2600 video game console. It is based on the film of the same name, and was designed by Howard Scott Warshaw. The objective of the game is to guide the eponymous character through various screens to collect three pieces of an interplanetary telephone that will allow him to contact his home planet. [It] is often cited as one of the worst video games released and was one of the biggest commercial failures in video gaming history.

Stacey and I loved the video game and played it on our Atari constantly. It wasn’t as much of a favorite as Adventure or Journey Escape, but we loved it.

I find it interesting that something that we deal with on a regular basis was such a novelty less than 25 years ago. I like to think that people who write computer viruses, email spam and comment spam have a special hell that they will enjoy in the afterlife. They will constantly find themselves in a desperate situation: a loved one is injured, they are trapped in a hole, or they are irrevocably lost. When they try to call on the cell phone, they can’t because it rings constantly with calls from telemarketers. When they hang up on the intrusive calls and try to call out, they are blocked because the towers are so jammed full of telemarketing calls. Their torture continues as their situation gets worse and worse, with no hope of help in sight and the constant interruption of telemarketers.

We’ve come a long way from that news program that describes a hacker as a “dark genius” and a “good A student,” to the nearly epic proportions of attack we have on our computers every day. The financial economies of entire third world nations have been built on attacking our computers, email and comments sections. And I imagine a special hell for each and every one of them.


July 29, 2011

Domestic Technology: Making Housework Easier

Filed under: Kitchen Gadgets,Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 12:00 pm

Mike and I were lucky enough to attend the Clark County Domestic Technology: Making Housework Easier exhibit in Henderson, Nevada last November. Since my grandmother was an antiques collector, many of the items were things that I had actually used as a child, so it brought back many fond memories for me, even though most of these gadgets were far ahead of my time.

The exhibit started out with vacuums and their salesmen.

This Electrolux looks exactly like the vacuum that my grandmother used on the stairs. She kept it in the basement. Seeing it makes me think of the green shag carpet and how many times I vacuumed up the stairs with that aqua colored vacuum.

I loved how the museum posted replicas of the advertisements for the gadgets alongside the real thing.

My grandmother also had this iron. I remember ironing my grandpa’s handkerchiefs with it while watching Phil Donahue on the television. I can still smell the spray starch.

This Rival crockpot, however, is exactly like the one from my mom’s house. Carol made homemade chicken noodle soup in that crockpot so many times that my mouth waters just seeing that avocado colored appliance.

I was most surprised by the antique toasters. I had no idea how old that technology was.

I loved how the museum included technology from present day. In this “Keeping Food Fresh” section, they included antique Mason jars, Tupperware from the 1970’s and even Ziploc containers from 2010. A century of awesome on one shelf.

The blender on the right is exactly like the one my mom had. We made so many cakes and cookies with that blender. She told me that she received that blender as a wedding present and it always amazed me that something older than me was still helping us in the kitchen.

Some of the gadgets brought back a strange nostalgia like the box for the hot plate in the background here. Then again, they included a George Foreman grill, which is a similar appliance, but it took the world by storm when it hit the market.

Seeing this exhibit was a strange mixture of nostalgia for the past and coveting in the present. The starburst clock on the wall made me jealous with desire.

It was a great exhibit and I truly enjoyed myself. Here is a video from the Clark County Museum talking about it:

September 16, 2010

Dishmaster: An Old Invention That Needs A Comeback

Filed under: Kitchen Gadgets,Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

I absolutely LOVE the concept behind the Dishmaster!


Instead of a sprayer attached to a hose on your sink, the sprayer has a dish brush. Not only does your brush stay right where you need it, it squirts water out on your dishes while you clean. You can see the entire ad here:


Oxo SteeL Soap Squirting Dish Brush at Amazon.comWhat I would love to see is a modern day hack that takes the Oxo SteeL Soap Squirting Dish Brush and attaches it to my nearly useless sink sprayer. What would I have to do to make that a reality in my own home? Maybe it’s time to hit the hardware store and find out for myself.

Advert via: Live Journal vintage_ads: This is actually kinda neat!

January 21, 2010

CES 2010: Polaroid Looks at Its Past

Filed under: Cameras,Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Polaroid did an excellent job of playing off its rich photographic past in its booth at CES this year.

They had a display honoring the great Dr. Edwin Land, inventor of polarization.

CES 2010 Polaroid Looks at Its Past from The Gadgets Page

They showed some artwork made with Polaroids.

CES 2010 Polaroid Looks at Its Past from The Gadgets Page

They even brought some favorite retro gadgets out of the Polaroid Museum for some nostalgic appeal.

CES 2010 Polaroid Looks at Its Past from The Gadgets Page

You can see all the photos here:

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from The Gadgets Page

Filed under: Retro Gadgets,Site News — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Atari Lynx ChristmasAll the writers at The Gadgets Page wish you a very merry Christmas.

May you receive all the gadget visions that dance in your head.

I’ll leave you with a photograph from our Christmas back in 1991. It was our second Christmas together and Mike bought me a Atari Lynx II for the holiday. You can see it plugged into the wall front and center under our tiny tree if you look carefully (it’s the big black rectangle). It cost us over a hundred bucks and Mike had to order it from the only Atari dealer left in Salt Lake City. He was a crazy guy with an office in South Salt Lake that was filled top to bottom with old Atari parts, boxes of papers and oh so many wires and cables. He believed that the government was tracking him by reading the magnetic strips in money. He was the first person to point them out to me and showed me how to remove them so the government wouldn’t be able to find him.

The two of us played Chip’s Challenge and S.T.U.N. Runner all day. Looking at the photo, it looks pretty meager, but it was a wonderful Christmas!

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