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Are You Old Enough to Recognize These Retro Gadgets?

More importantly, are you cool enough?

The 20th century gave us some of the most impressive and groundbreaking advancements in technology, not just for business but for leisure. From Sony Walkmans to lava lamps, retro gadgets made life so much more fun and convenient. Here are 10 retro gadgets that became synonymous with their time periods, and laid the groundwork for much of our modern technology, business, and gaming tools.

Polaroid Cameras

Newcastle UK: 4th FEb 2024: Retro Polaroid Instant 20 retro instant camera

The first Polaroid instant camera was released in 1948 and was widely popular in the 1970s. Polaroid went out of business thanks to small point-and-click cameras, and of course, now anyone can take pictures on their phones. Polaroid cameras are still available for retro-obsessives.

Rotary Phones

An old historic rotary phone

Before everyone carried supercomputers in their pockets, landlines were necessary for people to call each other. Rotary phones were introduced in 1904 and started to become obsolete in the 60s, disappearing completely by the 90s.

Floppy Disk Drive

Close-up of the diskette for old computers being stacked on a wooden table selective focus and shallow depth of field

Who over a certain age can forget using floppy disks? The floppy disk was introduced in 1971 and is responsible for the "save" icon on computers.By the 2000s floppy disks were obsolete.

Vinyl Records

Istra, Russia - September 06, 2021: Vinyl record, spinning on a turntable, Vintage record player with radio 60's.

Vinyl records were invented in the 1800s but didn't become popular until 1948. The invention and release of the Sony Walkman helped speed vinyl records towards obsolescence, but vinyls are enjoying a modern-day resurgence.


Overhead shot of an antique typewriter on a rustic wood table.

The first commercially sold typewriter was released in 1870. Electric typewriters became popular in the 1960s and became obsolete by the 90s thanks to personal computers.



Pagers were developed in the 50s and 60s but didn't go into widespread use until the 1980s. Also known as beepers and bleepers, the pager went the way of the dinosaur once cell phones became common. 


Moscow, Russia, May 13, 2023: Collection of retro portable stereo cassette recorders.

Ubiquitous with 80s and 90s movies, the first boombox was introduced in the late 70s and became wildly popular. As they weren't too expensive, boomboxes were accessible for kids who became status symbols.

Nintendo Game Boy

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA - DECEMBER 30, 2013: Photo of an original Nintendo handheld video game device Game boy (1989) with Tetris game playing.Showing obvious signs of longtime use.

The original Nintendo Game Boy revolutionized handheld gaming in 1989, and became an icon of the 90s. It became the fourth best selling console ever, and was followed up with the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Lite. The console introduced the world to Super Mario Land.

Casio Calculator Watch

yogyakarta, indonesia - january, 03 2022 : Casio digital calculator watch. Casio is a Japanese company that manufactures watches, precision instruments and mechanics.

Marty McFly relied on his Casio CA-50 watch in Back To the Future, and the Casio CA-53W

In Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III. Retro enthusiasts can still get their hands on one with some online digging.

Lava Lamp

Green lava lamp stands near a white wall in the darkness

The lava lamp was released in 1963 and is a quintessential retro gadget. Developed by British inventor Edward Craven Walker and David George Smith, lava lamps are synonymous with the style of the 1960s. You can still get them today, but made with safer materials.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more