Dhaka, Bangladesh
Blast from the past

Blast from the past

Life wasn't always as convenient as it is now. With the world virtually in our pockets, we find it hard to imagine a life without our favourite gadgets. However, there was a time when technology was not as advanced as it is today. All the electronic devices we use now are the product of decades of research and refinement. Would you like to know how it all began? Here are some electronic devices that were an integral part of society in "simpler times". MITS Altair 8800 This was the first personal computer that was sold widely. Designed in 1974 and released in 1975 by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), it was based on the Intel 8080 CPU. Though the developers hoped to sell only a hundred, thousands were bought not only by enthusiasts, but also by individuals and businesses that needed it for work. However, to the modern eye, it came with its own set of troubles. It had neither a keyboard nor a monitor. Users wrote their own programs in machine language and had to depend on LEDs on the front panel, which would light up in response to their commands. A vintage Altair 8800 on eBay will cost you about Rs. 2,69,000, thanks to its history. Sony Walkman It is common to see people walking around with earphones, oblivious to the world around them. Although portable personal music has now become an essential part of our lives, it has however been absent for most part of human history - at least in common use. Enter Sony and its Walkman! The first portable music player to be sold commercially, its prototype was developed in 1978 and reached markets on July 1, 1979. Initially sold for around $150, this iconic device paved the way for a revolution in the world of music and portable music players. General Electric 'Monitor Top' Refrigerator The refrigerators available these days are energy-efficient multipurpose appliances, comprising two to three compartments and features such as water and ice dispenser, frost-free and so on. Can you imagine what the early fridges were like? The first domestic fridge that was widely used was released by the company General Electric in 1927. It was called the DA series of the Monitor Top Refrigerator. The all-steel single-door refrigerator had open copper tubing for the condenser and used sulphur dioxide as the refrigerant, which was highly toxic. Priced at $525, it sported traditional "furniture" legs which added to its charm. Polaroid Camera Model 95 When it comes to taking pictures, DSLRs rule the roost. But decades before their advent came the Polaroid Camera Model 95. It was the world's first instant-picture camera, popularly known as the Land Camera, after its inventor Edwin Land. Unveiled in 1947 and priced $89.95, it used a chemical process to produce finished prints from exposed negatives. The whole process took merely a minute, which was like magic to people who were used to waiting for days, or even weeks, for their photographs to develop in the dark room. Pager Do you remember the scene from the movie Home Alone 3 when Alex's parents get a message on their pager as soon as he calls the police to inform them about the burglars? That is one of the applications of this device. Bellboy radio paging, the first commercial system for personal paging, was invented by the Bell System, a U.S. telephone company, in 1962. Also known as beepers, they are small radio devices, activated from a central point, that beep or vibrate to let the owner know that he/she has received a small text message or that someone is trying to contact them. At a time when mobile phones were not available, it could be quite frustrating if one could not find a phone nearby to call back!

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