Not all of history has to be ancient. Much of the technology that has become the center of how we communicate, game, and find information has developed over time, although it seems as if the advancements have accelerated in the field of technology. Vintage Technology is a site that seeks to showcase the evolution of devices in our lives through the archiving of old advertisements from the 1950s.
A fun component of the site is a game called “hit or miss” in which the reader has to determine whether a product survived the marketplace or fell into the dustbin of history. (A binocular radio from 1961? Apparently, a hit. A mushroom iron from 1951? It’s a miss.) The site has many different links and interesting paths to the history of technology, although it has a definite British tone that indicates the site’s origins.
Also fun — the site does a fascinating study of a British company called Ultra that began marketing its “new technology” products back in the 1920s.
In the Classroom
A site such as Vintage Technology reminds us that not every product makes its way into the hands of consumers, and sometimes a product’s success or failure is merely a matter of luck and timing. For every iPod, there’s a scrap heap of portable music players. The Hit or Miss Game provides an opportunity to discuss why a product may have caught on (design, need, the era, etc.) and perusing the advertisements of yesteryear also gives insight into the rhetorical devices used by writers at advertisement agencies.