Old technology

It’s always fun, as well as informative, to look at photos or videos to check out the technology used, especially if the photo or video is old. In this video of Jimmy Nail’s Ain’t No Doubt, from 1992, I’ve spotted several examples of “retro” technology. Perhaps you or your students can spot more?

Here’s what struck me:

  • The Mercury phone booth. These were pretty slick at the time, as they used a phone card. Not sure what happened to the company, but it’s all BT now as far as telephone kiosks in Britain are concerned.
  • The phone switchboard, which is mechanical, not digital like nowadays.
  • The instruments: they’re all “real”, not electronic.
  • People are wearing wristwatches.

So what, you might ask. I think this sort of exercise can act as a stimulus for discussion. For example:

  • What’s significant about wristwatches? A lot of (young) people don’t use them, because everything they need is right there on their smartphone.
  • What happened to Mercury? Would it be worthwhile trying to set up a phone booth company in a country like the UK now?
  • How is digital music like the horns section different from music played on actual brass instruments? For example, if you recorded both in Audacity, would the sound wave patterns look different?
  • Creative writing: could any of the technology seen be used as a basis for a story or other flights of imagination?

I can think of several ways in which you could use this video to explore themes in business studies, social studies, history and other subjects. If you have any ideas too, please say!

Anyway, here is the video:

If you wish to go even further back in time,look at this video of Meade Lux Lewis. Check out:


  • The kitchen appliances: no sign of anythng digital there!
  • The phones.
  • Anything else?


Here's that video:

Enhanced by Zemanta