Do You Still Love the Walkman?

The latest version of Sony’s Walkman, the first portable music player released in 1979, is nothing like the original cassette player that came with foam headphones. Instead, the latest Walkman is a digital music player that costs $ 1,600 or $ 3,200.

This may not be a big seller. The Nokia and BlackBerry phones that lived on – at least until recently – have long since become devices for those of us who remember them.

I wanted to know: Who likes technology that is longer than its prime? Well, those guys are like Chris Freelick.

The board partner with start-up investment firm First Round remembers buying a Sony PlayStation portable video game device on eBay in 2004 when it was only available in Japan. At a party, he pulled a device out of his shirt pocket and the crowd turned.

“It was like he was beaming from the future,” Frilick told me on the phone this week, as he held an old PSP in his hand.

For you, this type of stuff can be obsolete junk. For enthusiasts like Freelick, technology gadgets have a history – the lives of collectors, the tech industry, the United States or all of the above.

“It all tells a story,” Freelick said. “I’ve used and sold this stuff and I’ve loved it ever since it first came out. It’s nice to look back and realize how important it was. “

For the past 40 years or more, Freelick has converted his third-floor attic into a personal museum to store thousands of his technology devices and memorabilia.

Yes, Frelick has multiple versions of the old school Walkman and Sony’s Discman CD player. (He emailed me a photo as evidence.) His collection also includes the DEC PDP-11 minicomputer, nicknamed R2-D2, which Freelick admits is painful to move.

They have pieces of the original “Blue Box” electronic device that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak put together – before they set up Apple Computer – to hack telephone lines. His collection includes a number of phones, including the Gordon Gecko-style monster and the Soviet-era “yellow phone” designed to connect with the Kremlin.

Technology is advancing rapidly by its very nature, and often there is no time or inclination to look back. But many old tech gadgets never really die. Instead, they live in nostalgia products like Sony’s Note-Walkman and in the garages and attics of lovers who believe PSP was the coolest thing ever.

Addison del Maestro’s love of Japanese 1970s cassette tape changers and old clock radios is not about personal nostalgia. Del Maestro, who writes newsletters on urbanism and land use, is 28 years old and has rarely run that stuff himself.

But Dale Maestro said that when he was a teenager, he brought home a discarded radioshake clock radio with foxwood paneling and a cassette player from his local recycling center. “I plugged in the thing, and it worked.” It was hooked.

Del Maestro said he appreciates the creativity and craftsmanship of decades-old consumer electronics, as well as their ability to understand how things work.

“You can open that spinning cassette player since 1970, and any ordinary person can understand what’s going on,” he told me. “It connects your brain and your hands. That experience is absent in many modern technologies or devices.”

Adam Minter said he began hearing about a decade ago from electronics recyclers who were getting calls from people eager to buy obsolete personal computers. They offered a lot more money for raw materials like gold than PCs.

Minter, a former colleague of mine who has written two books about the second life of our content, said those phone calls were mostly from collectors who invented every computer chip made by Intel or other manufacturers. “It sounds weird, but, really, is it?” Minter said. “You’re collecting these artifacts from our technological age.”

Of course, there are collectors and enthusiasts for everything. Would you like vintage backlight jewelry or a 1970s Italian bicycle? Technology gadgets that inspire wonder and lust are no different. Talking to people for this newsletter made me feel like I was lost in a very clumsy subculture, and I would probably never get out again.

“When you open up this crazy world, I’m a little player in it,” Freelick said. “There are people out there who are naughty about this stuff.”


Tip of the week

If you are in the US and planning a trip abroad, Brian X ChenAs a New York Times Personal Technology columnist, you have covered.

Taking a smartphone abroad can be a bad experience for Americans.

International data plans from US phone carriers like Verizon and AT&T often work well – but not cheaply. In many other countries it adds up to પ્રવા 10 per day for long trips to use your phone, and travel plans sometimes limit the data you’re using to view online maps, restaurants, and tourist attractions.

Over the years, I have tried many options on international travel. I’ve found mixed results with eSIMs – essentially a digital method of instructing your smartphone to connect to a foreign cellular network as soon as you reach it.

In Thailand, the eSIM I bought doesn’t work. When I tried to contact customer support, no one spoke English. On the other hand, when I was in Canada, I used an eSIM that works very well but it was on the expensive side – $ 40 for a gigabyte of data. And eSIM may not work on every smartphone.

In my experience, the most foolproof and inexpensive way to carry a smartphone abroad is to purchase a physical SIM card from a major carrier at your travel destination.

When I moved to Japan about five years ago, I ordered some DoCoMo SIM cards loaded with one gigabyte of data for $ 20 each. SIM cards – small pieces of plastic that slot into your phone and contain instructions for the Internet and phone service network – were delivered to my home before my trip.

When I arrived in Japan, I popped out my Verizon SIM card, replaced it with DoCoMo, and followed the instructions to activate the service. It worked great, and if something went wrong, I had the option to go to the DoCoMo store in Japan to ask for help.

(Plan ahead and make sure you can use your phone outside the US and if you use an eSIM or SIM card abroad, you may not have access to your regular telephone number or SMS text.)

  • Blasting is more fun than running Amazon: Bloomberg’s Brad Stone investigates Jeff Bezos, who retired as Amazon’s chief executive last year and now spends most of his time focusing on his private space company, his personal life and his climate philanthropy. Don’t miss the details about the Bezos matching jumpsuit. (Subscription may be required.)

  • Wired spoke with Rafaela Vasquez, who was behind the wheel of an Uber self-driving test car in 2018 when she hit and killed a pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg. Vasquez is facing criminal charges, and is at the center of a debate over who to blame for the deaths caused by the computerized car. (Subscription may be required.)

  • The GasBuddy app is a privacy nightmare. From The New York Times Wirecuter Product Review site, here are the options for finding cheap gas.

Please enjoy this Sparkly Horse Mosaic At the New York subway station.


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