Retro-Gadget: 1985 Argos Catalog Scanned

Be prepared to lose a day to Anthony Voz’s scans of a 1985 consumer goods catalog. Photos Anthony Voz ‘ Flickr

How did the world look back in 1985? While Marty McFly was trying to get Back to the Future, I was probably longing after the kinds of gadgets found in the Argos catalog, a UK store which sells pretty much everything — including gadgets.

And now you, too, can take a look at the state of the consumer tech art from 26 years ago, thanks to an epic project by Anthony Voz. Voz took the 1985 edition of the Argos catalog, scanned every page and posted the results to Flickr. In amongst the lawn chairs and leather goods are the gizmos of yesteryear.

Argos — still going today — is a weird kind of store. The small showroom uses paper catalogs. You browse, write down the number of the item you like and hand the slip to a cashier. You pay, and they give you a number. Then, somewhere in the bowels of the building, somebody grabs your item and sends it up to the showroom, whereupon it is delivered to you at an in-store counter.

The magic of this setup is that a small, city-center store can carry a huge range of goods. And back in 1985, these goods were Commodore 64s, electric typewriters and cheap-o Sony Walkman knock-offs.

If you were a kid during the 80s, you’re going to waste an afternoon looking at the nostalgia-fest. And if you’re younger, take a look at what we used to spend out money on before iPods and cellphones. Amazing.

Vintage British Argos 1985 Catalogue [Anthony Voz / Flickr via Retro Thing]

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Trek Belleville Gets You Around in Style

The Belleville isn’t what you’d expect from Trek, but it’s pretty gorgeous anyway

This handsome machine is part of Trek’s 2012 lineup. It’s called the Belleville, and the bike itself is as elegant as the name when it comes to getting you and your stuff around the city.

The Belleville lands somewhere between an old-style tourer and a Dutch-style city bike, although the build itself is all modern. It has three speeds hidden inside the rear hub (Shimano Nexus), and a 6v dynamo inside the front one. Rider-friendly features include full-coverage fenders, dynamo-powered lights, a chain-guard and front-and-rear racks and a long-lasting (and very comfortable) steel frame.

In short, if you want to get around in comfort and style (but don’t need to carry the bike up five flights of stairs when you get home), this is designed for you.

The Belleville costs $720, which seems pretty good until you realize that many of the features are optional. Racks, fenders and lights will cost extra, but this price is also the MSRP, so you should check things out at your local bike shop when these start to turn up.

Belleville product page [Trek via Urban Velo]

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Giant wall console lets you Game & Watch while you wait

Before there was a 3DS and DS — heck, before there was a Game Boy, there was Game & Watch, Nintendo’s portable, sometimes dual-screened gaming line from the ’80s. But while the gaming giant has long since moved on, nostalgia for their platform-based frustration lives on in the form of this large piece of interactive wall art, a case that uses an Arduino and Python script to bring folks with a little spare time the sort of retro gaming that will make them long from the graphical power of the original NES. Check out more images of the device in the Source link below.

Giant wall console lets you Game & Watch while you wait originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 24 Sep 2011 10:44:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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‘What Was There’ project adds a pinch of history to augmented reality

So, it works as such. You dig up ancient photos — a few generations prior, or even a few decades ago — scan ’em in, and tag them to their rightful place on Google Maps. Then, folks who visit the ‘What Was Here’ project website or download the iOS app (all linked below) will be able to see what kind of world they’d be living in if Uncle Rico’s time machine actually worked. ‘Course, the initiative needs you, you and you to participate if it’s to be dubbed a success, so we’d recommend using whatever’s left of your weekend to contribute. And then send your mum a “thinking of you” letter using the very map you’re improving. Who said retro had to be retro, anyway?

‘What Was There’ project adds a pinch of history to augmented reality originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 18 Sep 2011 16:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Atari Arcade is the $60 answer to iCade (review)

Yearning to relive the classics (Lunar Lander, anyone?) on your iPad, replete with that authentic arcade feel? It wasn’t long ago that we reviewed ThinkGeek and Ion’s formidable iCade, but at $100, it was — and still is — a pricey portion to stomach for an occasional retro gaming fix. Fast forward to the present, and Atari’s paired with Discovery Bay Games to create their own official spin on an iPad arcade adapter, fittingly dubbed the Arcade Duo-Powered Joystick. Unlike the iCade, it doesn’t use Bluetooth and requires no batteries — you simply dock your iPad into its 30-pin connector. The joypad is specifically made to work with Atari’s Greatest Hits app, and it’s set to land in early October for a slightly more wallet-friendly price of $60. We were able to slam its controls a bit while playing through various levels of Major Havoc and the like, and you’ll find our impressions after the break.

Continue reading Atari Arcade is the $60 answer to iCade (review)

Atari Arcade is the $60 answer to iCade (review) originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 07 Sep 2011 16:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Limited Edition Restored Polaroid SX-70 Available

These are likely to sell out in no time, but if you’re in the market for a beautiful old Polaroid camera, then Photojojo has managed to round up a small batch of SX-70s and will let you have one for $290.

The SX-70 was “The original, wondrous, never-to-be-topped SX-70. The first folding SLR, the first camera to take integral instant film, only made up until 1977.” Photojojo acquired them through Hong Kong-based MINT, who presumably constructed a time machine to go back and pick these up, and then restored them so they’re as good as new.

The specs of this metal-and-vinyl piece of art as as bad as you’d expect of a camera from the dark days of the 1970s: the fixed 116mm lens starts at a squint-inducing ƒ8, and the fastest shutter speed is 1-175th/sec — you won’t be shooting action or low-light photos with this camera.

But then, this is a camera that never needed to be fast: you could have spent a day taking a shot and you’d still have it back faster than the schmucks who had to get their films processed at the local drugstore.

And thanks to the Impossible Project, there is still film available for the camera, at $22 for ten frames.

No, it’s not cheap, but the SX-70 is a piece of history, and also a beautifully made artifact the like of which we never see today.

Limited Edition Polaroid SX-70 [Photojojo]

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Jean Michelle Jarre’s 11-Foot Tall iPad Speaker Dock Is Impractically Awesome

One of these speakers is 11-feet tall, the other just 3.5 feet. Can you tell which is which?

Do you have €400,000 ($562,000) lying around? Well, you might want to do something about that, especially if it’s on the kitchen table, you have windows open and it’s a breezy day. And if you’re a complete moron, I have just the thing to waste it on: Jean Michele Jarre’s AeroDream One, aka “The ultimate tower station for iPod, iPad and iPhone.”

Possibly the best thing about the AeroDream One is the publicity photo, featuring a grinning Jarre climbing a (built-in) ladder to put his iPad into the top of the 11-foot behemoth. Why the hell is the slot on the top?

The answer is that this isn’t the real AeroDream One. It is a ginat-sized, fully-functioning replica to be used to (shrewdly) drum up interest in the actual €400 AeroDream One, a three-year-old product. But before we get to that, you want to see the specs of this monster, right?

The tower has an 18-inch subwoofer, a pair of 12-inch mid-range drivers and two three-inch tweeters. These are driven by a 10,000-watt, five channel amp. Inputs come via jack, 30-pin iPhone dock, USB and XLR, and there’s an HDMI output. The whole lot weighs 395 kilos, or 871 pounds.

Is anyone else thinking about Marty McFly cranking up the guitar amp in Doc Brown’s workshop right now?

The more practical version is just over a meter high (3.6 feet), and packs a 60-watt sub and a pair of 30-watt tweeters. It too has a 30-pin dock up top, along with a 3.5mm jack and USB port. It weighs a mere 14kg, or 31 pounds — barely enough to crush a dog if it falls, let alone a human.

I’m not sure if I’m in the market for a $500+ speaker dock just to play crappy MP3s, but once I saw the photo of 1980s legend JMJ up a ladder I had no choice but to write this post. The only thing that could be better would be the same photo, only with David Hasselhoff on a matching speaker ladder, and both of them giving a double thumbs-up. Tell me you wouldn’t pay to see that.

AeroSystem One product page (small) [Jarre via New Launches and Oh Gizmo!]

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Fujifilm X10 Officially Official, Unofficially Retro-Hot

Built like a tank, and with a proper viewfinder, the X10 reminds us of film cameras of yesteryear

As expected, Fujifilm has announced its much-leaked X10 compact, the little brother of the much-liked X100. As we saw yesterday, the specs put it into direct competition with the Canon G12, Nikon P7100 and Lumix LX5.

We already knew about the top ISO of 12,800, the 2.8-inch 460,000-dot LCD and 4x zoom, but now we have the rest of the specs. First, the body is made from magnesium alloy and the knobs and dials are all knurled aluminum. The viewfinder is big and bright and — judging by the amount of copy it gets in the press release — as good as those on film cameras. This alone will make the camera a must buy for some folks.

Continuing with the hardware, the lens starts at ƒ2.0 and only rises to ƒ2.8 when zoomed all the way out. The zoom range is 28-112mm (35mm equivalent), and the zoom is manual, controlled by turning a ring around the lens. Strike two to Fujifilm. This is a total winner.

The LCD is small by modern standards, but then you might not be using it much

Strike three is the short, short shutter lag — just ten milliseconds. Nikon’s D3 has a reported lag of 40 milliseconds, so you can see that this is pretty impressive.

The only thing that really lets the camera down is the sensor, a 2/3-inch 12 megapixel chip. This is the same size that you’ll find in the rivals listed above, so it makes sense, but it would be nice to have something slightly larger, if only to give a shallower depth of field.

Then again, I shouldn’t complain. The X10 thrashes the competition in many other ways. Oh, and it shoots 1080p video, too. Fujifilm hasn’t revealed the price yet, but you can bet it won’t be far beyond the $500 charged by Nikon, Canon and Panasonic in this part of the market.

Fujifilm X10 press release [Fujifilm]

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HP Makes Special Edition of 30-Year-Old 12c Calculator

The new 12c is as hard to fathom as the old one. Photos HP

HP may or may not be dumping its PC business, and it may have messed up its hardware future in a post-PC world, but the company still knows what’s important. A new handheld from the Palo Alto company is set to rock the miniature tablet world. Behold: The HP 12c Financial Calculator 30th Anniversary Edition.

Above you see the 30-year old original (left) and the new version, side by side. The tiny calculator was used by bean counters who apparently loved its shirt-pocket size, accurate calculations and the fact that you can use it in CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exams (the other permitted calculator is the Texas Instruments BA II Plus).

I have a vague memory of owning one of these, although I’m not sure why. And I’m absolutely certain that I didn’t know how to use it. Put a scientific calculator in front of me and I’ll rip through cosines, tangents and non base 10 math as if I were still in school. But put the 12c on my desk my eyes will roll back in my head at the thought of Reverse Polish Notation and Zzzzzz. Uh. Sorry. You see?

The Anniversary Edition is exactly the same as the original, but for the writing on the front and a laser-etched production number on the back. You’ll be able to pick one up for $80, or around the same as a TouchPad (Sorry. Couldn’t resist).

The HP-12C turns 30, Goes Limited Edition. Thanks, Greta! [HP]

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Original Apple TV Becomes Elegant Nixie Clock

The now good-for-nothing Apple TV v1 gets a new job. Photo Daniel Kurth

Way back in the misty depths of 2009, we brought news of Daniel Kurth’s concrete Nixie clock. Now Kurth has been at it again, only he’s using an even more dead and useless base for his clock than the original concrete: Behold, the Apple TV Nixie Clock.

Kurth’s project uses the original, giant-sized Apple TV with its guts removed and its acrylic lid replaced with a machined PVC version. Into this lid are sunk the Nixie tubes– glowing, flickering digital numbers from the Cold War era. From these tubes you (somehow) decode the time. A controller inside lets you set 12 or 24-hour modes, a push-button dims the lights and a mains cable snakes out to power the whole thing.

This is a fitting end for the hot, slow old Apple TV. Its graceful lines perfectly complement the old-style tubes just as well as they complemented the lines of the modern plasma TV to which it used to be connected, proving that good design is timeless, even if the tech inside isn’t.

Recycled Apple TV 1 Nixie Clock [Kurth via Yanko]

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