My world really began in the late '70s. Yes, I was born then, but what I'm talking about is the beginnings of this age of gadgets. The seeds of digital happened while I was in diapers, and analog was alive.
I recall my brushes with '70s technology in the form of VHS and Betamax (we had both) and my father's record collection, which I one day thought would make fascinating Frisbees which would explode on landing on the fireplace mantle. A rather limited experience, as where I was just barely gaining child like consciousness, the tech was already moving.
All of the foundations of the gadget world that came about at the time: portable audio, internet connectivity, cellular phones, packaged video, optical discs, hell, even GPS sats were being launched around then. At the same time, the most important piece of the puzzle, the newborn personal computer was already being sold.
The Gizmodo staff is young. Mostly everything I know about 1970s tech is from books written when I was watching He Man on TV. And so, we look to the best storytellers and historians of our age to give us recollection of what it was like, and why we should be appreciative for the greatness that is technology in the year 2009.
Steven Levy is the most poetic of all technology writers, in my esteem, and Wired's spared him some time so he can share stories with us. (Thanks Chris!) He has been at the front of most curves, writing books on the power of the spreadsheet, the Mac, the iPod and hackers, before it was clear to the rest of the world that these would become world-changing things (as well as locating Einstein's missing preserved brain). So, his memories of life with tech in the '70s will come from him as an every day man, written by someone who never ceases to see the magic in tech.
Secondly, we have engineer by training and historian by trade, Dag Spicer. Dag put his PHd track in History of Science (with a PHd minor in electrical engineering) at Stanford on pause to lead the Computer History Museum's curation, and he'll relay to us what the state of the network was back then.
Dag also wrote the intro to a beautiful book called Core Memory, which we'll be excerpting.
Then we have a design legend, Hartmut Esslinger, from frogdesign, who created the supremely influential Wega/Sony designs from the '70s, and then went on to develop the Snow White design language adopted by Apple in the 1980s. He's going to tell us about what it was like to design back then, compared to now.
Lastly, in order to transform Gizmodo into a living 1979 version of itself, I'm open to tapping into the brains of you, our readers. If you have fond memories of old gadget, news, ads, gadgets reviews or stories, let me know by email or drop them in the comments here. We'll promote them to the front page under your byline if the stuff fits. So, what do you think Gizmodo would look like in 1979?
Gizmodo '79 is a week-long celebration of gadgets and geekdom 30 years ago, as the analog age gave way to the digital, and most of our favorite toys were just being born.