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The Surprising Resurgence of Old-School Technology In An Age Of Digital




A record dealer in Wanted Records in St Nicholas Market puts on a vinyl record on the shop's turntable on October 14, 2015 in Bristol, England.
A record dealer in Wanted Records in St Nicholas Market puts on a vinyl record on the shop's turntable on October 14, 2015 in Bristol, England.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

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 “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see,” Winston Churchill once said, regarding the importance of studying history.

These days, the same could be said of modern technology. Advances in digital tech have made phones into personal epicenters that can monitor babies, give us the latest news, browse millions of songs, and (on occasion) make calls. Yet as it turns out, all that convenience may not be that satisfying. 

As writer Sophie Haigney describes in an article for Vox, a modern surge of interest in retro technology is defying the conveniences of digital. Walkmans, iPods, vinyl records and cassette tapes—which all experienced a fall from grace in the wake of more streamlined devices—have remained relevant in part due to the tactile experience that these items grant their owners. Young artists like 17-year-old pop star Billie Eilish, who was born after the first iPod debuted, are now selling their music in cassettes sold by major teen retailers. Some retro tech enthusiasts are collectors that say that the pleasure gained from owning objects like DVDs and CDs cannot be matched by a digital library. Others describe how tactile experiences like putting a vinyl record on a record player force them to slow down and appreciate the experience more deeply. 

Are you a fan of retro technology? We want to hear your thoughts. To join the conversation, call 866-893-5722.

Guest:

Sophie Haigney, freelance writer who authored the Vox article, “The Enduring Allure of Retro Tech”; she tweets @SophieHaigney