Why Do People Love Vintage Technology?

What do you think is behind the movements to repopularize vintage technology?


What do you think is behind the movements to repopularize vintage technology: feature phone movements, listening to vinyl versus digital music, old video games, et cetera. 

 We were talking about a culture of the word, right? That God speaks the word from all eternity, but then the word became flesh.

And I think sometimes people just . . . they like to hold some of these things, you know, like they really want to have a very tangible experience. And I think that’s something that can feel lost and that some of these vintage things I think are trying to recover. 

Yeah, for sure. And in the vintage technology space, even one I’m inhabiting right now, there’s a big kind of vintage computing movement where people are, you know, technologists typically are going back and even some non technologists are going back and building reproductions of things like the original apple one computer or the original apple two computer, right?

This is, you know, based on technology that at this point is 50 years old, right? And it’s a far cry from what our smartphones do now. But one of the things that I’ve observed . . . I’m actually doing a project right now where I’m building from scratch, on breadboards, a 6502 computer. It’s the same microprocessor that was at the heart of the Apple one and the Apple two, the original Nintendo number of these kinds of classic devices.

And, I think at least for me, what’s been so interesting about making this leap is that we have the benefit of so much abstraction, you know, to the point about the difference between digital music and vinyl. We have the benefits of so much abstraction. If you’re a modern programmer today, you fire up your development environment and you write “hello world” and boom, hello world prints on the screen.

But if you want to write hello world on the screen on a 6502 microprocessor, it’s probably going to take you about 20, 30 hours first of actually getting the machine put together and then writing not just one line of code to print “hello world”, but hundreds of lines of code to print  hello, world”. And I think that the thing that’s interesting about these kinds of vintage movements is it is about getting back down to a root level of sort of encountering the piece of technology and we have the benefit of so much abstraction that allows our technology to be stronger. 

It’s abstract. We’re far away from what’s actually happening down at the bottom. And I think these kinds of vintage technology movements just kind of speak to a very primordial desire, like Jared said, to hold something in your hand, but also to actually understand how it works. I think another part of that is because modern technology is so good, so powerful.

It feels like magic even to those who know a thing or two about what’s happening underneath.

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