One of my first electronic loves, sometime in the 1970′s – the Simon game:
I remember trying to fit it in the pocket of my big winter coat, busting seams, to take it with me everywhere. I turned off the sound and hid it under my coat to play it while sitting in church (and hoping I wouldn’t get caught). It was a simple game — turn it on, hit start, hit the buttons in the order that the lights lit up. Each sequence would get longer and faster as the game went on. I remember playing it ad nauseum.
I can’t remember any handheld gaming devices in the 1980′s — I played games on computers (OSI, Commodore, Apple) in that decade.
When I finished my degrees at University of Washington in 1993, I started working for McCaw Cellular, and I was given a tan Motorola brick. My first cellphone looked something like this:
I took it everywhere. Like the Follow Me game, it didn’t fit well in a pocket. Then I got an upgrade to a Motorola Flip phone – the MicroTac. After lugging around the brick, the MicroTac was like a feather, and it was digital! TDMA, and dual-mode, was all the new rage in 1994.
In 1994 I got Apple’s Newton Messagepad 110 and, because I worked for a cellular company, I also got a cellular modem for it (14.4k) that fit in the PCMCIA slot and gave me ethernet connectivity (there wasn’t much to connect to on the internet in 1994 – I used to telnet to books.com to buy books online). I kept my addressbook and calendar on this hunk of gadget love and I absolutely adored it. I still have it and it still turns on and works. It’s a time capsule of my life in the mid-1990′s when I look at the calendar and notes still stored in it.
My next gadget was a Motorola Pagewriter with two-way Skytel paging, basically wireless instant messaging for the mid-1990′s. It had a phone number and an email address and I could respond 100 or so characters at a time. It got news alerts! It kept an addressbook! I felt like I had a bit of freedom but I was carrying 3 rather large devices — the Motorola flip phone, the Newton Messagepad, and the Motorola two-way pager.
When I met Moya in 1997, when we were first dating, we sent fast and furious short emails back and forth to her one-way pager, my two-way pager, our email addresses. Accidentally leaving my Newton Messagepad at her apartment was my version of “forgetting” a watch or earring.
In 1999, the Handspring Visor came out and I got one to replace my Newton. Like the transition from Motorola Brick to Flip, the Visor was wafer compared to the Newton’s heft. Moving contacts/calendar from Newton to Visor was the first time I felt the frustration of moving data from one gadget’s format to another.
I followed up the Visor with a Treo 180, my first smartphone, which then was upgraded to a Treo 600, my first smartphone with a color screen and a camera, and then a Treo 700. The Treo 700 was my absolute favorite and still is.
These days I usually carry around one or more of these but none of them inspire the thumb-numbing obsession of my first electronic Simon game or the thrill of first connecting to the internet wirelessly with my newton messagepad:
- Motorola Droid (not so old but already a relic compared with newer droids)
- iPhone 4 with a Simon game on it
- hackintosh dell mini