Tag Archives: Retro Gadgets

The Gadget Man – Episode 146 – Retro Gadget of the Week – Part 10 – Nintendo Game Boy

In the final episode of my Retro Gadget of the Week, I bring you the Nintendo Game Boy.

This is an exclusive episode which was never broadcast. I’d like to be able to say it was too hot for broadcast, but in reality, it never made it because of time constraints on BBC Radio Suffolk. But here it is in all its glory, exclusively available to your pleasure!

Nintendo Game Boy in front of Assorted Games Cartridges
Nintendo Game Boy in front of Assorted Games Cartridges

Nintendo Game Boy

The Game Boy was an 8-bit portable games console designed and built by Nintendo, it was released in Japan in 1989 and then 12 months later made it to the USA and Europe.

The console featured a green, greyscale screen, but excelled in battery life against its arch-rivals, the Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx. Along with an extremely durable case, both these features went towards beating it’s technically more advanced rivals.

The Game Boy came with the puzzle game, Tetris with later bundles including the legendary Super Mario Land, both were excellent games with fabulous soundtracks which didn’t become irritating.

The original Game Boy was a smash hit with gamers and went on to sell almost 65 million units. Nintendo kept gamers attention by releasing backwardly compatible upgraded units such as the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Light and Game Boy Advance.

As will other format wars, the gadget you least expect to win on paper is the victor and the Game Boy was certainly that, a truly great retro gadget which deserves to round off this series.

If you haven’t already, listen in to the stream as it contains 6 minutes of discussion about the Game Boy and its rivals and a little bit of history behind them.

Thanks to Matt Marvell at BBC Radio Suffolk for hosting my segment for the last 12 weeks and for producing this final one.

Don’t forget to Like, Share, Subscribe and Comment!!!

Gadget Man Episode 144 – Retro Gadget of the Week – Part 9 – 80s Home Computers

In our penultimate episode of Retro Gadget of the Week, we take a look at one the most revolutionary moments in computer history,  where an explosion of homegrown talent changed the very face of the personal computer marketplace and faced up directly the power of Silicon Valley with low-cost home computers designed in the UK

Commodore VIC20 Personal Computer
Commodore VIC20 Personal Computer, my first computer in all it’s 3.5k glory and 22 columns display

I was very lucky to receive a Commodore VIC20 personal computer for one of my birthdays in the 80s and proceeded to embrace coding head-on! Unlike other home computers, the VIC20 only supported it’s own tape drive, so instead of using our portable cassette play like my mates with Sinclair ZX Spectrums, I had to wait until I save enough money to buy my own Commodore Datasette.  This meant that every single program I wrote on the Vic was lost when the power was switched off, I either needed to write down my code or memorise it!

Alongside the American VIC20, a slew of other devices was released by UK based companies. The most famous was the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and ZX81. However, other notable UK made systems included the BBC Model B (built by Acorn), Dragon 32Amstrad CPC464, Apricot F1, Camputers Lynx, Gundy Newbrain, Jupiter Ace, Memotech MTX, Tangerine Oric 1 and many others.

Dragon 32
The Dragon 32 used the Motorola 6809 CPU

Almost all home computers of the era were based on the Zilog Z80 or MOS 6502 microprocessors with a small number going with the Motorola 6809 (which was more advanced that the Zilog and MOS processors).

The computers were generally self-contained devices, combining keyboards and computers as one with connectivity with colour or black and white TV’s which the user was generally expected to supply. Other peripherals were available such as tape drives, floppy disk drives, printers, joysticks and light-pens. Some models also supported plug-in cartridges which generally allowed the owner to play pre-programmed games.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 16K 48K
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K was the darling of the 80s market due to it’s price and range of games

The first to the market came with minute amounts of programmable RAM in the region of 1K to 5K, later entrants from the UK market settings with 16K or 32K with some stretching even further.  If I compare this to my Sony Xperia 1 mobile that I use today, this comes with 6 Gigabytes of RAM which is roughly 1,700,000 times more than my Commodore VIC!

Commodore 64 Personal Computer
The higher-end Commodore 64 Personal Computer with its sprite graphics, outstanding sound and award-winning games had a longer stay than most in the market
BASIC Code - Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code
An example of Commodore BASIC Code – Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code

Almost every computer came preloaded the BASIC (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language which allowed a new breed of programmers to begin crafting their own code. Although the basics of each version of BASIC remained similar, that’s where it ended, different hardware and firmware made each machine incompatible with the other. Having a market saturated with different devices which didn’t speak the same dialect was the architect of their demise.

BBC Micro Model B
The BBC Micro Model B, built by Acorn as a joint venture with BBC. It found it’s way into schools as the staple computer for education.

After 3 to 4 years, the majority of these computers had become obsolete and fell out of use leaving the BBC Model B surviving through use in UK schools, colleges and universities and the Commodore 64 which had become a glorified games console rather than a way for young people to gain computer experience.

IBM PC AT
The IBM_PC_AT and it’s lower cost clones swooped in and stole the market

Along came affordable IBM PC clones from Dell, Compaq, AST and Gateway which WERE compatible with each other. Users began migrating across to these PC compatibles and the market was replaced at home and office. It was the end of an era.

Without the likes of Commodore or Acorn, my life would have been very different, so I have to tip my hat to the 80s Home Computer!.

Listen in to the podcast above to find out more and don’t forget to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, SHARE and COMMENT!!!

See you next time

Matt
The Gadget Man
(Former Programmer of CBM Basic, BBC Basic, DataGeneral Basic, Testpoint Basix and Visual Basic)

Image Credits: Wikipedia

 

 

Gadget Man – Episode 142 – Retro Gadget Part 8 – Nokia 3310 Mobile Phone

We’re now on the home straight with the Retro Gadgets Series and what better classic gadget to feature but the legendary Nokia 3310 mobile phone.

This is certainly a gadget that needs very little introduction, after being introduced in 2000, the handset went on to sell more than 126,000,000 units. What’s more, the handset continues to be used in many households today.  I previously discussed the handset in Episode 98 with James Hazell.

Nokia’s new owners HMD relaunched the device in 2017 with a homage to the original device, attempting to capture a new market of low-cost mobile phones. This too was covered in Episode 102 with Mark Murphy.

The Nokia 3310 launches in the UK
The Original Nokia 3310 and the the 2017 HMD Nokia 3310 reboot

Today, however, it was the turn of Matt Marvell to listen to my lament about this classic piece of technology history.

You can listen in to the recording by clicking at the top of the post. Don’t forget to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, SHARE and most importantly COMMENT. I’ll catch up with you next time

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

Gadget Man – Episode 139 – Retro Gadgets Part 6 – The Breville Sandwich Toaster

We’re now at part six of the Retro Gadget series. This week I spoke to Matt Marvell at BBC Radio Suffolk about the absolutely amazing Breville Sandwich Toaster!

Many a Saturday lunchtime in my youth was provided by this gadget. Where I would mostly find my toasted sandwich contained ham, cheese and tomato, I found in later years there was a myriad of ingredients that could provide fillings to tantalise your taste-buds.

Toasted Sandwich
Toasted Sandwich

A great idea, place two buttered slices of bread in the toaster with the filling of your choice ‘sandwiched ‘ between them. Lock down the plates and wait for the light to turn green. Hey Presto! The meal of your dreams.

You can listen in to the audio stream to find out what I thought above the Sandwich Toaster and it’s cousin, the Waffle Iron.

In the meantime, I’ve done a bit of research into more adventurous Toasted Sandwich fillings:-

Takeaway Curry Sandwiches – Now this appeals to me, I used to be a great fan of Curry-on-toast, the night after a takeaway, so taking the idea a step further with a Curry Sandwich, sounds delicious!

Spaghetti Bolognese Sandwiches – Similar to the former, I’ve tried this on toast too! I bet it tastes amazing!

Cheese and Marmite Toastie – I’ve tried this and can confirm it’s lovely! Assuming you like Marmite.

Peanut Butter and Marmite Toastie – I love Peanut Butter and Marmite on toast for breakfast and can imagine having the ingredients toasted in a sealed package would be very nice indeed.

Cheese and Pineapple Toastie – This sounds divine! OK, I’m off to make one for myself, where’s the pineapple?

If you enjoy a toasted sandwich? Let me know, what’s your favourite filling, comment below and let me know.

Don’t have a Sandwich Toaster? You can buy one at our Amazon Store by clicking below


Don’t forget to Like, Subscribe and Share and I will see you soon.

Happy Toasting!!

Matt

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Image by Rebecca Humann from Pixabay

Gadget Man – Episode 137 – Retro Gadgets Part 5 – VHS vs Betamax

We reach the fifth part of our series on Retro Gadgets and in this one, we focus on the 1st Format Wars where VHS fought Betamax for dominance in the VCR format battle for supremacy.

During the ’80s, video entertainment came home with the introduction of the Video Cassette Recorder and with it came competing standards.

The Format Wars - Betamax vs VHS
The Format Wars – Betamax vs VHS

The main standards were Sony’s Betamax and JVC’s VHS. Both were looking for market dominance, but who was to win?

Find out what happened and how we still witness mega-corporation format rules today.

Click on the play button above and don’t forget to subscribe using the widget above and I will see you very soon.

Matt

Gadget Man – Episode 133 – Alexa is now reading Bedtime Stories

In this podcast episode, I speak to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about reports that Smart Speakers are now taking parents places by reading stories to children.

Intelligent Assistant Smart Speaker
Intelligent Smart Speakers are now taking over parental responsibilities in some cases.

BookTrust surveyed 1000 parents and discovered that 25% have used Alexa or Siri to read stories to their children.

Here I discuss the survey with Mark and how the changing face of parenting has lead to the use of smart speakers to step-in when parenting becomes too busy.

You can listen in to the episode by clicking on the play button above, or subscribe using your favourite podcast app by clicking the subscribe button.

Thanks for reading and listening in and see you next time.

Matt