Our first tech loves
It's Valentine's Day, and we at techradar felt it only right to reflect on the technology that we first fell in love with.
These are the pieces of tech that took our breath away, that we cherished, spent hours of our lives with and that still hold special places in our hearts. It's the computers, consoles, cameras and more that opened our eyes to the wonders of technology, and hooked us for good.
Alright, enough with the sap. Here's our first tech loves. What's yours?
Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Rubber keys, an iconic splash of color across its little black box and stamped with words that I had never seen before - the Sinclair's ZX Spectrum stole my (and my British generation's) heart.
Bundled with breakout clone Thro' the Wall and ready to soak up any basic command you could be bothered to type in, the Spectrum and the earlier ZX 81 represented our first foray into the world of personal computers.
And, oh, the games: Manic Miner, Chuckie Egg, Football Manager, Sim City, Populus and, of course, Elite, all loaded painstakingly from tape on a tape player that you had to provide yourself because it wasn't bundled. Legendary names, legendary games and a legendary early entry in the world of computers.
With its translucent chassis, dinky dimensions and a clip-on screen magnifier with built-in lights, I absolutely loved my GameBoy Pocket. It went everywhere with me in a serious carry case for the GameBoy, clip-on magnifier, spare AAA batteries, wall plug and a number of game cartridges. As you can tell, I was pretty darn cool in my youth.
My top games were Pokemon Red, Blue & Yellow, Pitfall and Super Mario Bros - and I lost many, many hours to all of them. Worth it.
Image credit: Bryan Ochalla/Flickr (this image was cropped)
We had some wood-veneered Pong-y console while I was gaining some measure of conscious thought as a child, but it was the later ColecoVision arcade games machine which really started me down the path of video games addict.
Zaxxon was the word in isometric shooting and even my mum got in on the gaming with the Pacman rip-off, Lady Bug. But it was the awesome Turbo, with its separate steering wheel and pedal peripheral, which really stole my heart. My Commodore Vic 20 made me a geek, but the ColecoVision made me a gamer.
Commodore Amiga 500+
The big beige box looked beautiful to me back in 1990. It came with Bart Simpson vs the Space Mutants, which my blew my mind with its animated intro video - a rarity at the time. I didn't own a console until the Sega Saturn five years later, so the Amiga took care of multiplayer duty for years. It had a massive and varied game library packed with classics such as Qwak, Golden Axe, Jim Power, Desert Storm, Elf and many more. To this day I regret letting it go.Matt Hanson - How To Editor
Like Kane my first tech love was the brilliant Amiga A500+. I can still remember unwrapping the box on Christmas Day 1991, my eyes scanning the brightly coloured cardboard box - I had gotten the Cartoon Classics bundle which came with Bart Simpson vs The Space Mutants, Lemmings and Captain Planet.
When I returned to school after the holidays I amazed all my friends with talk of The Simpsons - which back then only people in the UK who had satellite would have seen. The only spare TV we had in the house was a black and white CRT, but when we finally got a colour TV the full beauty of the Amiga A500+'s graphics were revealed. A really special machine that unlike Kane I have held on to and still plug in and play regularly. Except the Captain Planet game. That was RUBBISH.
Yeah, yeah. In retrospect, a calculator isn't all that exciting. But even this most primordial piece of technology impressed me at a young age. Before I got my hands on the original GameBoy, I was just bewildered that I could press a buttons to make things appear on a screen.
Once I figured out how to do math, calculators quickly became my least favorite technology ever. Nevertheless, I've got to give it credit as my gateway into tech.
This was my first, honest-to-goodness computer, a hand-me-down from an aunt and uncle of mine way back in about 1993 - ironically, the exact year that the Apple IIe was discontinued. But six-year-old Joe didn't know any better. He saw infinite possibility in that green screen, floppy drive, cacophonous keyboard and spool printer.
Sure, "infinite possibility" then meant way better projects and book reports than my classmates could muster, not to mention countless games of Burger Time and The Oregon Trail. Regardless, the Apple IIe sparked a lifelong interest in computers and is partly to thank for my opportunity to write this very sentence.
From learning BASIC to get my Commodore to type stupid things, to waiting 20 minutes for a tape to load up a game, the Commodore 64 was my first computer and I absolutely adored it. I have no idea why I chose it over the much more popular ZX Spectrum but the way it displayed 16 (count 'em) colors, played superior music soundtracks and had a whopping 64KB of memory meant that as a child I had one of the most advanced computers on the planet. And all I wanted to do was play Dizzy on it!
Canon Rebel XTi
When I first started dabbling with photography, it wasn't anything serious. At the time I was toying around with a point-and-shoot camera, taking it out every so often on a few short and often torrid outings. It wasn't until I got the Canon Rebel XTi that my love affair with photography really started to take off. The DSLR opened my mind to a whole new world of possibilities with interchangeable lenses, capturing action, taking long exposures and so on. Ultimately, we grew apart and I met other cameras, but I'll always remember my learning experience with my first DSLR.
I've had a few meaningful relationships with certain bits of tech, devices that when I think about them take me back to a certain time and place. My Nokia brick phone, for instance, was MY first phone, my lifeline to friends and family as I navigated the choppy waters of high school (and played endless hours of Snake). But my first real tech love was my family's electric green iMac G3.
It was the first truly communal computer we owned, and it held a reverential place in our house, welcoming all who powered it on with a soothing chime. Everyone in my family of seven, from my parents to my youngest brother, could use it for work, study or play (though we were very much divided on whether the color was cool or hideous). On it, I chatted with friends, honed my typing skills, did a traumatizing amount of homework and, finally, sent off my college applications. I have no idea where it ended up, but it still gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Image credit: Nafija.shabani/Wikimedia Commons
Tandy 1000 RL
I didn't get my first computer until 5th grade, but my first computing experience was a year earlier with a Tandy 1000 RLX desktop with the matching CRT and Windows 3.0. It was a hand-me down PC that my uncle gave to my aunt, after she immigrated to the US. I spent my summer at my aunt's house and always used it. Endless hours were spent playing Solitaire and Tetris. I even typed up my first eulogy, for my grandma, after she passed that summer.
It was a slow Intel 286-based system, but I didn't know much about hardware at the time. However, it's the system I learned to type and write on, using Microsoft Works. My experience with the Tandy 1000 RLX led to me getting my first computer, an AST Advantage 622 desktop, which sparked my interest in upgrading hardware, and has led me on an amazing career path.
Image credit: Pat Hawks/Flickr