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As our Hardware Stuff section shows, new gadgets are being released all the time, and we here at MakeUseOf like to keep abreast of the latest innovations being made in the technology world. Whether it be computers, tablets, smartphones, televisions, cameras, or video game consoles, the pace of change is so fast we can barely keep up.

However, it’s easy to always look for the next big thing at the expense of what has gone before, to focus on the future and ignore the past. We’re all prone to do this on occasion, but those of us over a certain age are sure to own gadgets that have stood the test of time. And if they aren’t broken, why fix them (or, more likely, replace them)?

Old gadgets that are still usable and do the job they were intended to do was the subject of last week’s We Ask You column, and what follows are the results of the rather epic discussion we enjoyed surrounding the issue.

The Results

We asked you, What’s The Oldest Gadget You Still Use Regularly? The response from the MakeUseOf readership was phenomenal, with the comments running into the hundreds. It’s an epic thread that’s worth a read by anyone interested in taking a trip down memory lane and discovering the types of gadgets that people are still using many years after they first appeared in stores.

One of the biggest takeaways from the conversation was the realization that a good proportion of the population have neither the desire or means to keep up with the latest technological advances, so as long as the “old” gadget is still working, it remains the best choice for the individual in question.

With the problem of electronic waste Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Every year, exhibitions around the world present new high tech devices; expensive toys that come with many promises. They aim to make our lives easier, more fun, super connected, and of course they are status... Read More an increasingly sizable and urgent one, this is a lesson we can all learn – not immediately shunning the gadgets we have in our possession for the ones we covet.


In terms of trends seen throughout the discussion, there are certain gadgets that stood out. Phones, televisions, stereo equipment (including radios and speakers), and PDAs can last years without forcing their owners to upgrade. There have been obvious advances in the technology, but for those who have basic needs there’s no real need to upgrade.

In more recent times, personal media players and laptops have performed admirably long after their sell-by-date. And video games consoles deserve a special mention as they don’t so much become outdated as they age gracefully. So, while the newer consoles offer one kind of experience, retro games 8 Of The Best Retro Gaming YouTube Channels [MUO Gaming] 8 Of The Best Retro Gaming YouTube Channels [MUO Gaming] Read More provide another, not necessarily lesser, experience.

Comment Of The Week

We had great input from the likes of Auditor, Kelsey Tidwell, and Dee Wheat, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to Art S, who receives the respect of myself and hopefully everybody reading this for this comment:

I currently use my AlphaSmart Dana (a Palm OS portable keyboard) every day. I use it as a better keyboard than the one my work provides, and I use it to write when I’m away from my computer. As a PDA or anything else, it’s pretty useless to me, as it won’t sync with the online services I need and use. However, as a place to write, it’s fantastic. Why? Because it’s NOT connected. No internet, no Facebook, no e-mail, no games, no distractions! I can focus on just writing, then when I’m done, I just plug it into my computer and send what I’ve written. Honestly, when it dies, I will likely have to replace it (or get the newer Neo2). I use it every day. Of course, even though it’s retro and old, I still get people asking me about it when I’m writing in coffee shops or somewhere else in public. Some of the curious questioners even inquire about how to purchase one for themselves!

Choosing one comment out of the hundreds that were in the running proved a challenge, but this one won out thanks to its author detailing a gadget that beats current technology for a specific reason. Namely, that the lack of Internet-connectivity means it has a distinct lack of distractions associated with it. As anyone with a smartphone or tablet will attest, the Web offers endless opportunities to waste time. The AlphaSmart dana does not.

We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps for your fellow MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.

Image Credit: Cloned Milkmen

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  1. jlee975
    June 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I still use my Dell X51 PDA

  2. dragonmouth
    June 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Most of my power tools are of the 1950-1960 vintage. The nice thing about them is that they were made totally out of metal. no plastic cases, gears or switches. They may be heavy but they are indestructible. When you drop one, the dent is on the floor/driveway, not in the tool. I used to have more modern power tools but the plastic parts in them wore out over the years.

  3. jonen560ti
    June 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    playstation 2 never gets old

  4. Diane
    June 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I still have, and use, an old Texas Instruments TI-1768 solar calculator. I got it when I started tenth grade (in 1981), so it's 32 years old! It definitely looks its age (dents, the finish is faded, scratches, etc), but it still works perfectly. I've nicknamed it 'Yoda'.

  5. Dave Thomas
    June 5, 2013 at 3:59 am

    I still use a Windows 98 17 year-old computer to play vintage games once or twice a week.

    • likefunbutnot
      June 6, 2013 at 12:56 am

      I actually purpose-built a Core 2 Duo machine with entirely Windows 98-compatible hardware just to make sure that I'll be able to play a few games that exist in the narrow range of being neither particularly VM-friendly nor fully DirectX compliant.

      That being said, DOSBox runs on Android. If you're into retro-gaming there's a pretty decent chance that all the older titles you might go and buy from will work with no alteration on a modern phone or tablet.