Manufactured Nostalgia: Stepping Forward, Looking Backward
Colleen Tufts
January 3rd, 2022

Obsolescence is a natural part of innovation—as long as people have been inventing new technologies, old technologies have been going out of style. Technology from our recent past—like landlines, fax machines, and DVD players—were phased out as modern technology has evolved to meet our needs. 

But with technologies now popping back up from near-extinction, it’s safe to say that there’s more to tech trends than simple convenience and utility. New releases of record players, typewriters, and AM/FM radios are the opposite of the sleek, portable, everything-in-one devices that we’ve grown familiar with. They’re clunky, they take up space, and they often only have a single function. So why are they suddenly flying off the shelves?

Nostalgia is one likely suspect—there’s undeniably something comforting about the less complicated and more concrete inventions from the past. Spotify may have all of your favorite artists available at your fingertips, but a record player is a conversation piece—it’s concrete, decorative, and a nod to an earlier time, when the act of putting on music was more interactive.

Old tech doesn’t only serve as a trendy reminder of the recent past. It’s also likely that the return of these relics from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s indicates a push against planned obsolescence and a lack of ownership in modern technology. It’s no secret that today’s tech isn’t built to last—and that makes tangible, quality-made vintage devices all the more appealing. 

If the recipe for success calls for tactility and longevity, what lies ahead for our disposable tech culture?

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