‘My buddies name me the BlackBerry queen!’ Meet the individuals clinging on to previous tech – from faxes to VCRs

More than 40 years for the reason that fax machine turned an workplace mainstay, it appears the get together is lastly over. With telecom suppliers not required to supply fax companies, these machines might quickly be consigned to the dusty attic of bygone tech. However for the TikTok era, who’ve by no means recognized life with out wifi, ideas equivalent to fax, dial-up web and Friday night time journeys to Blockbuster Video aren’t simply outdated, they’re utterly alien. Even so, not everybody has forgotten in regards to the charms of older expertise. From the clattering keys of an previous typewriter to the nostalgic pleasure of a chunky Walkman, some individuals have by no means left their favorite tech behind.

‘I desire movies as a result of I take pleasure in proudly owning one thing bodily’

Billy Cunliffe, 79, Wigan, retired

It took me three weeks to save lots of up £60 to purchase my first secondhand video participant in 1981. Now I’ve acquired seven gamers and greater than 6,000 VHS tapes which I’ve collected over time. Though I do use Netflix, I desire movies as a result of I take pleasure in proudly owning one thing bodily, and I’ve acquired a number of content material you possibly can’t discover on digital channels. I really like my previous films, and I’m additionally an enormous rugby fan. I’ve recorded each Wigan match that’s ever been proven on tv.

Billy Cunliffe at house along with his enormous assortment of VHS tapes, vinyl data, cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes. {Photograph}: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

I really feel like VHS provides higher image and sound high quality than DVDs, which scratch simply and cease working. The draw back is that it’s actually arduous to seek out VHS tapes and video gamers now, and once you do they are often costly. Persons are going again to their roots and plenty of now really feel that older issues look good, so the costs of classic tech are going up. I’ve began taping over a few of the issues I not watch as I discover it not possible to get new clean tapes. Fortunately I’m an engineer, so I’ve been capable of restore a number of my very own video gamers and I take actually excellent care of all my tapes. I’m a little bit of an knowledgeable now.

In addition to all of the movies, I’ve greater than 200 reel-to-reel tapes [magnetic tape audio recordings, popular in the 1950s and 60s], which embrace a recording I product of a televised Beatles efficiency on the London Palladium in 1963. I needed to maintain the microphone as much as the tv to report the sound, however the high quality is simply pretty much as good because the day they performed. I’ve all the time been an enormous fan of classic expertise. My granddaughter loves vinyl and cassette tapes so I feel she’s following in my footsteps.

‘I really feel fax machines do nonetheless serve a function’

Lisa Ford, 54, St Louis, Missouri, nurse

I work in a hospital and nonetheless use the fax machine so much. It’s actually sensible, safe and easy. There are conditions the place you need to share data in a non-paperless manner, so I do really feel they nonetheless serve a function. I like them as a result of they’re extremely simple to make use of, and it’s visible fairly than digital, so you possibly can see the affirmation that one thing has been despatched and acquired. If you wish to ship a doc nearly, you typically should convert it to PDF or one other format, which is extra difficult than a fax. I nonetheless use a pager too, which is nice once you don’t have telephone reception or web entry as a result of [it uses radio signals so] it is going to nonetheless go off.

Lisa Ford with her pager and typewriter.
Lisa Ford along with her pager and typewriter

Whereas new tech is extra environment friendly in some ways, I really feel there’s an even bigger safety menace as a result of we don’t understand how our knowledge is being harvested and what it’s getting used for. There’s additionally a nostalgia aspect with conventional tech, which explains why I’ve an previous, heavy typewriter. I take advantage of it across the holidays for writing playing cards and notes, and it’s all the time a dialog starter when individuals see it.

‘Folks take a look at my BlackBerry telephone prefer it’s an unsightly kitten’

Aren Devlin, 39, London, actor

Aren Devlin’s BlackBerry.
Aren Devlin’s BlackBerry. {Photograph}: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

I’ve been utilizing BlackBerry telephones for nearly twenty years, and I’m recognized by my buddies because the BlackBerry Queen. I acquired my present handset 5 years in the past and I’m holding on to it for pricey life. I really like the tactile keyboard and understanding that I’m not unintentionally pushing the incorrect buttons. Folks take a look at my telephone and ask to carry it prefer it’s an unsightly kitten. They’re fascinated by it, but in addition shocked that I nonetheless use it. Though I really like my BlackBerry, I do know I’m residing on borrowed time as a result of a few of the features are not working. In the intervening time, it nonetheless works for calls, emails and WhatsApp. I can take photographs, however they’re not the very best quality. Fortunately I don’t use the digital camera a lot so it’s not an enormous downside for me.

I feel it’s good to not have all of the apps as a result of I might see myself losing an excessive amount of time. The newer telephones which are consistently beeping and buzzing additionally disrupt our focus extra. It’s unlikely I’ll have the ability to get one other BlackBerry when this one breaks as they’re not being made, however I received’t take into account getting a brand new telephone till then. I’m very acutely aware of my carbon footprint, so if one thing’s working and I take pleasure in utilizing it, why would I substitute it? I feel the fixed turnover of recent expertise is wasteful.

‘I hope my Walkman by no means breaks’

Tess Caven, 56, Essex, technique and advertising and marketing supervisor

A Sony Walkman from the 1980s.
A Sony Walkman from the Nineteen Eighties. {Photograph}: AKP Photographs/Alamy

I purchased my present Walkman in 1989, and though I stay and work in a really tech-driven world I nonetheless take pleasure in utilizing it. My dad was stationed in what was then generally known as Burma throughout the second world struggle and used to inform us wonderful tales about his experiences, and within the 90s I recorded them on cassettes to verify I’d all the time have the ability to take heed to them. Although I do know I might have them digitised, I like listening to them on the Walkman as a result of you possibly can hear all of the crackles and sounds within the background. It takes me again to once I spent the day recording the tales, so there’s an actual sense of nostalgia as properly.

I’ve additionally acquired some previous mixtapes that I’ve saved for the reason that 80s which my kids take pleasure in listening to. They’ve acquired Spotify too, however we just like the sound of the Walkman as a result of it’s much less polished and provides the music extra depth. The draw back is that though vinyl is absolutely well-liked once more now, you possibly can’t purchase tapes and gamers simply. I hope my Walkman by no means breaks – I’ve no concept how I’d get it fastened.

‘I discover utilizing a typewriter meditative’

Carla Watkins, 36, Colchester, photographer

I’ve acquired eight typewriters, three of that are in working order. I take advantage of fashionable expertise as properly, however I really like utilizing my typewriters for letters and journal entries. I’ve one pal I preserve involved with fully via typewritten letters, which is gorgeous. In a digital world, it’s good to get an enormous chunky envelope stuffed with the type of information you don’t see in a Fb replace.

I discover typing meditative, as a result of there aren’t any distractions – you possibly can focus higher. Discovering individuals to repair them could be tough and costly – it’s a little bit of a dying artwork – however I’m decided to get a few of my different typewriters restored. I’m afraid of taking them aside myself in case I can’t put them again collectively once more.

Carla Watkins with her collection of typewriters.
Carla Watkins along with her assortment of typewriters. {Photograph}: Carla Watkins

My oldest typewriter is from round 1910, and I like fascinated with the historical past of those machines and what has been written by the generations earlier than us. I even have a landline telephone with a rotary dial, which I really like. I’ll spend afternoons having lengthy chats with my buddies, and since I can’t do anything on the similar time I’m capable of totally have interaction with the calls. I’m positively an old school woman at coronary heart.

‘If you play on Atari, the main target is totally on the sport’

Neil Thomas, 42, Cotswolds, museum proprietor

I acquired my Atari VCS video games console in 1985 when it was handed all the way down to me by a member of the family. I cherished enjoying on it as a toddler. My favorite sport was River Raid, the place you’d fly a aircraft down a river, taking pictures at issues. Simply over a decade in the past, I discovered the console within the attic and commenced to make use of it once more. The primary attraction is that the sport is immediately there on the display – there’s no ready for downloads, as you do with fashionable consoles. I additionally really feel the gameplay is absolutely good on the older consoles. With out flashy graphics, the main target is totally on the sport itself.

Neil Thomas playing River Raid on the Atari VCS.
Neil Thomas enjoying River Raid on the Atari VCS. {Photograph}: Sam Frost/The Guardian

Through the years, I’ve begun to gather extra previous consoles and computer systems, and in 2017 I even arrange a web site and YouTube channel for different retro tech fanatics. Because of this, individuals began sending me their previous consoles and computer systems. I’ve since opened two museums within the Cotswolds the place individuals can come and play video games.

I feel the revival of older consoles is occurring partly as a result of there’s a nostalgia to reliving your youth, and partly as a result of individuals wish to share the historical past of video video games with their kids. Ten years in the past, you would decide up secondhand consoles for nearly nothing, however now they are often costly as a result of their rising reputation. Fortunately, we now have a lab within the museum the place we deal with the consoles and repair them to make sure they keep in nice situation. I’ve additionally discovered a use for all of the floppy discs I’ve been despatched – they’re wallpapering the museum.

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