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A Look Back

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Soviet Union VVA-14 Submarine Hunter Aircraft
You’ve probably seen some bizarre aircraft before, but the Bartini Beriev VVA-14 could be the strangest yet. This vertical take-off amphibious aircraft was a wing-in-ground-effect aircraft developed in the Soviet Union during the early 1970s and designed to take off from the water before flying at high speeds over long distances. This meant that it could not only complete flights at high altitude, but also flying efficiently just above the water. Read more for a video and additional information.

Ford Nucleon Nuclear-Powered Car 1950
It’s true, the 1958 Ford Nucleon was supposed to be a nuclear-powered car, which quite surprisingly, is just one of a handful of such designs during the 1950s and 60s. That’s right, there would have been no internal-combustion engine, but instead a small nuclear reactor in the rear of the vehicle, based on the assumption that this would one day be possible by reducing its size. Read more for a video and additional information.

Microsoft Windows Evolution 1986 to 2021
Since we now know that Microsoft plans on releasing Windows 11 as a free download for existing Windows 10 users during the 2021 holiday season, it will be fitting to look back at just how far the operating system has come. Windows 11 will be the first major release since 2015, and it builds upon its predecessor by revamping the user interface to follow the company’s new Fluent Design guidelines that focuses on ease of use and flexibility. Read more for a video, additional information, and a bonus clip.

Seiko Data-2000 First Wristwatch Computer
Photo credit: Joe Haupt
Long before the Apple Watch and other smartwatches, there was the Seiko Data-2000. This wristwatch computer was released in 1983 and came bundled with an external keyboard for data-entry. Unlike the devices of today, data had to be synced from the keyboard to the watch using electro-magnetic coupling, or in other words, a wireless dock. It was named Data-2000 for its ability to store 2000 characters, while its memory is a minuscule 112 digits. Read more for two videos and additional information.

How to Check Email 1984
Back in 1984, smartphones and tablets didn’t exist, so checking email wasn’t quite as easy. One BBC reporter traveled all the way to Japan to show us how people completed these tasks using an acoustic modem and a TRS-80 Model 100. The latter is basically a portable computer first introduced in 1983, and one of the first notebook-style computers equipped with a keyboard as well as liquid crystal display. Read more for the video and additional information.

Magnavision LaserDisc Player Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy may be best known for his portrayal of Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan character on “Star Trek” starting from the very first TV episode, in 1966, to the film Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013, but those around in 1981 may have seen him showcasing the latest technology at the time. The actor demonstrated the gigantic Magnavision VH-8000 LaserDisc Player, which employed gas helium–neon laser tubes to read discs and had a red-orange light with a wavelength of 628 nm. Read more for the video and additional information.

Nintendo 64DD Development Unit
Photo credit: Shane Luis via The Verge
Many gamers, even those who own(ed) an N64, may not remember the 64DD, which is basically a magnetic disk drive peripheral released in 1999 that allowed the console to use proprietary 64MB magnetic disks. It could even connect to the internet through a dedicated online service, called Randnet, for e-commerce, online gaming, and media sharing. Unfortunately, there was only ten software titles released until its discontinuation in February 2001. Read more for a video and images of a development unit that Shane Luis came across from a collector.

Disneyland Monsanto
The Monsanto House of the Future was an attraction at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland between 1957-1967, and it offered a walkthrough experience for visitors, mainly to demonstrate the versatility of modern plastics. There were many household appliances on the cutting edge of technology at that time, including microwave ovens, which eventually became commonplace. Within the first 6-weeks of it opening (June 12, 1957), the house saw over 435,000 visitors, and ultimately, over 20-million people before closing. Read more for a video and additional information.

Special Effects Movies Before CGI
Ever wonder how some of those silent films from the early 1900s achieved some of their special effects? If so, then look no further than this segment by movie blogger Pedro Cinemaxunga, who has compiled numerous of these segments and broke them down. First up, we have “Safety Last! (1923)”, in which the image of Harold Lloyd clutching the hands of a large clock as he dangles from the outside of a skyscraper above moving traffic is the most well known. Read more for the video and additional information.

Chrysler Turbine Car Ultimate
Photo credit: Hemmings
Here’s a fascinating look back at the ultra rare Chrysler Turbine Car that was produced between 1963 and 1964. One of two privately owned examples (chassis 991231) recently sold for an undisclosed amount, but a total of 55 cars were built: five prototypes and a limited run of 50 cars for a public user program. Its A-831 engines could operate on many different fuels, required less maintenance, and were more durable than conventional piston engines, although much more expensive to manufacture. Read more for two videos, additional pictures and information.