Yesterday’s High Tech

Three students look at film reels and other old high-tech as they try to identify what it is.

Story by Kris Dreessen / Photo by Keith Walters ’11

All those gadgets? They are all now replaced with a laptop or smartphone.

In 1997, the Kodak DC120 was one of the first consumer digital cameras sold. Dennis Showers, interim director of the Ella Cline School of Education, remembers when they first got them for teaching. It was 1.2 megapixels and cutting-edge tech. 

Today, Showers presses a button on his phone to take a snapshot. 

Such drastic changes in technology are why education juniors Allyson Burzynski, Elize Oliverio and Tristan Johnson recently struggled to correctly identify the uses of yesteryear’s tech champions when Showers laid them out on a table. 

Before them was the camera, a film projector, film reel, calculators, an early text-to-speech gadget and slide carousels. 

“This one looks dangerous!” laughs Oliverio, touching the top of the metal film projector. 

Johnson opens the door to the 1980s-era Dictaphone and knows a cassette tape slides in the compartment. 

“I get it. It’s like an answering machine!” says Johnson. “It records.” 

The Dictaphone, in fact, was essential to recording classes and interviews, with a foot pedal box (that the students could not guess) to pause recordings when staff transcribed them on typewriters. Once standard, all the tools are obsolete. 

If Johnson wants to take a photo, record, listen, project videos on TV, work equations or find pretty much any information he doesn’t know? 

“I just use my cellphone,” says Johnson. 

He can also print papers from his phone over campus WiFi; students can answer calls on their smartwatches. 

Take a walk down memory lane at Geneseo with images of now outdated technology — and have some fun at home. Can you and your kids correctly guess vintage gadgets? 

A black and image photo of a professor in 1954 demonstrating a seismograph to students.

1954: Professors demonstrate how to use a seismograph, which detects earthquakes.

Author: geneseoscene

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