1. Televisions Then…
We’ll admit that there’s something nostalgic about huddling around a hefty TV set to watch Saturday morning cartoons or Christmas specials with the family, but these bulky old boob tubes were as heavy as a box of bricks, twice as big, and got the same grade of reception.
2. …Televisions Now
Now we have our super-slim 1080p/i HDTVs, complete with 3D capabilities, onboard smart TV features, Internet connectivity, and 500+ channels of high-def cable. And we’re still too preoccupied with flinging birds on our tiny smartphone screens to actually watch them.
3. Portable Media Then…
Few things capture the fleeting nature of time better than swinging by a thrift store to survey the seas of VHS tapes, LaserDiscs, and Super 8 film reels that’ve long since been abandoned. It’s like The Island of Misfit Toys, but for obsolete storage media.
4. …Portable Media Now
And now you can buy a tiny piece of plastic at your local drugstore, snap it to your keychain, and walk around with every song you’ve ever owned — and then some — right there in your pocket.
5. Laptops Then…
The earliest portable PCs were “laptops” in name only — trust us, you wouldn’t want one of these behemoth boxes of bolts dropped anywhere near your, er, central lap area. With screens that rarely stretched past five inches, the early laptops were great for businessmen that needed to grab their documents and go, but hardly practical for any other interested parties.
6. …Laptops Now
Contemporary technology keeps finding ways to get slimmer, sleeker, and sexier. The Samsung Series 9 is the world’s thinnest 15” laptop at just about .58 inches thick, and easily outclasses the cumbersome portable computers of yesteryear.
7. Music Players Then…
The original phonograph — invented by Thomas Edison, natch — wasn’t actually made with music in mind. Edison’s phonograph was created with the intent of both recording and reproducing sound, but for transmission by telephone. Which essentially makes Edison the godfather of “Hello?…Ha, got you — I’m not really here!” voicemail messages.
8. …Music Players Now
It’s hard to top the user-friendliness and portability of modern day music devices, although it’s admittedly pretty difficult to pull a Say Anything with an ultra-slim MP3 player.
9. Phones Then…
Remember when the telephone was a thing in a room in your house, and not a tiny ultra-gadget in your back pocket? If you answered “no,” then there’s a good chance you’re too young to be on the Internet. Please leave — you’re making us feel old.
10. …Phones Now
Pictured: your GPS, bank statement, web browser, personal theater, gaming handheld, portable e-mailer, calculator, alarm clock, and flashlight. Also, you can call people if you’re into that whole “communication” thing.
11. Fancy Cars Then…
“Bulky” might not be the best word to describe the early automobile models, but “sleek” is on the polar opposite end of the spectrum for these hand-cranked cars.
12. …Fancy Cars Now
Contemporary cars are the very definition of streamlined, however, with most vehicles requiring little more than a button press to speed off into the sunset.
13. Cameras Then…
The camera obscura was, for all intents and purposes, a camera in name only. Projecting an upside-down image through a pinhole, the obscura required early artists to trace said images by hand, creating what could loosely be referred to as photographs. Just imagine how much longer Instagram-ing your eggs benedict would take if that was still the case.
14. …Cameras Now
The upside to the camera’s sleek-ification: if fits in your pocket, you don’t have to buy film for it, and the end results are often amazing. The downside: those obnoxiously smug Ashton Kutcher commercials.
15. Books Then…
As impractical as lugging around a backpack full of books is, there’s still something awfully special about thumbing through the yellowed pages of a well-read first edition.
16. …Books Now
The Age of the eReaders has offered up some impressive advancements in the realm of literary portability, like storage, user interface…and reading Fifty Shades of Grey in public without anyone knowing.
17. Jeans Then…
Some fashion trends just want to watch the world burn.
18. …Jeans Now
It’s the synchronous evolution of technology and fashion: as our gadgets and gizmos get slimmer and easier to carry around, our pants get vein-popping-ly, nerve-severing-ly, reproductive-organ-crushing-ly skinnier. By the time our tech has evolved to holographs and neuro-implants, we’ll all be walking around in those bright leather thongs from Zardoz.