Can You Identify This Technology From The '50s, '60s, '70s, And '80s?

Jacqueline Samaroo

Image: PCH

About This Quiz

I need you to go back with me! Back to the future!

The 20th century truly was "the future" in terms of the technological advancements that were made in that time; especially compared to previous centuries. This time frame was not only the birthplace of brand new technologies, but it was also when older technologies were refined and improved upon in various industries; like transportation (automobiles) and military (firearms). Three decades out of this time frame that stand out above the rest are the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s; and that is why this quiz is going to be focusing on these three important decades.

Out of these three decades, the '50s obviously serves the role of a more transitional period from the early 1900s. Prototype technologies that had been created earlier were now being taken seriously and being released for public use. Also, humanity set its sights on the stars once again, ushering in the infamous "Space Race." The '70s (and to a lesser extent the '60s) focused more on electronics and digital technology; such as better personal computers and mobile phones.

So, are you a technological mastermind? Then c'mon, let's go back in time and see if you can name all of this iconic technology from the past.

Which kitchen gadget initially frightened many people?

While microwave ovens existed in the 1940s, these devices were huge – being as tall as an adult and weighing 750 lbs. The countertop microwave oven was commercially introduced in 1967.

Which retro vehicle floated on land?

There were quite a few early efforts to create a hovercraft-like vehicle in the late 19th century and early 20th century. However, the first successful commercial attempt was achieved in the 1960s.

What bulky device replaced home movie cameras with film?

While VCRs may seem very old nowadays (ancient even), the first prototype was developed in the 1950s. The first home video recorder was available a decade later in 1963.

What retro technology is no longer flashed at concerts?

While the very first lighter was created in 1823, it wouldn’t be until over a century later that disposable lighters were invented. The 1950s saw butane being used as the primary fuel source, and thus disposable lighters were instantly viable.

What retro device replaced a dial with digits one through ten?

The touch-tone telephone was introduced to the public in 1963 after years of development and testing. However, adoption of this new technology was slow and it wasn’t until two decades later that these phones were more common than rotary phones.

What retro technology was not really mobile by today's standards?

While the first mobile handheld phone hit the market in 1983, the very first handheld mobile phone debuted in 1973. This phone was relatively massive compared to phones nowadays, weighing over 4 lbs.

What retro technology is best unused?

While atomic bombs were used twice by the United States against Japan in 1945, a hydrogen bomb has never been used by any country in battle. The US first tested one in 1954 and quickly found out that it was hundreds of times more powerful than anything that had come before it.

What retro technology is in this image?

Video games were extremely young during these decades, even at the end of the '70s. However, video games were birthed in the '50s, with the first commercially sold, coin-operated video game – Computer Space – being available in 1971.

What medical device is shown here?

The MRI machine has proven to be an extremely beneficial technological advancement in the medical industry. It initially underwent serious development and applications in the 1970s.

What retro toy was endlessly entertaining and erasable?

The Etch A Sketch is by far one of the most iconic toys throughout history and one of the most creative toys of the 20th century. It was introduced in 1960 and actually sold over half a million units in that year alone.

What music-related item is shown here?

The compact disc is one of the most revolutionary pieces of heavily used technology in the past 50 years. Although it was perfected in the '80s, the technology was actually introduced in 1976 by Sony.

What super strong material is this?

Kevlar is a strong fiber that was developed in 1965 and made commercially available in the 1970s. While it has several uses, including racing sails and bicycle tires, it is probably best known for being used in bulletproof vests.

What technology replaced asking the kids to change the channel?

The very first remote control that was made for use with a television was developed in 1950. However, this was actually connected to the TV using a wire, a wireless one would be created five years later in 1955.

What sticky substance is pictured here?

The original patent for Super Glue (cyanoacrylate) was actually filed in 1942; however, nothing actually came out of this endeavor. Instead, it wasn’t until 1958 when the product was actually formally developed and made commercially available.

What money-related technology is in this image?

While the concepts of banking cards and financial credit were not unheard of before the '50s, no one had truly been able to implement credit cards on a large scale. However, in 1958, Bank of America became the first to be successful with their BankAmericard.

What retro music player is in this image?

Audio cassettes were a huge benefit for the music industry in the 20th century, especially due to the effect they had on accessibility. However, it wasn’t until the end of the 1970s when the first truly personal portable cassette player was introduced – the iconic Sony Walkman.

What retro form of transportation is this?

While passenger planes were introduced and developed upon throughout the 20th century, quite possibly the most iconic advancement is the jumbo jet. The first and most recognizable one is the Boeing 747, which was introduced in 1970.

What ever-present technology is in this image?

While it may not be known by name as readily as the other things in this quiz, the Universal Product Code is possibly the one that we come into contact with most often. Introduced officially in 1974, the Universal Product Code is simply the barcode system that we see on products in virtually every store.

What retro luxury item is now considered a necessity for most of us?

While the meaning of “personal computer” may be easy to understand now, in the mid-20th century the pricing and size of these devices meant that the personal aspect was not even being considered. However, in this '60s and '70s this began to change with simple personal computers being introduced in academic institutions and the like.

What retro technology changed the way we view the world?

Color is something that we take for granted nowadays when it comes to film and television; however, it wasn’t that long ago that black and white was all we had. Broadcasting stations and networks in the United States and most parts of the world upgraded from black and white to color transmission in the 1960s and 1970s.

What medical breakthrough helps deaf people?

From saving lives to improving the quality of life, the 20th century provided us with a lot of medical advancements. Cochlear implants, which are devices that help to provide a sense of sound to fully or partially deaf people, were invented in 1961 and first implanted in 1964.

What retro technology saves lives on the road?

While there are quite a few medical inventions in this quiz that save lives, the anti-lock braking system has undoubtedly helped to avoid health hazards altogether. While the system was introduced to other vehicles like planes years before, it was formally used on commercial automobiles in the 1970s.

What gadget makes PCs easier to use?

Yes, while it may seem silly to imagine a computer without a mouse, this device was created well after computers were a thing. In fact, the very first public demonstration of a mouse controlling a computer system was in 1968.

What portable item preserved and played sounds?

While the Sony Walkman was created in the late 1970s, the compact cassette itself was being used way before then. The compact cassette was actually released in 1963 by Philips.

What device helps us know what to weareach day?

The 20th century is known for the space race and moon landing; however, the launching of weather satellites is also a notable event from this time. Vanguard 2, the first weather satellite, was launched in 1959.

What groovy light is in this image?

One of the more lighthearted pieces of technology in the quiz, lava lamps are iconic parts of '60s and '70s pop culture. The lava lamp, or the Astro lamp as it was also known, was invented in 1963 and is still somewhat popular to this day.

What retro technology is still found in many PCs?

With the creation of computers and the inevitable digitization of information, effective storage mediums were obviously going to be needed. This is where the hard disk drive came into play; an IBM invention from 1954.

What technology is used in pointers and sci-fi movies?

The laser is a weird invention that oftentimes exists in people’s minds as being something obviously “futuristic” but also at the same time something that has existed for a really long time – at least longer than the '60s, right? Wrong. The laser was actually first invented in 1960 and went on to be tested and utilized in a wide variety of technological advancements.

What retro technology came way before Skype?

Today we take things like Skype and webcams for granted, but these types of technology all owe their success to the AT&T Picturephone. The Picturephone debuted in 1964 and boasted the ability to have transcontinental video calls.

What data storage could be bent but never folded?

While they may not see much use today with computers, the floppy disk was an important milestone in electronic data storage. While technically compact discs were invented in the '70s, during this time the floppy disk still reigned as the go-to form of data storage.

What device helped people walk and talk?

While technically walkie-talkies existed in the '40s, these were backpack models that were primarily used in the military. The first handheld walkie-talkie was actually invented in 1951 by Motorola.

What popular office item was invented by the mother of a Monkee?

Liquid Paper is the very first brand of correction fluid that was ever created. Fittingly, it was invented in 1956 by a typist who admitted that they made too many mistakes and needed a way to correct them.

What retro technology is shown here?

The sun and the energy that if gives us is vital for all life on Earth. Our ability to harness this energy was taken to new heights with the introduction of the first practical solar cell in 1954.

What sports-related invention is in this image?

The first actual creation of artificial turf was in 1960; however, the material didn’t become popular until Astroturf came onto the scene. Astroturf was installed in the Texas-based Astrodome in 1966.

What retro device can still be found in most bank parking lots?

More often simply referred to as an ATM, this invention revolutionized banking systems across the world when it was introduced. The first successful automated teller machine was introduced in 1967.

What heart-friendly technology is in this image?

The human heart has a natural pacemaker, but the artificial pacemaker was a technological invention that provided salvation for patients who had heart-related issues. Both external and internal variations on the pacemaker were created in the '50s and improved upon greatly in the '60s.

What small space-age vehicle is in this image?

Once the '50s were well underway, they brought with them the heated Space Race between the US and USSR. The Soviets won, with the first human spaceflight in 1961, but the US was the first (and still the only) one to put a man on the moon.

What invention allowed people to set their own TV viewing schedules?

Videotape recorders were used somewhat in the 1960s for specific instances like replays at events like live sporting programs. However, Sony introduced the first consumer videotape recorder in 1971.

What retro device had no hands?

Concepts for electronic digital watches existed in the early 1900s, with several failed attempts made over the years. In 1970, the first successful prototype of an electronic digital watch was finally made by the Hamilton Watch Company.

What common gadget was crazy expensive in its early days?

Throughout history, humans have consistently used tools to help with arithmetic, but the handheld calculator has by far been the most convenient. Pocket sized calculators were created in the 1970s and quickly became popular.

What pump revolutionized cardiac care?

Exactly what it sounds like, an artificial heart is the name given to a device that replaces the heart in the body. While the science behind the invention would not be greatly perfected until the '80s and '90s, the first implantation of an artificial heart was on April 4, 1969.

What important bit of tech is this?

With the need for computers to become smaller, more affordable to build and easier to use, the parts that made these devices up had to be improved upon. Intel introduced the very first single-chip microprocessor in 1971 and helped to pave the way for further evolution of the computer.

What home gadget saves many lives?

Smoke detectors are incredibly useful, since they have been shown to reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by approximately 50%. The smoke detector that we know today was first introduced in 1975.

What photo technology killed film manufacturers?

Yes, nowadays every smartphone has a digital camera built in, so it’s easy to take them for granted. The very first successful digital camera was invented in 1975; however, consumers still had a few years to wait before they were going to be able to get their hands on them.

What fasten-ating technology is in this image?

Velcro on your shoes, Velcro on your bag, Velcro was (and still is) everywhere! This simple yet great fastener was introduced in the late 1950s and is still popular to this day.

What retro improvement to cars is still popular in the 2010s?

A staple part of a lot of modern car nowadays, power steering was however a big deal when it was first introduced. The technology was first commercially implemented under the name Hydraguide with the 1951 Chrysler Imperial.

What retro gadget was known for its annoying screeches?

The modem is the gateway to the internet and all of the wonders that it holds. The very first commercial modem was introduced in 1959 by Bell Labs.

What retro technology inspired a movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?

While it is true that nowadays everyone and their dog has an email account and over a dozen social media accounts, back in the '60s this was not the case. In the 1960 email was created and being used on a limited basis. When the '70s rolled around email began to change to look similar to how it does today and slowly become more and more utilized as time went on.

What huge retro technology has since been scaled down to a managable size?

The digital age began in the 1900 and exploded in the 2000s and one of the most important milestones in this era is the UNIVAC I. The UNIVAC I was the first commercial computer in the United States and was created in 1951.

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