We always feel that vintage is something that is of a certain age, not quite antique, but definitely from another era. Normally it might refer to a piece of design or an article of clothing that is at least 20 years old, but rarely more than 100.
In the world of tech, however, changes and developments are so rapid that a product can become ‘vintage’ in just a few short years. Consider the iPhone. The first ever Apple iPhone 1 was released at the start of 2007. It was not the first smartphone on the market, being preceded by the Blackberry , Palm and Sony Ericsson. But somehow the iPhone captured the global imagination and 6.1 million units were sold. At just 3.5 inches in height with a capacity of 4MB, this first model heralded a rapid onset of technological developments which saw an almost annual release of new versions within the last 17 years with the latest version – number 14 – available up to 6.7 inches and with a massive 1TB amount of storage.
In such a short time, the changes have been so significant that the original has become vintage even though it is less than 20 years old. In fact, an original vintage iPhone 1 from 2007 which is still in its original packaging has recently been sold at auction for $280,000 – 300 times its original price.
Evoking the Vintage Through Smart Visuals
An interesting way in which vintage is evoked through technology is by digitally reproducing traditional sounds and images. While digital watches were all the rage in the 1980s, digital watches today display an old-fashioned analogue face with hour, minute and second hands which tick by evoking the precise engineering of traditional watchmakers from years gone by.
And this is where the old and new melt together in such a fascinating medley of design and functionality. It is the very essence of human nature to strive to create, design, develop and improve. Over the decades and centuries, progress has been driven by various cultural, historical, political, technological and ideological influences, limited only by the imagination of the creators.
While many of the designers and creators of the fifties and sixties, for example, were imagining what the world would look like in 50 or 100 years time, now that time has come to pass designers these days are looking back to the creations and influences of the past and incorporating it into the technology. This creates an interesting blend of old and new that maximizes functionality and performance without compromising aesthetics.
Nostalgic Ringtones and Timeless Designs
Even some of the ringtones which have been incorporated into smartphones are taken straight out of Downton Abbey – the loud, clanging bell of yesteryear is so evocative that it is a popular choice over and above some of the more modern and brash ring tone alternatives.
In the same way that the cabochon lighting evokes the fairground delights of yesteryear, people are always going to embrace the originality and quirkiness of the vintage – so long as they have the convenience and performance rates of today’s technology as well.
The Enduring Appeal of the Original
Equally, there is always an argument as well that the original will supersede any variation that comes after. In music, the drive has always been to clean up and clarify recordings. This goes against the beliefs of the vinyl purists, those who believe that vinyl will always be superior. Vinyl was overtaken by the rise of compact discs in the nineties, which in turn was obliterated by live streamlining in the noughties. Yet in 2020 vinyl record sales increased by almost 30 percent – proof that the tangible is far from being made obsolete by the digital.